State finally releases grant funds for four local projects

Altenheim demo, resurfacing of lot and streets, pump station upgrade

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By Maria Maxham

In what Mayor Rory Hoskins called "a pretty good week in Forest Park," four grants, two which had been frozen since 2014, were activated.

At a Feb. 10 village council meeting, Hoskins announced that two grants had been activated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Funds, which were suspended due to the state's budget impasse, will be available soon. Both these grants will cover 100 percent of project costs with no village funds needed.

The first is a $550,000 grant for reconstruction of the village owned lot north of the Blue Line CTA station by Van Buren Street, where the annual St. Patrick's parade is staged.

The second, for $250,000, is to install a backup generator at the south pump station located north of Building 4 at the Park District of Forest Park. This generator will be used to keep water flowing during the event of an extended power outage.

A third grant in the amount of $120,000 and part of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program from Cook County was awarded and will be used for resurfacing streets south of Roosevelt Road, including the 1300, 1400 and 1500 blocks of Elgin and spot curb and sidewalk repair.

In a Jan. 13 presentation to the village council, Jim Amelio of the town's contracted engineering firm Christopher Burke Engineering explained that with CDBG grants, only certain areas of town are eligible.

"The pocket south of Roosevelt is eligible for the money," said Amelio, though north of Roosevelt is not, which is why the village selected the south blocks of Elgin Avenue for the resurfacing project.

Finally, Hoskins said the village got word last week that the $750,000 promised by the state for the demolition of derelict buildings on the village owned Altenheim site will be available soon.

"Staff is completing paperwork this week," said Hoskins about the grant, a member initiative sponsored by State Representative Emanuel "Chris" Welch and State Senator Kimberly Lightford.

"We hope to start work by mid-summer," said Hoskins of the Altenheim demolition, which will take down five abandoned structures on the property, including the chapel and a garage used for storage. Nearly half the expense, which is estimated to be between $750,000 and $800,000, is for removal of asbestos, which is time-consuming and expensive, according to Steve Glinke, director of public health and safety for the village.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian said he expects the other three projects to begin in late spring or early summer. Amelio is in the process of putting together plans and specs, and the village will then go out to bid. The exception is the parking lot project, for which the village originally accepted bids but never awarded because the money was frozen. Gillian said the village will need guidelines from the state on how to proceed, but this project, too, should begin by summer.

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