Last fall, the Western Springs legacy committee, which is part of the steering committee for the Village's upcoming quasquicentennial celebrations, began to consider the idea of something permanent as a legacy gift.
“Traditionally during an anniversary celebration such as 100th, 125th, 175th... a legacy gift is presented to a community to commemorate it, and we reached out to the community saying that we'd like to hear suggestions,” said Lucy Carter Smith, Village Management Analyst.
“The legacy committee was charged with investigating and seeing numbers that would go along with it and how difficult these gifts would be to not only purchase, but to implement... So now we have three opportunities coming out of that work."
One idea for a public art installation came from Wayne Bush of Western Springs.
“I had an idea to do something along the train tracks that would represent our community, add some interest, create a beacon to all the visitors," explained Bush. "We came up with the idea of doing four pillars that would be called 'Pillars of the Community.
"One would represent the schools and education, one would represent the churches or our faith, the third one would represent the commerce or businesses of the community... and the fourth one would represent the arts and recreation."
The concept showed them being about nine feet tall and about 30 inches in diameter. Bush's vision included pillars covered with glazed tiles, designed by children and youth of the community. A professional artist would interpret the children's drawings and transfer it onto fire-glazed tiles.
Bush, whose background is in interior and architectural design, has been involved in community mosaic art projects in Chicagoland with artist Sonata Kazimieraitiene of Lill Street Arts Center in Chicago. His wife suggested that something of a similar nature may be appropriate to mark the 125thbirthday of Western Springs.
The second plan would call for the construction of benches and lighting set within Tower Green. A third concept includes a permanent sign structure that would carry a temporary banner to replace the unstable signage often used along Hillgrove Avenue near the Tower.
“The Village has been planning upgrade to the lighting that was over there, so [the second plan] would be in conjunction with that," said Smith. "[With the plan,] the Tower Green becomes more useful [for events] without us having to tote lights from the fire department."
Which option eventually ends up being chosen may depend largely on fundraising, including how much members of the Western Springs community will be willing to contribute.
“The Village has set aside a modest budget to honor the importance of 125 years of incorporation, but we want the legacy budget to come from the community's participation," wrote Village-committee liaison from the Village board, Janet Dahl, in an e-mail.
"Our residents have many charities that they support, and we have no way of estimating how we will be supported until we do our mailings. Rather than set a goal that could be too aggressive, we will let the participation that follows our solicitation determine the scope of the celebration and the gift."
Smith explained that the first priority right now is the success and safety of the birthday celebration on January 30th.. However, fund raising letters are being drafted for the legacy gift. When the effects of those fund raising efforts start to reveal themselves, probably in the middle of next year, the committee will reach out to residents to gain more “empirical evidence” as for what they would like to use the funds.
“We will do that through an online survey, we'll have some hard copies available as well. But we want to make sure we have an accurate pulse of the community as to what the majority of the community members desire,” said Smith.
(Works by Sonata Kazimieraitiene and Wayne Bush can be viewed at the Green Hills Public Library in Palos Hills, IL, the Eisenhower Public Library, in Harwood Heights, IL, and Ridgewood High School in Norridge, IL.)