Despite a group of residents urging the village to add a referendum regarding future-use of the Altenheim property to the April ballot and at least one commissioner in favor of doing so, Mayor Rory Hoskins said it’s not going to happen.
“The village is not pursuing a referendum,” said Hoskins on Jan. 14. “However, residents will have the opportunity to review any proposed developments and provide comments.”
During the Jan. 11 village council meeting, public comment from resident Chris Harris, on behalf of Save our Spaces, described as “a collection of Forest Park residents dedicated to saving and promoting green space in Forest Park,” was read. The letter raised concern about the recent intergovernmental agreement for the $750,000 state grant to demolish decrepit Altenheim buildings, specifically that it “includes a caveat that mandates mixed use in the space post demolition.”
Harris’ letter urged the village council, “in the spirit of community and listening to all voices,” to add a referendum to the April 6 ballot asking residents their opinion on future use of the Altenheim land.
“The village council can add this with a simple majority vote by Jan. 19,” reads the letter, adding that the group has consulted with an attorney experienced in ballot initiatives.
Commissioner Dan Novak said he would like the council to investigate the possibility of adding a referendum to the spring ballot.
“Is it an option to seek that non-binding referendum with this council to see what the Forest Park public wants, as we’re moving fast, and hasn’t been any workshops or town meetings, just to gauge the pulse of the public and what they want,” said Novak during the meeting.
Commissioner Jessica Voogd did not specifically say she wanted to see a referendum added to the ballot but she, too, said she’d like to see more public discourse regarding development of the Altenheim.
“I’m with Commissioner Novak,” Voogd said, “in that I’d like to see a couple more public special meetings to kind of discuss it and what our plans are for that.”
Bids for demolition of the Altenheim buildings were supposed to be opened on Jan. 13, but because of an unexpectedly large number of contractors wishing to tour the buildings, said Village Administrator Tim Gillian, the acceptance period for bids had to be extended.
“We are trying to allow as many contractors as possible into the facility to enhance the competition and hope for low pricing,” Gillian said in a Jan. 14 email. The new bid opening date is Jan. 27.