What is so difficult about village hall finding an Altenheim solution?

The newly released results of the village’s survey on Altenheim have once again shown that the residents, citizens and stakeholders of Forest Park want the Altenheim to be green space and it has been that way since the beginning.  Even Mayor Calderone was hip to the notion.  In October of 2001, he told the Forest Park Review:

“We don’t know right now what will become of that land,” Calderone said. “Once the deal is done, there will be more discussion about the best thing for that property,” he said. “But I do know a portion of it, a big portion of it, will remain park space.  We just don’t have enough of it [in Forest Park].  The picnic grove will stay the picnic grove.”  Calderone also said, “The village may survey local residents to see what they think should be done with the property.”

Over the next several years, the initial fanfare about Altenheim faded away from the collective conscience of Forest Park. However in 2006, the Altenheim subject was back but this time it was not about a park or green space, but a YMCA?  What happened, how did we get here?  Where was the promised public forum?  Heck, the YMCA was tax exempt and wouldn’t pay property taxes.

It was clear that village hall was not interested in getting any public input so Vox, then Citizens United in Forest Park, initiated a village wide Altenheim survey (100 respondents) and presented the following results at the January 8, 2007 Village Council meeting:

40 %- Wide Open Park

18% – Entertainment/Performing Arts Complex

18% – YMCA

14% – Single Family Homes

  4% – Sports Complex

  6% – Other

Village hall ignored these results and the YMCA plan moved ahead only to crash and burn.  There was a brief flirtation with Fenwick HS, another tax exempt, for a sports center, but for the most part the Altenheim had once again fallen off the radar.

Five years later In February 2012, Commissioner Chris Harris held a rare Town Hall meeting about Altenheim and the take away from that was park space with a possible public/private endeavor for children or sports or a formal trailhead for the Illinois Prairie Path.  Nice try by stakeholders, but again ignored.

So here we are today, 2014, over a dozen years later and village hall finally coughs up their Altenheim survey (246 respondents) and the results were no surprise.  Green space, baby.  The people have once again spoken, so let’s find out what the people want in their park and get it done!

Steven Backman

Forest Park


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