RF park board looks ahead

? Dudek wants to fast-track resubmission of Keystone West lights application to Development Review Board.

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With the $2.1 renovation of the Keystone Park complex now behind them, the River Forest Park District Board of Commissioners is wasting no time moving ahead with both general and specific plans for the future. In a 2-hour meeting at village hall?#34;blessedly free of disruptions by passing freight and passenger trains so common at the park district headquarters?#34;the park board discussed goals and objectives for the 2005 year. It also hammered out a compromise on how to approach the upcoming resubmission of an application to the village's Development Review Board (DRB) for lights on the west side of Keystone Park.

Park board President Stephen Dudek and Treasurer Holly Hirst clashed a bit on exactly how to approach the Keystone West application process. Dudek advocated strongly for moving the process along quickly and not allowing it to become sidetracked. The process required a neighborhood meeting, a pre-filing conference, and at least one, and possibly two, appearances before the DRB, as well as final approval by the village board.

Those time constraints, Dudek said, raised the specter of missing an autumn window for final village approval and the start of actual work on the project. The park board, he insisted, already had all the information it needed to proceed. Dudek said the board needed only to address the deficiencies specified in the Development Review Board's "findings of fact" regarding the park's previous application, and funnel individual board member's comments parks Executive Director Thomas Grundin for assessment.

"Between the comments from DRB members at the pre-filing, and our study of the DRB's findings of fact, the feeling is [we] will have all the indications [we] need of changes that must be made," he said, insisting that formal discussion of the application as an agenda item by the park board was not needed.

However, Hirst argued that the lights application, which had initially been unanimously rejected by the DRB last fall, then withdrawn from the village board's consideration by the park district attorney, merited a fuller formal discussion, with a chance for board members to respond to each other's arguments face to face. Whether that discussion took one hour or one minute, she said, it should take place.

"You have to remember," she said, "the reason we're refiling is because we weren't successful the first time."

Dudek finally relented and set a July 11 date for both the required neighborhood meeting and a subsequent park board meeting.

Differences aside, Dudek, Hirst, and their fellow commissioners expressed confidence that the public's positive reaction to the new lights in Keystone East bodes well for the prospect of approval of lights in Keystone West.

Board members also discussed a proposed goals and objectives list for 2005 that commissioner Ronald Steele called "a road map to the future."

Board Vice President Thomas Lamm acknowledged that the board was already dealing with a number of the issues outlined in the list, but said a more formal, specific set of objectives and tasks was necessary.

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