Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Chance to Voice Your Opinion to the National Park Service

It has been a while since my last post but we have some good news to share.

As you know, we were awarded an assistance grant from the National Park Service. They have been reaching out to local organizations to get their feedback on how to best use the village-owned property known as Altenheim, concerning what type of green space amenities should be developed.

They are, not, however directly addressing the performing arts venue included in our Cultural Park Concept.

They have now entered the public outreach phase of their research and are seeking opinions from the general public. They will have tables set up at the events with an Activities/Amenities poster and an Opportunities/Concerns poster for people to leave feedback. They will also have some pictures and images of the site.

As of today, the scheduled community outreach events are at the following dates/times:

Forest Park, Park District, 7501 Harrison St, Forest Park, IL 60130
 Saturday, June 30th - 11am-2pm
 Saturday, August 4th - 11am-2pm

Public Library 7555 Jackson Blvd, Forest Park, IL 60130
 Wednesday, July 25th - 4pm-7pm
 Wednesday, August 8th - 4pm-7pm

It is important that supporters of the Cultural Park Concept, including a performing arts venue, attend these meetings to voice their opinions and raise questions on how the property should be utilized.

Please plan on attending one or more of these meetings, your input is essential to moving this concept forward.

I hope to see you there.


Friday, October 6, 2017


Hi Everybody
Great news! 
The National Park Service; Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance has awarded Forest Park an Assistance Grant to study the Cultural Park Concept. This is not a monetary grant rather a technical assistance grant for the Cultural Park. They will soon be contacting the village to see how they can help the Village with studying the possibility of creating the Cultural Park.  We hope they will be able to guide us to possible funding sources.

Later this month the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) will be announcing the winners of their grant.  This grant will be for completing the actual feasibility.

For Immediate Release Contact: Mayor Calderone
Ph. 708-615-6200


Forest Park, Illinois – Mayor Anthony Calderone received great news last week when he received notice that the Village will be the recipient of a Technical Assistance Grant via the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program of the National Park Service. The grant will provide expert technical assistance in the development of a Cultural Park.
Envisioned to be built on the south end of the Altenheim, the Cultural Park has been widely discussed throughout the community as a fitting use for the vacant parcel owned by the Village. The idea is to construct a venue where a number of social and musical events could be held among the natural surroundings.
"We are super excited to have the National Park Service at our disposal to aid us if we move forward with this project," said the Mayor, adding, "their expertise in this initiative will be invaluable and we are extremely grateful for this award."
The Forest Park Cultural Park is the brainchild of resident Ralph DiFebo. Other volunteers, including residents, professional architects, and engineers have come together under an ad-hoc committee created and endorsed by the Mayor and Commissioners. Commissioner Rachell Entler is its village liaison.
In addition to this grant, the Mayor has submitted another grant application for a feasibility study offered and funded by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). The RTA/CMAP grant will help the elected officials determine if the Cultural Park can be developed. The RTA/CMAP Grant hasn’t been awarded yet but all parties involved remain hopeful.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Update on Sept 11, 2017 Presentation to the FP Commissioners

Hi Everybody

I wanted to thank everybody who was able to attend the September 11 Forest Park Board Meeting and everyone who has supported us.

In general,the presentation went wonderfully. It was well attended and I believe that the Mayor and Commissioners have a good sense of where we are.

At the meeting, we discussed two park design concepts in addition to the original one, cost estimates, sound impact and the financial feasibility of the park. 

We have applied for two grants to support further study of the Cultural Park and should hear from both of them in October. 

Several recommendations were made to the Village Board. Please click here to get to the video recording of the meeting.

If you would like to see the slides we showed, please click here. Also visit our links to the Forest Park Review’s News Article and Editorial.

Thanks for your continuing support and stay tuned October is shaping up to be a really important month.

Best Regards,


Click here for the three options presented to the Village.

Click here for the article in the Forest Park Review, and the editorial about the presentation.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

FP Review Articles about the Founder of Forest Park - Ferdinand Haase

Also comparing the original vision for Forest Park with the Cultural Park Plans and Vision. Read the articles; let's make this happen!

A couple articles by John Rice.

Article: Whatever Became of the Haase Clan?

Editorial: Haase and DiFebo, Dreaming Big

"Ferdinand Haase was the "Daniel Burnham" of Forest Park. He was a visionary who made no small plans. He wrote a letter in 1863 describing his dream for Haase's Park and for establishing a German settlement here. It's a remarkable document advocating for a park, back when access to green space could be a matter of life or death. He described Chicago as a disease-ridden city with open sewers, plagued by poor air and water quality. He could picture city dwellers flocking to his park, "a piece of country with fresh air" and a wooded area with a bathing beach on the Des Plaines River. 

"We are trying to create a place similar to Haase's dream," Ralph said, "a green space that all could come and enjoy. The Cultural Park seeks to keep this property in the public domain forever." Haase didn't have the luxury of preserving all of his property as a park. Burdened by debt, he sold off large parcels that became Concordia Cemetery and Jewish Waldheim Cemetery. He replaced Haase Park with Forest Home Cemetery.

"They both dreamed of a community-sponsored park that could be rented out for picnics and performing arts. Haase imagined a site for German festivals, while Ralph proposes a music venue, along the lines of the Ravinia Festival, each a potential money-maker for the village. "Without doubt, the park would bring big interest in money value," Haase wrote. Ralph also foresees concerts and rentals providing a revenue stream for the park. 

"However, making money is secondary to providing a "grandiose woods park" for the public. Haase imagined even "rich Americans looking longingly at Haase's Park, as a country estate for themselves." In Ralph's case, he is hoping to obtain donations, or corporate sponsorship to provide seed money for the project. He also has the support of local political leaders, who spoke of providing government funding for the project. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 2017 Update - Committee Formed and Working

We have added a new set of slides at this link.

A lot has happened since our last update.
You may recall that last January, the FP Village Council formed a citizens’ committee to develop further the concept of a cultural park on the Altenheim property.
That committee consists of Rachell Entler, Ralph DiFebo, Carole Morey, David Show, Kathleen Garness, Kim Rostello, Patti Marino, Ryan Nero and Todd Petersen.
In general, we see our mission as to flesh out some reasonable potential developments for the park, analyze and compare the good and bad of each, work with the council members to understand their preferences, and submit a recommendation to the Village Council.
The important values that we are aiming at for the park to deliver include: benefit of the park to the community, overall cost effectiveness, potential revenue, and low risk to the village.
We have met four times so far and are making good progress. We are developing several alternatives, ranging from a low-end case through a larger and more comprehensive concept, like the sketches that have already been made public.
We hope to have a recommendation developed and fleshed out by Thanksgiving, ready to deliver to the Village Council for their consideration and approval. In the meantime, we also have several paths being pursued to ensure that significant roadblocks are understood and managed.
Committee meeting announcements are posted at Village Hall.
Please contact us if you have any questions of comments.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

12/19/2016 Meeting: Ad Hoc Committee Approved by Council, Being Formed

As reported in the Forest Park Review:

At the last Forest Park Village Council meeting on December 19, the mayor approved the formation of an ad hoc committee to further study the concept of a cultural park. Each council member will nominate one person to serve on the committee, and one of the committee members will act as a liaison between the committee and the council.

"Let's make this vision a reality," Calderone said, to which Commissioner Tom Mannix said, "Let's tee it up."

Commissioners will nominate the members on either January 9 or 23, at which time the ad hoc committee will be formed. DiFebo will be a member of the committee as well.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cultural Park on the Agenda, December 19, 2016

Bad news / Good news

Unfortunately, I received an email from the Oak Park River Forest Foundation informing us that we did not make the final cut for the Big Idea grant. We extend congratulations to all of the finalists and wish them all luck as they move forward. Although the results were disappointing we are not discouraged, rather I think the process has reinvigorated our resolve to seek funding. The search for funds will continue from all possible sources.

Now for the good news, WE ARE BACK ON THE AGENDA!. The Cultural Park is going to be on the Village Council's agenda. The creation of an ad hoc committee will be discussed at the next board meeting on December 19th meeting at 6:55 PM in the evening. We'll post an event on the Facebook page. Here is the link to the event.

I encourage everyone to attend the meeting and show support for turning our Cultural Park Concept into a plan and then into a park!

I hope to see you on December 19th.

Ralph DiFebo

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