About 50 Forest Parkers attended Monday night's village board meeting to hear Ralph DiFebo's ad hoc committee present their findings on the proposed Cultural Park.
For about 35 minutes, five speakers shared their research on noise levels, design, estimated cost and more. The concept is to convert the village-owned property at the Altenheim off of Madison Street into an art and performance space.
Though Mayor Anthony Calderone made it clear the council would not make a decision yet, he said he is appreciative of the work the committee has done so far.
"This town is blessed to have people with different areas of expertise willing to donate their time," Calderone said. "We wouldn't be where we are today without the work of Ralph DiFebo and the ad hoc committee."
DiFebo said the committee has been working diligently for six months to apply for two grants that would help with the next steps in making the Cultural Park dream a reality.
The National Parks Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program would offer logistical support. The other grant comes from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The village council submitted the grant applications DiFebo's team completed and are expecting to hear about those grants in October.
From there, DeFibo said it's up to the village board to move the plan forward. A feasibility study would determine whether Cultural Park can be created to suit the needs of the community while adhering to a reasonable budget. After that, funding would need to be secured, and a final design drafted.
Kim Rostello, a member of the ad hoc committee, said the group had reached the limits of its power.
"We're a group of citizens who are really excited about this because we love Forest Park," she said. "But because we can't make decisions, the village should have someone on staff who can actually make those kinds of decisions and follow up on the grants and those kinds of things to make sure this actually gets done."
Forest Park Cultural Park would be a park for people who tended toward the artistic rather than the athletic, she added.
"There's something for everybody at this park," Rostello said. "It has a performing arts stage. There's all kinds of stuff that can be done there."
While the village board won't be able to move forward with any plans until they hear about the grant applications, Commissioner Daniel Novak suggested that a standing item about the project be added to each village council meeting agenda from now on.
For further information on the cultural park project, visit culturalparkforestpark.blogspot.com.