By Jean Lotus
An informal meeting with a volunteer member of the Oak Park and River Forest High School pool committee and Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone ruled out the possibility of the high school to the east using the vacant Altenheim property, south of 7824 W. Madison St., for high school sports.
"OPRF is interested in buying property. The Altenheim property is not for sale," Calderone texted Friday.
Tuesday, Pool Committee Volunteer Thomas Cronin, a River Forest lawyer, mentioned the Altenheim at an OPRF public meeting as a possible spot for the relocation of OPRF baseball, softball or tennis programs. The high school will be building a new pool on the site of the current baseball diamonds.
Cronin told the Review he met with Calderone in early January to propose using the property for youth sports. Because the property had been proposed as a potential YMCA in 2007 and a site of a Fenwick sports stadium, Cronin said he thought the village would be amenable to using the parcel for high school sports.
"It's good for the neighboring communities. There is exploding activity in youth sports," he said. "What I saw as my service on the committee, was to find solutions for the problem and investigate any space that's open or might be available."
"When you talk about youth sports, you have to think of Altenhiem," Cronin said. "Other people have identified [the parcel] as a possibility for local sports." Fenwick High School submitted a Letter of Intent in 2013 to buy the property for a sports stadium. At that point Calderone said the property was on hold until the village's comprehensive plan was finished. The plan was completed and approved last month.
Cronin said he envisioned the parcel would be used for multiple schools, or shared with the park district as OPRFHS does with practice fields at Oak Park's Lindberg Park.
"There's no reason there couldn't be an asset that couldn't be owned by different taxing bodies," he said, noting that the pool committee was trying to be fiscally responsible. He said he envisioned "partnering with other public entities to service other kids in the area."
Cronin described his meeting with Calderone as casual and preliminary.
Calderone "listened to me and was very gracious. That was as far as it got," Cronin said.
But Calderone seemed to have ruled out the prospect Friday.
"After my short visit with Tom Cronin, we concluded there was nothing to discuss," he texted. "The Village of Forest Park will look forward to using this property in such a way that best serves the village," he added
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