The next few months could become one of the most important times in the history of the Park District of Forest Park.
For several years already, those responsible for managing the recreational hub of Forest Park have been wistfully eyeing a parcel of vacant, underutilized land that sits just east of the manicured lawns and tennis courts. The Roos property, named for a former cedar chest company that inhabited the site, represents the park’s last chance for expansion. And incredibly, the land is available.
It appears, though, that residents must be willing to swallow a tax increase to make this opportunity a reality. The park district board voted unanimously to begin pulling numbers together so that in February voters can be asked whether their priorities line up with those of the park.
By now, most of us are familiar with the failed housing project that only two years ago looked like a sure thing. A recession and a market collapse quickly squashed the prospect of townhouses and condos. This month, the Roos property went into foreclosure. We wouldn’t ever cheer an economic slump, but it appears the stars are lining up for this land to be used by the park district.
The park doesn’t yet have a projected tax increase for voters to mull. There isn’t even a coherent plan for how the property might be used if it were acquired. These matters will begin to take shape in the coming weeks, and with more information we’re sure that lunch-counter debates will follow. Obviously, we all need more details before we can firmly say whether we’re behind this acquisition, but at the forefront of this discussion should be a collective understanding that this opportunity is massive. This land is the only option to grow the park. It is perhaps the last chance for the community to capture new green space. This decision is one that must be made with future generations in mind.
Indeed, the next few months may in fact alter the direction of our park district forever.