While future uses of the former Healy’s West Side are likely to give a percentage of Forest Parkers a case of frayed nerves, the concept about to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission is an intriguing one.
Donnie Biggins, well known locally as a music performance booker, is seeking approval to open a music venue in the space most recently home to the Forest Park Tap Room. Biggins, in an email to the Review, said he saw the space as “a high-end, live performance venue and community space” for the village of Forest Park.
The Tap Room, which is still on people’s minds, was an endless controversy as its owners routinely violated a string of local ordinances related to liquor service, crowd control, and any semblance of respect for COVID operating restrictions at a time when that issue was most critical.
All that ree-raw infuriated a crowd of locals, ranging from the mayor, to the police chief, to other business owners working to comply with local laws, and especially to immediate neighbors near Madison and Circle who had to put up with endless disturbances. The liquor license for the Tap Room was ultimately pulled and, thankfully, it closed.
But the space must ultimately be filled. And a music venue, most certainly one with a liquor license, has its virtues and its worries. This is a landlocked building with concerns over parking. Such a venue will draw evening crowds. But Biggins, who worked for years booking acts at the iconic FitzGerald’s in Berwyn, understands that an audience turning out for a performance is different from a crowd attending an amped-up bar.
We’ll be curious to see where this proposal goes, how attentive its potential operator will be to its neighbors, and what conditions the village government will possibly impose.
A comfortable interim
Nothing about the firing of Moses Amidei as Forest Park’s village administrator and now the promotion of Rachell Entler as the interim administrator has been transparent. And Mayor Rory Hoskins is responsible for the lack of candor. Village commissioners, who have been uniformly silent, are complicit.
Amidei’s dismissal can rightly be kept under cover as a personnel matter. And we will settle for the quiet comments that Amidei lacked decisiveness and was not moving the village forward.
The rapid rise of Entler is another matter. A former village council member from 2015 to 2019 and a longtime park district mid-manager, Entler moved to village hall as Hoskins’ administrative assistant about a year back.
The mayor initially told the Review that he had no interim manager in mind and that Entler was not in line for the post. That changed suddenly last week when she was approved unanimously by the council.
The new mystery is when will the council announce its plan for a search for a permanent manager? Our guess is never. Our supposition is that, in a very Forest Park way, the local person with deep roots in town has just been given the permanent post.
The mayor can prove us wrong and announce a legitimate search. We will wait for the announcement.