Congregation Beth Am Plans Relocation

The Buffalo Grove Park District hopes to purchase the building and convert it into a performing arts center.

After 13 years in its building on McHenry Road, is looking for a new home.

It won’t be the first move for Congregation Beth Am, which began in 1979 by gathering in a member’s basement and made stops at and its first own building in Wheeling before opening its doors in Buffalo Grove in 1999.

It will, however, be the first time the congregation’s move is prompted by a decline in funds and membership.

“We find ourselves with the demographics not in our favor, the economy not in our favor and we live in an era in which more than 40% of liberal Jewish families choose to not affiliate with a congregation,” Rabbi Lisa Sari Bellows wrote in a newsletter article titled “Moving Not Closing” that is posted online. “We are, of course, not alone in this struggle. There is not a congregation in the Chicagoland area who is not facing hardships.”

“Guided by our own research, number crunching, debate and discussion, leadership and staff have come to know that we cannot change the facts or reality — as much as we would like to or have tried to do over the last several years. So with strength and courage, the heart-wrenching decision to put our building on the market for sale was made,” she wrote.

The building is listed for sale for an unspecified price. The listing describes the assets as 5.5 acres, a 38,900-square-foot building and 120 parking spots.

The hopes to purchase the building and convert it into a performing arts center that will feature an auditorium, dance studios, classrooms and spaces for other park district programs, according to a plan that to the Village Board. The park district would need a special use permit to proceed with its plans.

Congregation Beth Am would continue to hold services and classes in the building through June 2013, Buffalo Grove Park District Executive Director Dan Schimmel and Director of Recreation and Facilities Ryan Risinger wrote in a letter to Village Manager Dane Bragg.

The park district would iron out its design plans during that time, and begin renovations next summer, they said.

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A concerned citizen of BG August 06, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Our tax dollars, again being wated by the park district!!
RELENTLESSCRITIC August 06, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Concerened Citizen- I respectfully disagree with you. These types of facilities are as important to the community as public pools, soccer fields, parks and playgrounds. Not everyone is into sports, and this facility would expand and enhance the PD's ability to serve a much broader range of residents. Also, facilities like this in other communities do generate revenue because they are used for concerts, plays, dance recitals, etc. Not certain if that's the plan for BG, but it is certainly a possibility. And finally, having a strong PD with outstanding facilities can have a very positive and significant impact on our property values. Even if you don't use any of the facilities, you still benefit from them in the long run. The few extra tax dollars a year are worth it if it will help boost property values, improve the reputation of the village and provide more opportuinities for residents to participate. For the record- I doubt that I or my family would use the facility frequently, but I fully support it based on what I know so far. I view it as an investment in the community- not a liability.
Sandy Klein August 06, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Maybe a vote by the public is in order before doing this? Because quite frankly, I would like to see more information on whether or not this is a fiscally sound decision before the park district goes ahead with this plan.
Terra Patterson August 06, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I totally agree with Sandy!!
RELENTLESSCRITIC August 06, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Absolutely. There are feasability studies and other due diligence that need to happen so we know the full scope & impact of a project like this. It will most likely end up on the ballot as a referendum, if it even gets that far. No one will be getting their checkbooks out to write a check for it tonight.
BG Park District Patron August 08, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Having a public vote is ridiculous. The last time the public had a vote concerning the park district was to renovate the outdoor pool and make it an "aquatic center" similar to Wheeling and that was voted down. One of the biggest complaints from park district patrons is why we don't have a center like Wheeling. The answer is....."you voted not to." Buying this building and having it renovated may cost a bit in the beginning but in the long run will be an asset. They will no longer have to spend extra money to rent schools, like Ivy Hall and Stevenson, for performances. This is, in my opinion, one of the smartest moves they have made!
RELENTLESSCRITIC August 08, 2012 at 01:31 AM
SO Patron... what you're saying is that residents can't be trusted to make deicisions about how their tax dollars are spent? I wasn't happy that the aquatic center was voted down, but the last time I checked, we were still living in a democracy and majority rules. So that's what happened, like it or not.
BG Park District Patron August 08, 2012 at 01:52 AM
What I'm saying is those same people who voted it down are the same ones complaining. They want all the perks but without the hassle in their lives. I realize that this happens everywhere but I'm tired of "lazy" citizens. They are all me, me, me.
Your friendly neighbor August 08, 2012 at 06:24 AM
I believe this is a brilliant idea. I don't think it needs a vote, there is a clear demand for it. The lack of theatre/classroom/studio space we have now is laughable and embarrassing. I think this is the smartest decision the Buffalo Grove Park District has made in a long time. What a great move. :)
Rachel February 08, 2013 at 06:04 PM
We are sad that nobody ever mentions the elementary school that is located in the building. What will become of those kids and their education ?


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