District 91’s Grant-White Intermediate building could become a youth center by expanding children’s programming from the Mohr Community Center, under a proposal by village officials.

It comes as both sides debate what to do with unused or aging facilities. The district closed Grant-White in 2022 under its restructuring program. The Mohr Community Center needs extensive repairs.

Mayor Rory Hoskins presented the proposal at the school board’s September meeting.

He explained that Mohr hosts before-school and afterschool programs, and senior services in addition to other uses. Yet it is undergoing a “comprehensive building assessment to determine the future of that building,” he said. Its location near the Forest Park Blue Line station also is less than ideal for the area’s youth, he said.

“Because this facility provides care for our children, it’s not safe to have it accessible to persons from the train station,” Hoskins said. “There’s quite a bit of drug use unfortunately in that area.”

At the same time, Grant-White is centrally located and it has what a youth program needs: a gym, kitchen, classrooms, playground and parking.

The new youth space would launch programming for students ages 12-14, something that’s not available now. The village would seek to share costs with the district.

Community groups such as the Forest Park Theater and Forest Park Scout Troop would contribute to the programming.

“We see the site becoming a Forest Park Youth Center,” Hoskins later told the Review. 

Board member Kyra Tyler asked Hoskins what would happen if it is determined that it is not feasible to continue using the Mohr Community Center at all.

“Then we’ll have to really put our thinking caps on and explore other options,” Hoskins said.

District 91 director of engagement Nurys Uceta-Ramos told the Review that the district wants “to make sure that we are optimizing the space for what it costs to operate it” and that the board of education is “looking for something that’s going to be sustainable” for the Grant-White building.

“They’re not trying to just pass on this building and kind of wash their hands from it because they understand that it’s an asset and that they want to make sure that whatever happens with it is going to continue to bring benefits to the children, particularly students of the Forest Park public schools,” Uceta-Ramos said.

The district will host a community forum Oct. 3 at Grant-White to discuss the future of the building.