A state grant awarded to the village to study development opportunities at a sprawling military facility on Roosevelt Road could be the first step in finding a better use for the property. True, the U.S. Army Reserve Command – formerly a Naval Reserve site – has a long and interesting history in Forest Park. But its most useful days appear to have passed, and it wasn’t that long ago that the federal government agreed.
During a nationwide reconfiguration of its military bases in 2005 and 2006, Pentagon officials selected Forest Park’s facility as one of hundreds that should be shuttered. At the time, Navy Reservists were the primary tenant as they had been for decades. The news that the federal government planned to unload the 7.25-acre site had municipal officials excited. Finally, one of the biggest parcels on one of the town’s busiest roadways could be redeveloped. New business creates jobs, tax revenues and a host of other opportunity.
Then, at the eleventh hour, the Army decided it would like to use the facility. In 2007 the branch moved in. Oddly, inexplicably, what had been deemed expendable was now necessary – and Forest Park would have to sit on the sidelines and wait.
If this $50,000 handed over by the state enables Forest Park to develop a convincing plan or, more likely, lobby the military to sell the property, it would be a remarkable economic victory. The abundance of cemeteries here puts us at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to new development. There simply is less land to be had. When opportunities come up, it is important that the village make the best of it.
There’s still an awful lot to be decided with respect to the future of 7410 Roosevelt, but the municipality deserves credit for working to keep its interests at the forefront.