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Using $50,000 in state money, Forest Park will take the next two years to evaluate development possibilities for more than seven acres of Roosevelt Road land – that’s currently owned by the federal government.
For years, municipal officials have said the military’s Reserve center on Roosevelt Road is an underutilized facility that would be better served if local government could control its use. Neither the grant nor the village council offered any specific alternatives, and there seems to be no indication that the military is interested in selling the property.
Military personnel charged with overseeing the U.S. Army Reserve Command in Forest Park, 7410 Roosevelt, said they were not aware of the grant.
“Long story short, we haven’t given up on this,” Forest Park Commissioner Rory Hoskins said.
Sweeping closures in 2005 of military stations across the country left public officials here feeling optimistic that the federal government would be willing to sell the property. However, in 2006 the Army asked to replace the Navy as the primary tenant. In April 2007, the U.S. Army celebrated its move into the building.
Exactly how the state grant might be used has not been decided, but Hoskins suggested that a majority of the money could be used to hire a lobbyist. That person’s job would be to convince the military that it’s in everyone’s best interest to turn the property over to Forest Park. The village is attempting to confirm with the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which awarded the grant, that a lobbyist could be hired, said Hoskins.
The 30-page document outlining the grant’s purpose states that a consultant may be hired at a total cost of $47,700.
Mayor Anthony Calderone did not return phone calls seeking comment on the grant.
Commissioner Mark Hosty credited Hoskins and Calderone with obtaining the state funding. He agreed that it’s important for the council to be ready with a plan for the site should it become available. Hosty pointed to the recent announcement by the U.S. Postal Service that it is looking to sell its Desplaines Avenue property as an example of the suddenness with which federal land can be had. In theory, the Reserve center is no different.
“It’s a large piece of developable property on a major thoroughfare in Forest Park,” Hosty said.
When federal authorities reviewed the country’s military facilities for possible closure several years ago, the White House was not occupied by a president with strong ties to Illinois. Hoskins said part of his optimism in going after the property is based on an assumption that White House staffers may be familiar with the area and therefore more willing to hear the village’s ideas. Prior to President Barack Obama taking office, talks with federal legislators have not been fruitful, said Hoskins.
“I would just like to see the village get that property,” Hoskins said.