What’s in the cards for the former Christ Presbyterian Church and parsonage properties at 2342 and 2350 8th Ave. in North Riverside? With the village’s comprehensive plan still a work in progress and a mayoral election scheduled for next April, it’s too soon to say.
But, Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti told the Landmark last week that the Parks and Recreation Department is eyeing the site as a potential new home, which would include the department’s offices and a freestanding recreation center.
“Recreation identified a need to expand their operations and facilities space,” said Scarpiniti, who said that plan included the construction of a full-service recreation center that would allow the department to move out of the Village Commons into its own facility.
Scarpiniti said the village’s lobbyist in Springfield is attempting to convince state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), whose 4th District includes North Riverside, to support grant funding for such a project.
However, that doesn’t mean a rec center is a foregone conclusion, said Scarpiniti, since individual elected officials have differing opinions on the best use for the property.
Residents, especially those who live in the neighborhood, are sure to have opinions on the future of the property. Scarpiniti said the future of the property likely would be addressed as part of the comprehensive planning process, with “a series of public meetings” allowing for resident input.
In the meantime, the mid-century modern church building and the raised-ranch parsonage next door on the northwest corner of 8th Avenue and 24 Street was scheduled for demolition beginning the week of Nov. 30.
Markham-based KLF Enterprises was the low bidder for demo work, and the $107,989 cost to abate the asbestos and take down the buildings is being funded via a state grant.
According to Scarpiniti, it will take eight to 10 days to complete the demolition of both buildings.
In November, North Riverside’s police department has used the church and home for K-9 unit training, while the fire department has used it to conduct rooftop training, saw-cutting sections of the roofs of both the church and parsonage.
The village also salvaged about 10 pews from the church and gave them away to anyone who wanted to come by and take them. They disappeared within 20 minutes of the village posting about the giveaway on social media, Scarpiniti said.
Once the structures are demolished, the short-term plan is for the village to turf over the parcel, which is a little more than a half-acre. Due to the time of year, however, the turf won’t be laid until next spring.
It will remain open space until the village decides what to do with the property.
The village purchased the two properties on Feb. 3 for $500,000 after they were placed on the market with a total listing price of $975,000.
The village decided to pull the trigger on the purchase late last year after a deal with another buyer fell through.
“In a landlocked community like ours, I think it’s a great acquisition,” Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. said last December.