The Forest Park Recreation Board is looking to fill its two vacant seats as it had to cancel the past two meetings due to the lack of a quorum.
Originally created to supervise village-owned pocket parks, its mission evolved to serve as more of a coordinator for village volunteer projects as most of its parks have been leased to the Park District of Forest Park.
On May 12, the rec board was supposed to discuss how it was going to screen nonprofit organizations that would get its support, get updates on the dog park fundraiser headed by 6th grader Juliet Harrington, and reschedule the community clean-up that got derailed twice due to rain. But they were unable to discuss any of this due to the lack of a quorum. The same issue at the June 9 meeting caused the board to shelve the issues again.
During the June 13 village council meeting, Commissioner of Public Property Jessica Voogd, who serves as the village council liaison to the rec board, spoke about the issue. She invited Forest Park residents to send applications to her via e-mail or by calling the village. Mayor Rory Hoskins said that, while he would consider the candidates, he wanted to take the time with the appointment process to ensure that the new appointees wouldn’t cause quorum issues.
Like all the other village boards and commissions, Recreation Board members are appointed by Forest Park mayors and confirmed by the village council. While it is supposed to have seven members, two of the seats are currently vacant.
Members serve for staggered five-year terms. Meetings are usually held every second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m., and they’ve been held online since the start of the pandemic. Under the village municipal code, the only eligibility requirement is that members must be Forest Park residents. During the June 9 meeting, board chair Amy Binns-Calvey remarked that Harrington would technically be eligible.
In 2020, the village leased four of its pocket parks — Reiger Park, 1526 Circle Ave.; Lathrop Park, 1138 Lathrop Ave.; Popelka Park, 501 Thomas Ave., and Remembrance Park, 7341 Randolph St. — to the park district for 99 years for a symbolic lease of $1 a year. As part of the deal, the park district took over the responsibility for maintaining and improving the parks. Veterans Park, 631 Circle Ave., wasn’t included in the deal because its ownership is unclear, and neither was the dog park at 632 Circle Ave.
In September 2021, the village council changed the rec board’s primary duty to helping 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 would be “available as a resource and a possible coordination center” for Forest Park residents and organizations wishing to organize volunteer projects.
Voogd previously told the Review that final decisions on which volunteer efforts would get village support will be made by village administrator’s office and, if necessary, voted on by the council.
The June 9 meeting only had two members in attendance – Binns-Calvey and Bob Dorneker. While Voogd and Director of Public Works Sal Stella attended as well, they didn’t count toward the quorum. After waiting about 10 minutes to see if anyone else would join the meeting, Binns-Calvey called it a day. But before the attendees disbursed, they agreed that recruiting more members would be a good idea.
During the June 13 meeting, Voogd summarized the situation and encouraged everyone in attendance to spread the word about the vacancies.
“You can email me if you’d like the application, you can call the village,” she said.
After the meeting, Hoskins told the Review that, while he would consider any candidate Voogd recommends, he wasn’t in any particular hurry to make the appointments.
“You don’t want to appoint someone who won’t attend the meetings,” he said.