The Forest Park Village Council voted unanimously to officially change the Forest Park Recreation Board’s mission from taking care of village-owned pocket parks to organizing and coordinating volunteer efforts.

With the Park District of Forest Park taking over the responsibility for maintaining and improving four of the six pocket parks, the board needed a new purpose. The ordinance that went before the council on Sept. 27 was virtually identical to what the Rec Board unanimously approved during its Sept. 9 meeting, making the board primarily responsible for organizing and supporting volunteer activities while continuing to serve as a liaison between residents and the village on nature-related issues. Amy Binns-Calvey, the board’s chair, who drafted the amendment, said she was looking forward to what the board will be able to accomplish.

The park district is currently responsible for Reiger Park, 1526 Circle Ave.; Lathrop Park, 1138 Lathrop Ave.; Popelka Park, 501 Thomas Ave.; and Remembrance Park, 7341 Randolph St. The Rec Board is still responsible for Veterans Park, 631 Circle Ave., and the dog park at 632 Circle Ave.

Under the village council-approved revisions, the board still serves as a “conduit” between residents and the village on issues affecting village-owned green spaces, parks, and other recreational amenities. But its primary duty is now to help residents and organizations serve the community, which can include “influencing the maintenance, safety and improvement of the village-owned green space and recreational public property.” The board will be “available as a resource and a possible coordination center” for Forest Park residents and organizations wishing to organize volunteer projects. Anyone can bring proposals for service projects to the board, which will figure out what it can do to help those projects along. 

The board will also be responsible for coordinating “a minimum of two volunteer activities a year” in Forest Park. They tentatively agreed to do two community clean-ups next year — one in March and one around Halloween.

Commissioner Jessica Voogd, who serves as a liaison between the village council and the Recreation Board, said she hoped the recreation board would help get the word out about village outdoors-related regulations, such as the rule about putting decorations and signage on public rights of way. 

“As the Recreation Board makes the transition, I believe the board will be a helpful conduit for that information,” she said.

Voogd also said she was excited about the transition, and that she believed it wouldn’t be long before the board grows beyond two volunteer activities a year.

Binns-Calvey, who attended the council meeting, said she was looking forward to what the new mission will bring.

“We’re thrilled and we’re really looking forward to building a volunteer base in Forest Park,” she said. “I know there are a lot of people who love to give back, and it would be great to be a conduit for that.”

The Recreation Board meets every second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m., and meetings are open to the public. The next meeting will take place virtually on Oct. 14, and meeting inductions will be posted on the village website closer to the meeting date.