The Altenheim committee plans open days and discussion groups

The Altenheim advisory committee agreed to organize an open day and a round table, as well as to set up four discussion groups in order to obtain as much information as possible on the future of the part belonging to the village on the historic site of the retirement community of Altenheim.

The committee decided on the plan at its November 7 meeting, after a discussion of nearly 80 minutes. This built on feedback committee members received on Nov. 5 while interviewing residents at an event, their research of previous site plans, and some of their own brainstorming. The objective is to develop an “outline” of what the committee members believe should be included in a potential RFP document issued by the village that would be used to solicit development proposals.

The committee agreed to have four focus groups – local real estate agents, residents living west of the CSX tracks, residents and businesses east of the tracks and one for chamber of commerce members of Forest Park. They’ve also planned to set dates for a late afternoon open house at the Roos Recreation Center, 7329 Harrison St., and a sit-down at the Forest Park Post Office, 417 Desplaines Ave., on a Saturday. morning. Although the committee has not set exact dates, its goal is to get feedback from the focus groups and organize the public awareness events before the end of the year.

The members of the committee will present themselves on Monday, November 7, 2022, during a public forum on Altenheim, at the village hall of Forest Park. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

About twenty people, mostly residents of the Grove condominiums adjoining the Altenheim site, attended the meeting. Only a handful spoke out, expressing reservations about the process and wanting to make sure the opinions of Grove residents were taken into account. While several said the process was taking too long, there was also skepticism that the committee could really get the public feedback it was looking for within two months, especially given the colder weather and multiple distracting holidays.

The village currently owns the now vacant land to the north and south of the still operational parts of the Altenheim retirement community. Commissioners Maria Maxham and Jessica Voogd formed the 11-member advisory committee to study previous plans for the property and help the village develop a more comprehensive plan. Muse Community Design, a Chicago-based urban planning consultant, was hired to guide the process.

According to the timeline shared at the November 7 meeting, the committee is looking to complete public outreach by December 23. During his meeting on December 4, he will review sample RFPs to get an idea of ​​what the village might post, and work on the draft RFP at a meeting on January 9, 2023. Muse Director , Kindy Kruller, said that timeline isn’t necessarily set in stone and will depend on what the committee wants and what kind of feedback it receives.

Members of the public are seated Monday, November 7, 2022, at a public forum on the Altenheim, at the village hall in Forest Park. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

On November 5, committee members gathered feedback from residents participating in the Forest Park Wine Walk. Kruller said 43 participants who identified themselves as Forest Parkers were asked what they would be interested in seeing on the site. Some kind of service-related use got the highest percentage, followed by small commercial use, with some kind of residential component and indoor community space coming third and fourth. Generating tax revenue came last on the list of priorities, but committee member David Gulyas noted that the two most popular priorities would be tax generators.

At the Nov. 7 meeting, each member of the committee spoke about the feedback they received — and several said they were surprised there were residents who had never heard of open ownership. ‘Altenheim or thought his future was long decided. They agreed that this made public awareness all the more important.

“There are a lot of people who don’t know that, or who don’t know and understand the unique nature of ownership,” committee chairman Marty Tellalian said.

The committee decided to hold the open day in Roos because it is near the center of the village and because it tends to be popular with Forest Parkers in the colder months. They decided to hold it on a weekday because they thought they would get a better response from people coming home from work than chilling out over the weekend. The installation of a table at the post office came in response to suggestions from residents.

During the public comment section, Gene Armstrong, president of the Grove Midrise Condominium Association, said his organization would like to share a presentation of its internal investigations into Grove residents’ views of the site.

“Let me put it to you this way – there is no group of residents who will be more impacted by what happens in Altenheim then [The Grove residents],” he said.

Leah Shapiro, a 16-year Grove resident, argued there was no point asking ‘random people on the street who don’t even know what the land is’ about the site’s future , and focus on people near the site and “realistic possibilities”.

Ann Armstrong questioned the timing of public awareness.

“You have a lot of holidays ahead of you, you have time ahead of you,” she said. “If you really want to get the public’s opinion, you have to give the public a chance and understand that their attention is elsewhere over the next few weeks.”

For the most up-to-date information on the committee’s work, including outreach announcements, visit

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