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CDBG grant could fund Altenheim chapel demolition

Village on second go-round with Cook County grant proposals

March 13th, 2018 5:40 PM

By Robert J. Lifka

Contributing Reporter

Forest Park officials are hoping their second attempts at requesting funding from Cook County will allow them to undertake a pair of projects.

At Monday's meeting, the village council voted to apply for two grants, one a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to help fund the demolition of the chapel building on the village-owned Altenheim property and the other a $120,800 Invest in Cook County grant to help fund the construction of a sidewalk on Van Buren Street from Madison Street to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line station.

Forest Park also applied for grants to fund both projects in 2017 but was unsuccessful.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian said the CDGB grant application is the same as last year's but some modifications were made to the Invest in Cook grant application to improve the village's chances.

He noted the grant programs are competitive and Cook County typically receives applications for more projects than they can fund.

"Everybody applies and they've only got so much money," Gillian added. "Hopefully we'll be successful this year. We've gotten something from them before."

Village officials have been concerned for over a year about the possible collapse of the chapel on the Altenheim property at Madison and Van Buren. The village bought the 11-acre property for $3.6 million in 2001. Over the years, several ideas for development, including from Fenwick High School and the West Cook YMCA, were eventually scrapped. More recently, the village is considering creation of a cultural park on the property.

The demolition project would not take place until 2019, beginning in January and concluding in October with actual demolition scheduled to take place in June, July and August. Following demolition, the area would become a grassy area.

The total cost of demolition and removal of debris is $440,000 with the village covering the remaining $40,000 of the cost. Gillian explained previously that the high cost of demolition is due to environmental considerations, specifically asbestos.

Construction of the sidewalk on Van Buren is part of the village's larger plan to create multi-modal transportation options throughout the village and is supported by Forest Park's Comprehensive Plan and the village's Active Transportation Plan.

Called the Forest Park Van Buren Street Sidewalk Gap Project, it involves constructing 1,600 linear feet of a 7-foot-wide concrete sidewalk on the west side of the street. In the grant application, village officials said the project would encourage more people to walk to the CTA Blue Line station and continue their trip via public transportation instead of driving to the same destination.

The total cost is estimated to be $151,000 with the village covering the remaining $30,200 of the cost. If the village receives the grant funding, the project would start in March 2019 and finish in May 2019.