A group of women who raised funds for a River Forest restoration project that was never completed is objecting to a request to use the money for an architectural survey in the coming months. But confusion over who has control of the money and a lack of firm suggestions for alternative projects will bring the issue back before the village board on March 12.
At their meeting on Feb. 13, the village board agreed to set aside $12,000 so a consulting firm could conduct a village-wide survey to determine how many properties are historic. The firm wanted another $36,000 to complete the project, so the Historic Preservation Commission requested that the village use money that was raised during the village’s 125th anniversary celebration in 2005.
The 125th Anniversary Committee was planning a legacy project to restore the Cummings Memorial stage at Lake Street and Harlem Avenue. But the $30,000 they raised was not enough to cover even the first phase of cleaning and stabilizing the structure, said Laurel McMahon, the committee chair.
Now four people from the committee have come out against the request to use the money for the survey project. One was Mary “Rogue” Weiland, who said she was not necessarily against the survey, but “I think we should’ve been consulted.”
The objection letter, which was published in the Feb. 22 issue of Wednesday Journal, said the funds raised came from about 300 citizens, businesses and organizations.
The group said in the letter they felt the situation was “a breach of trust given to us from those who made donations.”
Weiland said it was “very frustrating” and “hurtful” that committee members were not contacted, but she acknowledged the group did not follow through as well as they should have. In terms of suggestions for what the money should be used for, she said the group would like something long-lasting, visible and concrete.
Village President John Rigas said he hasn’t been contacted by members of the committee, but information will be presented at the board’s March 12 meeting about the history of the money and how it’s been accounted for. Weiland said she and other members are planning to attend.
In the meantime, Rigas is open to alternate suggestions.
“Give me a menu of three things,” he said. “I don’t know if [the survey] is a good use or a bad use, but it’s a suggested use.”