Soil testing in December on the Roos site as part of brownfield remediation. Courtesy: Park District

As part of an executive order re-evaluating funding pushed through at the last minute by his predecessor, Pat Quinn, Gov. Bruce Rauner froze $26 million in grants to 75 parks and recreation projects in the state, including Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grants announced for projects in Forest Park, Oak Park, Maywood and Berwyn.

Forest Park’s $400,000 grant for landscaping and outdoor features around the new Roos-parcel recreation center was suspended for review, confirmed Park District Executive Director Larry Piekarz. The Park announced three weeks ago that they had received the grant.

“I am hoping that when the Governor sees the OSLAD grants are an investment in our communities, which indeed help the state, he will release the funds,” Piekarz said in an email.

Jan. 12, in one of his first acts as governor, Rauner passed Executive Order 15-08 which was meant to “address the state’s fiscal crisis.”

Not affected was the money the park district received this summer: $2.5 million for the construction of a recreation center received last August, followed by a second $1 million in unrestricted dollars wrangled by state Sen. Kimberly Lightford.

The OSLAD grant was meant to help design and maintain the outside of the facility, including bike parking, landscaping, walking trails, and a pavilion.

“The park district may have to make some adjustments to the project,” Piekarz acknowledged. The plan was for the park to break ground on the new building in the spring.

Also included in the grant freeze was $400,000 to the Park District of Oak Park to renovate a park at Euclid Avenue and Fillmore, $247,400 to renovate Central Area Park in Maywood. Berwyn had roughly $800,000 to update a pool, renovate a waterway and acquire three parcels for new parkland.

Piekarz was hopeful the grant funds would be approved and released. “Right now we are continuing with our effort to make this a park that the entire community will be proud of.”


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...

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