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A plan for Altenheim

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Opinion: Editorials

June 18th, 2019 2:27 PM

By Editorial

Demolition is a good start to a necessary reimagining of the village government-owned property at the Altenheim. So it is good news that, as one small component of the state of Illinois finally snapping into focus and adopting both a budget and an infrastructure plan, Forest Park will receive funds to demolish the four derelict buildings remaining on the property.

Like others, we're disappointed that the old chapel will be among the buildings razed. It has both historical and architectural virtue. But the ravages of weather and time have made the building unreclaimable, and like the others, is an active threat to safety.

Good work by state Senator Kimberly Lightford, state Rep. Chris Welch, and Mayor Rory Hoskins in bringing home these funds. Truth is that after a long and purposeless drought in state funding, there is now money falling from the sky. Glad Forest Park got this share. Earlier efforts by the village to find other funding sources for the demolition were doomed to fail in a gridlocked political era.

Hoskins said he hopes to see demolition take place this fall with those sites converted to grass as an interim step.

Here's the real issue now. What will Hoskins and the new village council do next to make a genuine plan for the future use of this valued open space? The village has now owned these 11 acres for 18 years and has nearly paid off the money borrowed to make this visionary purchase. 

Earlier development plans — a new YMCA, a private high school athletic facility —  came and went. A citizen-driven music and cultural park concept remains an option. But village government sputtered in its effort to drive a planning process. We want to see this new administration make headway, and fast, on evaluating options for this site and crafting both a timeline and a funding mechanism to make something wonderful happen here.

Demolition is good. Creating what comes next is really the point though.

A mold contretemps

After a whirlwind of charges and intense social media response to those charges, here's what we know and believe about the issue of mold at Field-Stevenson elementary and Forest Park middle school. District 91 did an adequate job of responding to internal allegations by a district nurse that there was a mold issue in the school. Bringing in outside testing firms to monitor both mold and air quality, the district promised parents and the community that the building is within federal standards. 

We're satisfied. 

An unrelated odor problem in the middle school is still to be addressed. The district will work this summer to assess and repair a possibly corroded pipe that may be the source of an offensive odor.

Our experience in covering this district is that it actively invests in its infrastructure. We expect that the odor issue will be resolved by fall.

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