Forest Park’s hopes for financial assistance in studying the feasibility of creating a cultural park in the village suffered a setback last week.

Mayor Anthony Calderone announced at Monday’s village council meeting that Forest Park was not included when the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) announced their 34 projects approved for funding.

Last week’s announcement follows a decision earlier this month by the National Park Service to award the village a technical assistance grant from the agency’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) branch to help officials create the cultural park for year-round use on village-owned property near the Altenheim Retirement Home at Madison and Van Buren streets.

Unlike the CMAP grant, the National Park Service grant is not a monetary grant. Instead, the Park Service will assist village officials to identify possible funding sources and help them develop partnerships. RTCA is dedicated to connecting urban dwellers to natural resources, such as rivers, trails and other conservation projects. 

Calderone said Monday he hopes to meet with Park Service representatives “in the next few weeks.”

At the Oct. 10 village council meeting, he termed the Park Service grant a “great step” toward creating the cultural park.

“Although not a monetary grant, I think it will prove to be very beneficial in assisting all of us in terms of identifying resources that exist that can aid us as we continue to work on this project,” he said.

In response to a question from Commissioner Joseph Byrnes on Monday, Calderone said he does not currently plan to create a feasibility committee of residents although he said he would have done so had the village received the CMAP grant. He estimated the cost of a feasibility study to be around $100,000.

The village bought the 11-acre property for $3.6 million in 2001, and over the years several ideas for development, including from Fenwick High School and the West Cook YMCA, were eventually scrapped. 

CMAP, in partnership with the Regional Transportation Authority, announced approval of 34 new projects to help local governments, nonprofits, and intergovernmental collaborators address issues at the intersections of transportation, land use and quality of life. The new activities will be supported by CMAP’s Local Technical Assistance program, which has undertaken more than 200 projects since 2012 to help the region’s communities plan for increased livability, sustainability, and economic vitality.