Cultural Park progress

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The grand concept of creating a Cultural Park, part performance space, part art installation, all welcoming, reached a high point and a wall on Monday night at a meeting of the village council.

A good-sized and supportive crowd was on hand to hear the formal presentation by the ad hoc committee created by the village to study the feasibility of building a mini-Ravinia on the acres of village-owned land at the Altenheim.

The brainchild of Ralph DiFebo, this concept has been percolating for several years with DiFebo skillfully enlisting support from villagers and village government. That support turned into the formal appointment of this ad hoc group to study design options, costs, noise levels for nearby residents and potential funding sources.

The village board seemed supportive and Mayor Anthony Calderone went out of his way to praise DiFebo and his band of supporters for their good work.

That was the high point.

The wall is that the project is at a standstill until at least next month when those involved are likely to learn if one or both of the two large grants applied for will generate funding for the next steps in planning. 

Further, as one committee member plainly stated, at this point there is a committee of citizens who have worked hard. But for Cultural Park to move forward it will need not just money from third-party sources but to be formally ratified by the village as its intended plan and outcome for this vital property. 

As the village owns the land, it will soon need to own the plan.

Proviso stands with Dreamers

Our Proviso Township high schools could not have been quicker or more forceful in declaring its unconditional support for its students and families caught up in Donald Trump's needless and heartless attack on Dreamers. In a school district that is now majority Hispanic, the president's malevolent attack on DACA is of immediate and confounding worry.

In a letter to students, family and community, Supt. Jesse Rodriguez made explicit the values of inclusion, stability and support that this district will show to each of its students, and, in this cruel moment, most particularly to those young immigrants brought to this country as children by their parents.

The ferocity and the caring of that letter makes us proud to declare Proviso Township as Forest Park's high school.

However, bold declarations must also be interpreted and acted upon in the everyday life of these schools. And almost immediately following this letter came an intense social media exchange allegedly involving one PMSA teacher posting that all Dreamers should go home. In a school with many students under DACA status, such a declaration from a teacher is troubling. There is also the essential right of free speech to be defended.

Beyond our observation that Facebook can be a lousy and dangerous place to spout political views, we will watch with interest as the superintendent investigates and responds to this personnel matter.

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