We should all aspire to actions that pass the “make-sense test.” And last week Forest Park’s village council and the park board aced that exam by formalizing a lease — 99 years for a buck — that turns over the operation and maintenance of four village-owned pocket parks to the park district.
This is one of those small, obvious moves that somehow never got made until now. The Review has been asking for decades why the village government was operating tiny little neighborhood parks in a small town with a park district.
Tim Gillian, Forest park native, former village commissioner, and longtime village administrator, said last week as the deal got done, “For the life of me, as someone who’s been around a long time, I can’t tell you exactly why the village didn’t do this before.”
Ultimately, Gillian gets credit from all sides for smoothing this move. And Jackie Iovinelli, executive director at the park district, gets props for bringing a sense of possibility and ambition to a park district too-long bound by the borders of “The Park” on Harrison.
The pocket park transfer, and there may still be a parcel or two added to the pact, will allow these odd corner patches to be gradually upgraded and given more purpose. Adding these potential gems in a town lacking park space is encouraging on all fronts here.
And we lay down this challenge: Eventually there will be movement on the 11 acres the village owns adjacent to the Altenheim. We expect there will be some development on the site. We fully expect the majority of the land will be maintained as open space for public use. Consider the pocket parks a warmup for a fully collaborative effort between the village and parks and interested citizens on the future of the Altenheim space.