First reported 6/19/2009 2:40 p.m.

The Park District of Oak Park board of commissioners voted 4-0 Thursday night to approve plans for renovated gardens around the Oak Park Conservatory.

The work, which would comprise the Phase One master planning process for the Conservatory, will involve the Clarence Avenue frontage and the currently non-public space on the southwest corner of the Conservatory.

The park district’s attorney, Mark Burkland, said the garden renovation would be conducted “exactly like any project the park district undertakes.”

That work is estimated to cost between $179,000 and $212,000, excluding design fees. It would be funded from three sources. In addition to $30,000 from the park district budget, the Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory would provide a total of $124,292. That includes $42,000 in earmarked donations, and two-thirds of the group’s “unallocated reserves.”

The balance of the funding, up to $60,000, would come from the family of long-time Conservatory supporters, Elvira and Herbert Rubinstein.

“This has been at the top of our organization’s priority list ever since the meeting room was dedicated and the old garden destroyed,” said Sandy Lenz, president of Conservatory’s booster group. “It is dear to the hearts of our organization.”

River Forest resident Clara Rubinstein sat beneath of a photo of her mother, Elvira, and the plaque naming the Conservatory meeting room in her mother’s honor. She noted that flowers were the last thing her father Herbert still had an interest in at the end of a long and debilitating illness that took his life.

“It gave him and my mother enjoyment all their lives,” Clara Rubinstein said. “I can’t think of a better memorial for him.”

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