It was gratifying last week to watch the planning process for Reiger Park go public. And, yes, like you, we needed to ask which of the village-owned “pocket parks” was Reiger. Turns out it is the good-sized corner of Circle Avenue and 16th Street.
For decades we have asked why the park district had only “The Park.” And we’ve asked why village government owned a handful of small park-like spaces sprinkled across town. Village government mainly kept the weeds down. There was little investment and no programming in these overlooked parcels.
Perhaps due to what has felt like low-level grumbling between the village and the parks over time, whenever we asked the question we’d get a vague “that’s the way it has always been” sort of non-answer. So it is better than good that the two entities started to talk — we suspect Tim Gillian, the former administrator at village hall and Jackie Iovinelli, the still-sort-of-new exec at the park district, had their hands in this.
The upshot is a 99-year lease at a buck a year that turned over the pocket parks to the parks. And last week, with its eye on a Sept. 1 deadline for a large state grant, the park district unveiled two potential designs for Reiger Park. The options, professionally designed by Hitchcock Design Group, represent the inevitable tension between active and passive park space. So one version included a soccer field and four square while the other included a “water feature” and more gathering spaces.
There’s not a right answer and the ultimate design will likely blend the two. But it was refreshing to see professionals at work and engaging neighbors in the process.
The budget for reclaiming Reiger Park is $800,000. The state OSLAD grant, if awarded, would cover half the cost. The park district and local taxpayers would invest the rest.
This is good money after no money and we’re enthused to see this first effort take shape.
Pot license win in Forest Park
The process of getting a state license for any aspect of the cultivation, processing, infusing or sale of legal marijuana is complicated. And that’s good.
When’s the last time the state of Illinois or county of Cook had something valuable to license, contract to award, seat to fill and, essentially, the fix wasn’t in? To its credit, and with acknowledgement that the first round of pot licensing was imperfect, advocates have forced the state to tilt licenses and income from pot sales toward people of color, toward populations that have been abused and leveled by a criminal justice system that persecuted small-time pot use.
Now Forest Park has its foot in the door with a license to Karuna Ventures to infuse cannabis oil into products such as edibles, which would be sold by dispensaries. Karuna, which has shown a commitment to locating in Forest Park, hopes it will still win a cultivation license that would grow its footprint and employee payroll in the village.
This is a win. And we’re glad to see it.