D97 drops village hall parking lot proposal

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

District 97 is no longer pursuing the option of building its new headquarters on Oak Park Village Hall land.

The D97 board has taken that option off the table and has informed village officials of that decision. The district was looking for some indication from the village of whether officials there thought building on village hall land would benefit the community economically. 

Not satisfied with what they've heard from village trustees thus far, D97 has removed the village hall parking lot site from its options, says D97 board President Bob Spatz.

The D97 board approved an official resolution of its decision about the parking lot site on Jan. 14.

"While we are voting tonight to officially remove the space behind village hall as an option for our administration building, we thank the village for the time and effort they invested in the exploration of this project," Spatz said at last Tuesday's meeting, reading from an official statement released by the school district.

Spatz added that the village expressed interest in continuing to discuss the parking lot option but offered nothing "material" concerning that option. The village, he said, has not provided the school district with a "compelling argument or information" on how the parking lot option would benefit the community economically.

"Therefore, after a year of exploring this concept, we have reached a point where we need to move forward with plans not only for our administration building, but for other capital projects and expenditures that are critical to the effective operation of our schools," Spatz said, reading from the statement.

In a rare move, the school district had set a Jan. 14 deadline for deciding whether to continue talks with the village about the proposed project — a deadline contingent on the village stating publicly where it stood.

The parking lot site drew staunch opposition from neighbors in the area. Spatz acknowledged that opposition at the board meeting.

"We also thank the citizens of Oak Park for the passion and candor they contributed to the discussion about this topic," he said. "While we held opposing viewpoints about various aspects of this possible concept, the feedback we received from residents throughout this process highlighted not only the numerous opportunities that exist for community engagement and involvement, but also the value we place on them."

D97 has other options under consideration for a new headquarters, including becoming a tenant in the proposed Madison-Highlands development or possibly purchasing the 101 Madison high-rise. Spatz said the school district has also inquired about becoming a tenant in a downtown Oak Park property. 

The 101 Madison building is a "low priority," Spatz added, noting that the building carries a large tax bill of roughly $100,000 annually that D97 would have to pick up. D97 is not looking to remain at its 970 Madison building, where district headquarters has been since the 1970s. Spending millions of dollars to upgrade that building, D97 officials maintain, is not cost-effective for the district. 

Spatz said the district hopes to make a decision later this spring concerning a location for its new headquarters.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

The D97 board has taken that option off the table and has informed village officials of that decision. The district was looking for some indication from the village of whether officials there thought building on village hall land would benefit the community economically. 

Not satisfied with what they've heard from village trustees thus far, D97 has removed the village hall parking lot site from its options, says D97 board President Bob Spatz.

The D97 board approved an official resolution of its decision about the parking lot site on Jan. 14.

"While we are voting tonight to officially remove the space behind village hall as an option for our administration building, we thank the village for the time and effort they invested in the exploration of this project," Spatz said at last Tuesday's meeting, reading from an official statement released by the school district.

Spatz added that the village expressed interest in continuing to discuss the parking lot option but offered nothing "material" concerning that option. The village, he said, has not provided the school district with a "compelling argument or information" on how the parking lot option would benefit the community economically.

"Therefore, after a year of exploring this concept, we have reached a point where we need to move forward with plans not only for our administration building, but for other capital projects and expenditures that are critical to the effective operation of our schools," Spatz said, reading from the statement.

In a rare move, the school district had set a Jan. 14 deadline for deciding whether to continue talks with the village about the proposed project — a deadline contingent on the village stating publicly where it stood.

The parking lot site drew staunch opposition from neighbors in the area. Spatz acknowledged that opposition at the board meeting.

"We also thank the citizens of Oak Park for the passion and candor they contributed to the discussion about this topic," he said. "While we held opposing viewpoints about various aspects of this possible concept, the feedback we received from residents throughout this process highlighted not only the numerous opportunities that exist for community engagement and involvement, but also the value we place on them."

D97 has other options under consideration for a new headquarters, including becoming a tenant in the proposed Madison-Highlands development or possibly purchasing the 101 Madison high-rise. Spatz said the school district has also inquired about becoming a tenant in a downtown Oak Park property. 

The 101 Madison building is a "low priority," Spatz added, noting that the building carries a large tax bill of roughly $100,000 annually that D97 would have to pick up. D97 is not looking to remain at its 970 Madison building, where district headquarters has been since the 1970s. Spending millions of dollars to upgrade that building, D97 officials maintain, is not cost-effective for the district. 

Spatz said the district hopes to make a decision later this spring concerning a location for its new headquarters.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

2 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Kay  

Posted: January 25th, 2014 11:37 AM

Can D 97 continue its focus on keeping our children...(and adults) cool while attempting to learn and teach in such extreme conditions. Just as we closed school for the extreme cold, we should consider what it is like in the extreme heat. Mind you, some schools did close due to the heat this yr.

CDonovan2  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 5:47 AM

Yeah.

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