Oak Park, District 97 to host joint meeting on new administration building

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District 97 and Village of Oak Park will host a joint public meeting next month to discuss D97's interest in building a new administration building on Oak Park Village Hall land.

D97 and the village have been in talks about building a new school district headquarters on land presently occupied by the village hall parking lot ever since the Park District of Oak Park backed out of a shared-building proposal with D97 in November 2012. The village hall parking lot was the desired site in that proposal.

The two taxing bodies are eying either Saturday, Dec. 7 or Saturday, Dec. 14 for the public meeting, which will include both boards. The two sides have set a Jan. 15, 2014 deadline to make a decision about moving forward on the project.

"We think that this roughly 75-day period will provide an important opportunity for the staffs of the schools and the village to be able to put together some comprehensive information so the two elected bodies can look at that, discuss it and interact with the community," said Oak Park Village Manager Cara Pavlicek.

 Pavlicek made the formal request to D97 at the school district's Nov. 5 regular meeting. A small "working group" of D97 and village officials met Nov. 1, to hash out details about the project. 

D97 board member Denise Sacks and school board President Bob Spatz are among that group, along with Village President Anan Abu-Taleb, Pavlicek and Oak Park Trustee Bob Tucker. The village's attorney is also part of the group, as well as D97 Supt. Al Roberts, who was not at the Nov. 1 meeting. 

The village and D97 plan to discuss a number of issues related to the administration building, Pavlicek said, including construction impacts to neighbors. The two sides also plan to talk about potential "service partnerships" between D97 and the village, Pavlicek said.

Both D97's and the village's space needs would be discussed, she said.

Oak Park police headquarters is located in the village hall basement, including a section underneath the parking lot. An administration building on the parking lot would impact the police space, Pavlicek noted.

The Madison TIF District will also be discussed at the December meeting, Pavlicek said.

D97 is due a scheduled TIF payment on Nov. 15, but the village wants to defer that payment until after Jan. 15, Pavlicek said, so both sides can discuss broader issues around the Madison TIF. 

"I think beyond the physical issues, we want to ensure that staff can put together information to give you a long-term look at the financial impacts of various alternatives to the Madison TIF and what that does to the property tax levies of all the taxing bodies beyond the village and elementary school district," Pavlicek said.

Still, the idea of building on the parking lot rankles some neighbors in that area. 

Residents Rick Boultinghouse and Amy Williams object to the plan. Speaking at the D97 meeting Tuesday, both accused D97 of moving forward with the plan without getting community input.

"We are 1,000-percent against this project, and we will do everything in our power to let the rest of Oak Park know about it, and mobilizing whatever forces we need to oppose this," Williams said.

The two neighbors also accused D97 of "deception," saying that administration building plan is in the works despite repeated denials by district officials.

Speaking to Wednesday Journal on Wednesday, Spatz reiterated that D97 and village have only had "conceptual" discussions about the project.

"There are no architectural plans or drawings, but we have talked about some general ideas," Spatz said.

He added that the district's new architectural firm, STR Partners, has not been directed to draft any plans for new headquarters. This is in response to a claim made by neighbors that the firm is or has been working on the project.

Spatz said there's some misunderstanding among neighbors about what STR is doing. The firm, which was hired last summer, is currently doing a building capacity study for the schools, Spatz said, as well as an accessibility study at the buildings. STR is also exploring air-conditioning options for the schools.

Concerning the existing administration building at 970 Madison St., Spatz said STR is looking into how much it would cost to renovate the building. 

Reader Comments

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Tired of Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: November 11th, 2013 8:42 AM

If this building costs one dime more than we can sell the existing headquarters for it will create long-term debt for future taxpayers. This is a national sickness that continues to grow.

Resident  

Posted: November 10th, 2013 11:05 PM

There will be plenty of vacant village property if the overnight parking ban is lifted. Who is going to pay the village to park in expensive garages and lots if they can park for free on the streets? Where then will the money come from to maintain the vacant garages and lots? Added to our taxes of course

Anne Bowhay from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 8th, 2013 3:06 PM

The Madison TIF District is supposed to fund improvements along Madison Street. Using TIF funds to close a Madison anchor building in exchange for a new D97 building BEHIND Village Hall -- out of view of Madison -- does nothing to improve Madison Street. If a new Admin Center is going forward, then building on one of the many vacant lots/empty buildings lining Madison makes much more sense. It's also more cost effective than spending $3-$4 million more for a parking facility at/under the Village Hall property.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: November 8th, 2013 11:27 AM

@Bob: OK. iPads were stolen, you say. Fine. How MANY were stolen? WHEN were they stolen? WHERE were they stolen from? And if you're willing to say, HOW do you know this? These are all questions any reporter working a story will ask you.

Amy Williams from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: November 8th, 2013 9:36 AM

For anyone else who is opposed to this, please consider liking our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NOD97BLDGHERE and signing the petition at www.tinyurl.com/NOD97BLDG

Bob from Oak Park  

Posted: November 8th, 2013 7:31 AM

@Bill Dwyer, settle down now. My comment was not to disparage the Journal or any of its reporters. My point was that the district has not made any public comments about the theft, there has been no discussion in an open board meeting (I'm sure all the board members know about it). If you are Al Roberts, do you want the community to know that a the theft of a large number ipads happened while you are attempting to get approval for the purchase of even more ipads?

Want to Stay in Oak Park  

Posted: November 8th, 2013 7:29 AM

Does D97 think that Oak Park property owners are an unlimited source of funding? The district ought to be tightening its belt in anticipation of the teacher's pension funding issues. A new administration building? Really? Let's put this up for referendum!

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 8th, 2013 5:26 AM

A year ago this came to the village board with D97 and the Park Dis. Community input at that time was overwhelmingly negative. Now D97 is pushing this again. I say no to building any more new buildings.

Bill Kopper from Oak Park  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 8:58 PM

This Board has to be the most isolated bunch of folks in OP.The parents & taxpayers don't want a new district building. Period! Your current building is just fine and air conditioned. On a personal note I am offended. I served in the Navy for 13 years in terrible conditions, but was proud to serve and well compensated, not as well as a teacher in Oak Park, but enough. Go into industry if you want nice stuff. Be a public servant if you want to see your achievements in the success of the kids.

Bill Dwyer   

Posted: November 7th, 2013 8:04 PM

@ "bob from oak park" and "Ipads stolen?" To the question of "Why didn't the Wednesday Journal report the theft?" I'm presuming, as someone who reported on crime in the WJ for 6 1/2 years, it's because there was no mention oof the theft in the OPPD summary. Because I know for damn sure I would have jumped on it, as would Jean Lotus. So, "Bob": You're the one saying "the district doesn't want you to know that." If what YOU say is true, why didn't YOU tip the Wednesday Journal or Oak Leaves?

Seen it all before  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 4:58 PM

Ugh. The bundling of this with a TIF discussion is big red flag to me that a tit-for-tat deal is in the works similar to the one that resulted in the continuing financial catastrophe that is the OPRF parking structure. Looks like OP taxpayers will be paying for that even as the OPRF brazenly tears it down to building their new pool. When will we learn that in OP, such intergovernmental agreements only mean a funding shell game to extract more funds from taxpayers with no accountability?

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 4:19 PM

And didn't Spatz at the Sept or Oct board meeting say that they had no plan in mind for a new building? Sounds like there has been lots of planning for one since. Just say "no" to another referendum - I know I will.

Ipads stolen?  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 4:01 PM

Also, if the district can't keep the iPads safe in their own possession, how the hell do they think my 9 year old is going to defend herself from armed robbery? Thanks for making each and every kid in our district a walking target of crime, Mr. Roberts.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 4:00 PM

I am against building a new building for D97. I think it is a waste of money. I can see it now, build it and then ask for another referendum for more money for D97. This has been a single minded goal for the D97 admin. for some time now. Don't let them do it.

Ipads stolen?  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 3:57 PM

How many ipads were stolen? Was it reported to the police? Why didn't the Wednesday Journal report the theft? Why is the WJ always so rah rah with wasting our tax dollars on stupid stuff Roberts wants (fast forword, ipads for every kid, a new building), without ever following up on massive failures in D97?

clancy  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 3:45 PM

Name of the Facebook page is: Oak Park D97: Fix Our Schools First

clancy  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 3:41 PM

Well, I plan to go and be very vocal about this being a terrible idea. There is a Facebook page dedicated to those in opposition. I urge you to join it. Let's stop wasting taxpayer dollars on unnecessary digs that will ruin a neighborhood. The children will not benefit from this.

Curious One from Oak Park   

Posted: November 7th, 2013 3:15 PM

How is putting an administrative building within the village hall parking lot a good idea? Of all the vacant locations within OP that may be used; this idea is just absurd. The parking lot is too small right now to accomodate the employees of village hall, the fleet of the police department and fleet from Village Hall. Employees end up parking in front of a residents house; much to the dismay of the resident. The area would be congested even more if this project were to go through.

bob from oak park  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 2:23 PM

The district doesn't use the ipads because they were stolen out of the central office this summer. But the district doesn't want you to know that.

HisDadness  

Posted: November 7th, 2013 1:01 PM

Teachers and school administrators are public servants. They don't need extravagant surroundings. Use what you have and be happy about it. Much like the iPads that aren't used, this is yet another D97 want. D97 and the cabal of thieves who support them need to learn the difference between wants and needs. And as to the threat that we might lose capable administrators, where else are these incompetent boobs going to go and make the money they do in Oak Park?

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