Forest Park Mayor: Not selling vacant land to OPRFHS

Informal proposal for high school baseball, softball, tennis at Altenheim parcel ruled out

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By Jean Lotus

Forest Park Review Editor

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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Friar Tuck from OP  

Posted: January 19th, 2015 10:43 AM

Per FP Comp Plan,sports fields a no go: "As part of this purchase, an agreement was signed to indicate that future development on the property would be limited to eight acres of residential dwelling units or uses permitted under...the Zoning Ordinance. The uses must not interfere with "the reasonable, quiet enjoyment by the residents of the A and B Buildings...and of the surrounding property retained by the Altenheim." The existing buildings also may be used for governmental, office businesses."

Wild Goose Chase  

Posted: January 19th, 2015 9:47 AM

This whole "90 days to find an alternate site for baseball or tennis" is a red herring. 90 days is not enough time to nail down a parcel of land and come to a cooperative agreement with a village government, park district, community college or whatever. In 90 days we will be back to the garage site...


Posted: January 18th, 2015 8:39 PM

@Brian-They already have plans for the old Braach's site:

ClaireD from Oak Park  

Posted: January 17th, 2015 10:34 AM

Ald. Jason Ervin said he wants something that will generate jobs to be built on the site -- manufacturing, service, or as a last resort, education. A ball field ain't gonna cut it.

Brian Slowiak from Westchester  

Posted: January 17th, 2015 9:22 AM

The Braachs candy company parcel at Lake and Cicero is open,unused and in need of development.

Bob Burns  

Posted: January 17th, 2015 9:18 AM

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men/Gang aft agley,


Posted: January 17th, 2015 9:14 AM

It's a big ask to go to a neighboring community for land. Especially when we have taxing bodies in OPRF who have recreational facilities that could be improved within the district.

Elephant in the room  

Posted: January 17th, 2015 8:47 AM

Calderone figured it out back when Fenwick wanted to buy the land: sell to a tax exempt entity you get no tax revenue. Sadly, the OP village board hasn't figured that out.

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