Consultants updating the village’s comprehensive plan got the go-ahead from the Forest Park Plan Commission Monday to present the approved draft plan to the village council on Dec. 15. 

The document must be finished soon for Forest Park to qualify for HUD grant funding from a 2011 Sustainable Communities Challenge grant, administered by the village of Oak Park. The Village of Maywood is also in the public hearings stage for their plan. 

HUD doled out $3.2 million to be split between a collaboration of municipalities: Berwyn, Maywood, Forest Park, Oak Park, and Bellwood. Each town had funds earmarked for an update of their comprehensive plan. A plan has already been approved in Oak Park.

Images Inc., the consultants, were supposed to have completed the plan by October 2014. 

A spreadsheet of comments and complaints was given to attendees with Images’ notes about how each comment was addressed. 

Altenheim 

For the village-owned Altenheim property, the language of the plan was adjusted to acknowledge that most Forest Parkers surveyed said they wanted the land to remain green space. 

The earlier draft of the plan had recommended senior housing residential buildings on the land. Choices were a low-income, assisted-living facility, townhouses for empty-nesters and one-level single-family homes. Now the consultants have allowed the choice of using the space as park land or an active space.

Images updated the plan to recommend the village create an “open space master plan” for the 11-acre parcel. The master plan will need to first define what kind of open space the community wants, then determine the costs of using the site as an open space, including infrastructure improvements like lighting and sewer. The plan is also expected to figure out how to demolish the abandoned buildings on the property now inhabited by squatters. The plan is supposed to look at obtaining grants or partnerships to pay for the site and, finally, the plan would look at phasing in costs over time.

Images’ language still leaves the window open for the village to develop the parcel with a “residential mixed-use project.” The plan now includes a “green space” recommendation that “must” be included with gardens, bike and walking paths and sculptures, as an add-on to the development plan.  

The notes to the plan clarified some misconceptions by Images, including a mix-up involving the Historical Society of Forest Park and the dormant Historic Preservation Commission. The notes also pointed out that the Historical Society and Chamber are not municipal branches and clarified that Forest Park was no longer participating in the Illinois Main Street program.

Environment, green space

Based on suggestions from the most recent steering committee meeting, the plan recommends a canoe launch, or some other contact area with the Des Plaines River near the Prairie Path 

Images inserted language recommending commercial recycling, removing bump outs on bike thoroughfares, and encouraging solar panels, rain gardens and green roofs, as well as other sustainable technologies as they come along. 

The consultants also tweaked the plan to include a recommendation to ensure the library has ADA access if an addition is added.

This story has been updated to correct the status of the Maywood comprehensive plan process. 

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...