A reinvigorated and more ambitious park district has taken what will be a neighborhood-pleasing step in acquiring property adjacent to the Harrison Street main park for development of expanded indoor programming, including its day camp.
Neighbors of the park have long complained about both the past use of the 7400-7412 Harrison parcel as a loud and decrepit nightclub venue and the recently proposed and defeated effort to build a good-sized apartment development on the site.
Instead, after paying the current owners $1.25 million to purchase most all of the block facing Harrison, the park district plans to demolish the former Pines/Oak Leaf Lounge, tidy up the parcel and then go searching for multiple grants and maybe a potential partner to eventually construct a new building.
We applaud the park district administration and board for its foresight in adding this property. Though we’d also note that new developments paying property taxes and providing housing to grow Forest Park’s population are also worthy.
The park district says it can pay the purchase price from its cash reserves and that no increase in property taxes will be necessary. That’s good. But let’s remember the cash reserve is money paid by local taxpayers who generously backed a park district referendum several years ago.
That money has been well spent as it resulted in the purchase of the old Roos Cedar Chest company building, the construction of the recreation facility on that land, and multiple upgrades to existing park facilities.
Now the question is whether grants will be available — and there is money flowing out of Springfield — to move the building project ahead. We wouldn’t bet against the park district.
Meanwhile, we’ll return to the perpetual mystery in Forest Park of what will happen to the precious open space that is the village-owned Altenheim property. Twenty years into its ownership and there is still no plan for the future of this gem.
We would ask that the village and the park district find some basis to work together on creating park space in Forest Park that doesn’t front on Harrison Street. This is a project that needs reinvigoration and ambition.
What a parade!
Two years of waiting. Temperatures nearing 70 degrees. Love of the Irish. A chance to hang out without a mask. Great planning by the Chamber of Commerce and cooperation from the village.
Some combination of all those factors resulted last Saturday in happiness on Madison Street as Forest Park’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade returned.
The crowd was massive and smiling. The parade was a quintessential small-town production though it lacked the presence of the great Proviso East Marching Band, owing to the ongoing strike in the school district. We’d boast that it did feature the Review’s outstanding 1942 Buick Woody station wagon, courtesy of our friend Dan Lempa.
Mainly, though, it brought back some genuine sense of normal after this two-year horror show we have all communally endured. Here’s to more gatherings, to more candy, and always more beer.