A rec center will benefit all

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I am writing in support of the Community Recreation Center (CRC) proposed by the Park District of Oak Park. A 16-year Oak Park resident with kids and an active member in the community, I have served on boards focused on the education and well-being of Oak Park's youth. 

The Oak Park and River Forest park districts are under pressure to offer an indoor pool and OPRF High School District 200 knows if they want public support for a competition-size pool, they will need to make this available to the public. The CRC is a cost-effective solution for creating a facility shared by multiple government agencies. 

As the parent of a swimmer, I fully support this community endeavor to create a place for our team to practice and host meets. Given the space constraints on the OPRF campus, this is the best space we could imagine for our team.

I understand that there is resistance from the FFC as they feel the CRC will take patronage away from their facility. However, FFC is currently building a brand new facility in Elmhurst where the local park district already has a community center, a YMCA, and many smaller fitness boutiques. The CRC can effectively coexist with a for-profit club like the FFC. It appears that FFC realizes that in Elmhurst there are plenty of fitness users at different socio-economic levels who need to be served in that community, not unlike Oak Park and River Forest.

The park district along with the other five Oak Park government entities completed a feasibility study in 2016 for this project. The surveys conducted by an independent third party in both 2010 and 2014 revealed that the needs of the community align with those priorities identified through the 2016 feasibility study: indoor pool, indoor walking track, fitness, basketball courts, arts studios and community meeting spaces. 

The new CRC would:

1) Provide safe spaces for kids after school as well as a place for youth, adults, seniors and families to come together regardless of economic background.

2) Allow community building through recreational and wellness activities that have been identified by the residents.

3) Serve as a multi-generational space for the whole community. 

Studies show that for every dollar spent in after-school programming, $3-$5 are saved in crime costs in the future. With this in mind, providing a free open gym to our youth is an investment in their future and most likely a cost savings to our community.

 I appreciate your consideration of this most important issue in our community. 

Adrienne McMullen

Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Kevin Brubaker  

Posted: November 28th, 2017 5:03 PM

Thank you, Mr. Kline. To be clear, I was not trying to defend the proposed Rec Center, merely questioning what looked like a campaign by outsiders to influence a local decision. Your response reassures me. As to the Rec Center, I'm still undecided.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: November 28th, 2017 1:47 PM

Bruce Kline, the taxes will be paid by the new residents who are moving in the new buildings are paying thousands of dollars which we should be glad the Village president did for the Village of Oak Park. He has and still is working on making Oak Park a smaller version of Chicago

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 28th, 2017 9:24 AM

Mr Brubaker, these guys are our heroes. Someone needs to help stop the madness.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: November 28th, 2017 12:01 AM

To Mr. Brubaker. It is my understanding - after attending the D200 board meeting where representatives of CRAP spoke - that the group consists largely of owners and investors of our local health and fitness clubs such as FFC and the Tennis and Fitness Center of Oak Park. Other private facilities were also represented but I do not recall their names. Whether you agree with CRAP or not, they made a plausible argument that night. Specifically, a large publicly funded recreational center would compete with their business - business who pay taxes ... lots of taxes. For instance, FFC (according to their representative paid over $600K in property tax in 2016). If the new recreational center puts them out of business, who makes up the difference? Well the recreational center - as a public entity - will pay NO property taxes, so we, the already overburdened Oak Park tax payer will once again be the fall guy. Ultimately this enormous boondoggle has the potential to hurt the Oak Park taxpayer as well as the high school it was designed to help. True or not? Not sure. But certainly something to consider before going whole hog for a huge publicly funded (via the "Bank of OPRFHS" no less!) recreational center.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: November 27th, 2017 7:57 PM

WithouWithouWWithoutYes a rec center would be nice. So would divvy bikes, and downtown valet parking. So would collecting money to fund the underfunded village pensions.Without any new rec center, your property taxes will double in the next 5 to 8 years. In 15 years your taxes will triple. Do you want a rec center, or do you really need it?

Kevin Brubaker  

Posted: November 27th, 2017 7:13 PM

I received a mailing against this proposed rec center from a group alleging to be local citizens organized as "CRAP." However, their website is registered to "Perfect Privacy LLC" in Florida and their mailing address is the same as that of a downtown Chicago law firm. Anybody know tho these guys really are?

Tom MacMillan  

Posted: November 21st, 2017 11:00 AM

for the well being of the youth of Oak Park, lets not do this and instead, let the children's families keep the dollars that would otherwise be wasted on tax increases. Studies show that there are already pools in Oak Park.

Bill Kopper from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2017 5:03 PM

A rec center would be nice, but until our competing taxing bodies work together to create a unified set of community priorities, I can think of nothing shorter sighted. Higher priorities 1. Pension payments 2. Fixing the storm sewers so our neighbors east of Ridgeland don't depend on leaves blocking the sewers to keep their basements dry. Unfortunately, pension obligations will require some if not all the taxing bodies to raise their levies just to keep up. So, until we know what we are on the hook for, I will vote against any new buildings.

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