Mars International is working with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)’s Chicago affiliate and several area community groups to put on six community workshops. The workshops will help gauge the community’s vision for the factory at 2019 N Oak Park Ave. in Galewood.
The company announced in January that it would wind down operations at the factory. The company plans to close the factory in 2024.
Mars said it would donate the land to whatever developer presents a proposal the community supports.
Since then, it has contracted LISC Chicago to do community outreach. The organization teamed up with Galewood Neighbors, the Austin Coming Together coalition, and the Northwest Side Housing Center to create a vision representing all communities adjacent to the factory.
The groups released a community survey and are now moving on to host community planning meetings.
The first virtual planning session will be on Aug. 31, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The next four meetings will happen in person throughout Austin, Montclare, and Belmont Cragin.
While the statement released by LISC Chicago says that residents don’t have to attend every session, each session builds on the one that precedes it, with participants working from the initial brainstorming toward potential concepts.
The Galewood plant opened in 1929 on the 20-acre westward Ho golf course site, next to what eventually became Metra’s Milwaukee District West line.
In the statement, Mars indicated that it understands that the plant has anchored several West Side neighborhoods for over 90 years. The company wants to be a good neighbor by donating the land.
According to the announcement, the first meeting will set the stage for the planning process, with attendees discussing the scope of the site and the “opportunity” it presents. Residents will need to register to get the meeting link.
The second session will happen on Sept. 13, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Rutherford Sayre Park Field House, located near the factory site, at 6871 W. Belden Ave. It will look at how the factory fits into the historic fabric of the city and the neighborhoods immediately surrounding it.
The third session will take place on Sept. 24, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, at Galewood’s Sayre Language Academy elementary school, 1850 N Newland Ave.
The fourth session will happen on Oct. 8, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, at the Austin Town Hall field house, 5610 W. Lake St.
The final session will happen on Oct. 19, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at Belmont Cragin Elementary School, 6112 W Fullerton Ave.
For more information and to register for any of the meetings, visit: https://galewoodneighbors.org/Mars-Community-Meetings