Forest Park’s Village Council voted unanimously on June 13 to confirm the appointment of an 11-member Altenheim Advisory Committee, which will help decide the future of the village-owned portion of the Altenheim property.

The process has been spearheaded by Commissioner of Public Property Jessica Voogd and Commissioner of Public Health and Safety Maria Maxham, who said they wanted any decision regarding the site’s future to be transparent. The commissioners also wanted an advisory body that will be able to look at all the studies and proposals related to the site that have been prepared in the past. During the June 13 meeting, the commissioners said that they were impressed with the sheer quality and the amount of applicants. 

Maxham told the Review that, now that the committee has been appointed, they will consult with the members to see what meeting times work best for them. She said that she hopes to have the first meeting by the end of June, and she expects the committee to meet monthly. 

Voogd previously told the council that, with all of the proposals that have already been developed, it made sense to put together a committee that would “come together and put it all in one place.”

The two commissioners said they wanted to have a group of residents and stakeholders on the committee. The appointees include interior design consultant David Gulyas, Tree City expert Kurt Hansen, attorney Therese O’Brien, architect and Altenheim retirement community board member Mark Zinni, previous village commissioner Marty Tellalian, and residents Roberto Escalante, Karen Swinger, Scott Presslak, Steven Rouse, Jocelyn Sims and Geoff Smith.

Gulyas, who attended the meeting, said he had a special relationship with Altenheim. He lives at the Grove townhouse development east of the Altenheim site, and his father spent the last eight months of his life at the Altenheim retirement community. Gulyas said he looked forward to being part of the committee, comparing it to a charette — a collaborative sessions where designers work together to develop a concept.

“It’s a very important part of the design process,” he said. 

Voogd said she appreciated everyone who applied.

“We really appreciate everybody taking the time to apply and chat with us about volunteering on this committee,” she said. “It’s really great to see everyone in our community coming forward and trying to do what’s right and be transparent in the open way.”

Maxham agreed, saying that she was impressed with just how many well-qualified candidates they got to choose from.

“I’m really, really thrilled with the committee we put together,” she said. “The hardest thing was deciding who to put on the committee.”