Ralph Di Febo has taken his Culture Park concept straight to Forest Parkers and the response has been enthusiastic. Whether locals are keen on this mini-Ravinia venue that Di Febo is touting with a papa’s love or they are simply tired of watching bricks fall off the derelict buildings at the rear of the village-owned property at The Altenheim, we are enthused to see energy devoted to this ignored Forest Park gem.
Half the town marches in the terrific annual St. Pat’s Parade. So we’ve just had our annual tour of the Altenheim site as marchers wend from the CTA parking lot near the Blue Line terminus up to the Madison Street start of the march. And it fills us with various wonders. How does a town with an active building code get away with owning buildings in the latter stage of collapse? No private owner would get away with this. How in its decade-plus ownership of the site did the village never make a serious effort to salvage those historic buildings? We also wonder at the vast and untapped potential of this gigantic open space. Ribfest and a concert or two a year does not justify the lost opportunity or the cost to taxpayers.
The Culture Park plan was created by Di Febo and a small band of enthusiasts. It has been crafted fully apart from a disengaged village government. Like us, Di Febo wondered what the response would be if he took his show on the road. This week he made presentations and took questions at two Forest Park emporiums and, this week, one over in Oak Park.
Our reporter said the events were well attended and the response was enthusiastic. Happily, a couple of local elected officials even turned up. We hope they shared the high hopes of average citizens and will decide that, one way or the other, the village council needs to hatch a plan either to back Di Febo’s vision or begin a process to discern the best use of this property.
The inaction is odd and unacceptable. Thanks to Mr. Di Febo for his fine work and his willingness to spark an essential discussion.
Ferrara stays local
It is hard to read too much into a corporate decision made after a fire badly damages a manufacturing plant. But we’ll look for the potential positives in the decision by the Ferrara Candy Co. to relocate manufacturing capacity to nearby Bellwood after a February fire damaged its plant in Winona, Minnesota.
The company, long a Forest Park mainstay, has morphed in recent past via mergers and buyouts. Now headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace and part of a much larger candy company, Ferrara has made local headlines recently over protests of poor treatment of temporary workers at its local plant. Also, a facility it had leased on Industrial Drive in Forest Park was recently sold to another firm.
So, yes, we worry about disinvestment. Much of the candy-making industry has moved out of the U.S., and Ferrara does have manufacturing capacity in Mexico. That makes the choice to shift the Minnesota business to neighboring Bellwood a small but positive indication of a local commitment.