The Ad Hoc Cultural Park Committee, formed in 2016 to help research uses for the village owned Altenheim property, has officially amended its recommendations on what should be done with the approximately 11 acres of land.
Originally looking at an outdoor concert venue, the committee changed its recommendation in Oct. 2018, suggesting instead selling the two acres nearest Madison Street and known as The Grove to a developer to construct a 55 and older condominium or a boutique hotel. Many residents still associate the Cultural Park Committee with the recommendation to create a band shell and concert venue, but the committee actually moved on from that suggestion two years ago.
Now, the committee has a different recommendation, encouraging the village to sell, if necessary for financial reasons, the north section known as The Grove to developers, possibly as a transit-oriented development (TOD). The south side of the property should be converted into a park and kept contiguous. As a much bigger space than The Grove, socially distanced outdoor events could potentially be held there and eventually a park developed.
But the south section of the Altenheim should not be sold, the committee said. “The back cannot be sacrificed without destroying its value,” committee chair Ralph DiFebo said in an interview.
On behalf of the committee, DiFebo sent a letter to the village, read at the council meeting on Oct. 13. The letter stated that the original recommendations of the committee were made prior to the promise of a grant to tear down the buildings, a grant for $750,000 from the state that has still not arrived but is expected to soon, and prior to the recent low property appraisal of $1.83M and the COVID-19 epidemic.
Since its formation, the committee has looked at what would make more sense for the village from a financial perspective and from the value of green space to residents.
“If, due to financial necessity, the village council feels it must sell a portion of the Altenheim property to a private developer, the committee believes that it would be best to keep the south Altenheim property intact as contiguous green space and that the north Altenheim property be parceled off to developers,” the letter stated.
Proceeds of the sale should be used to reduce the original bond issue used to purchase the property and to create a park on the south Altenheim property.
The letter went on to say that a TOD “should be considered” for the north parcel. A TOD includes a mix of commercial, residential, office and entertainment centered around or located near a train station.
Creation of a TIF district should be considered, “in order to fund improvements throughout the entire district prior to the sale of any portion of the property.”
Additionally, a “friends of the park” foundation or similar organization should be created to raise funds to finance construction of the park on the south side of the property.