Ralph Di Febo is taking his proposal for transforming the Altenheim property into a cultural park on the road [Making no small plans for Altenheim, News, Dec. 2]. He is holding public forums and hoping to build grassroots support for creating a public green space and performing arts venue. 

The first event will be March 1, at Exit Strategy, starting at 7 p.m. His 30-minute presentation will include a breathtaking aerial view of Altenheim and a power point about how the property could become the “Ravinia of the Western Suburbs.”

These forums are sponsored by the Forest Park Cultural Park Committee, whose members include a number of Forest Park residents, as well as people from River Forest and other parts of the region. Attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to the Forest Park Food Pantry. 

“We’re hoping to build awareness, so people will understand what the project will do for Forest Park,” Di Febo said. “We hope to create a groundswell of support.” Di Febo’s goal is to preserve the green space and bring the arts to Forest Park. He sees the venue hosting concerts, theater productions and other forms of entertainment. It would also include a sculpture garden, farmers market and recreational space.

The project already earned an honorable mention from the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation in a recent ideas competition. Di Febo continues to make progress on the proposal, establishing contacts in the music industry and reaching out to other venues. His goal is to someday present the plan to the village council. 

But first he wants to test how much popular support there is for the project. In addition to Tuesday’s event at Exit Strategy, he is making presentations at McGaffer’s on Thursday, March 3 and at the Buzz Café in Oak Park, on Thursday, March 10. All will start at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. 

Di Febo hopes that cultural park concept creates some buzz throughout the western suburbs.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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