RF park board facing changes in April

? With two members leaving after six year terms and a third running for unexpired two year term, board make up will change significantly in April.

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By BILL DWYER

The only thing certain at present about the future make up of the River Forest Park District is uncertainty. As of Monday, only two people, Dale Jones and Holly Hirst, had picked up filing papers for the April election at the park district office. Jones could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The park board Monday appointed Hirst to fill the post of former Commissioner Kathleen Nooney, who died last January. Hirst, a senior counsel with SBC, said Monday that she was undecided as to whether she would be running for the final two years of Nooney's term, or seek election to one of two open six year terms.

Board president Colleen Horrigan will step down after the completion of her term in April, as will Commissioner Maureen Dwyer. The only commissioners not standing for reelection this April are vice-president Stephen Dudek, who has two years remaining on his term, and Commissioner Thomas Lamm, who has four years remaining.

In other developments:

? Opposition to the Keystone Park lighting policy was expressed again Monday night. With the park board planning to go before the village's Development Review Board with a revised application sometime early next year, Joe and Joan O'Conner of 351 Thatcher let the board know that they should expect continued opposition from park neighbors. Joe O'Conner said that unless the board made it clear to lighting opponents what the specific needs of various athletic users of the park were, they would continue to oppose the plan as "arbitrary and unreasonable." Seconding her husband, Joan O'Conner criticized the lights policy as "entirely open ended."

? The board expressed interest in working with the village's 125th Anniversary Committee on tentative plans for an April 16 celebration kick off. Committee chairperson Laurel McMahon invited the district to send a representative to the committee's next meeting, Monday at 7 p.m. in the second floor conference room of Village Hall. Executive Director Thomas Grundin stated that he will represent the board that night.

McMahon, who is active with historic preservation in River Forest, also inquired as to any progress regarding the board's ongoing negotiations with the River Forest Women's Club, in assuming ownership of the landmark building.

? The board voted to authorize the next to final payment of $174,942 to Great Lakes Landscaping, the principal contractor in the $2.6 million Keystone project. It also authorized Grundin to let out $175,000 in Tax Anticipation bonds to cover the expenditure while the district awaits additional property tax revenue from the county.

? The board approved the declaration of a levy of $1,064,541 for the 2004 tax year. Grundin said that a special meeting of the park board will be scheduled within the next several days to formally adopt that levy, which must then be filed with the Cook County Clerk by December 27.

? Discussed hiring an experienced grant writer to improve the district's chances of securing state grants for improvements to Centennial and Washington Parks.

"It can only help us," said Grundin recommending such a move.

Contact: bdwyer@wjinc.com

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