By Megan Dooley
Leotard-clad youngsters and burly maintenance workers are still fighting for space inside the Hedges Administrative Center at 218 Madison St., where the Park District of Oak Park gymnastics program and its buildings and grounds department continue to operate side-by-side in a space they've long outgrown.
The effort to move one or the other park district use out of the Madison Street headquarters continues though no decision is imminent.
A plan to build a new gymnastics center across the street from the current location went south late last fall. The park district has been weighing the viability of other options ever since.
Park district board member Jessica Bullock confirmed that the former Aldi supermarket at the corner of Lake and Humphrey is on the list. And so is the former Volvo dealership on Madison. Oak Park Volvo relocated to Harlem and Garfield several years ago. Its former Madison Street location is now owned by the village government.
"That's one of the options that we're considering," she said of the Aldi. "It's one of a few."
And of the Volvo dealership: "That's another very viable option. From the park district's perspective it's a very viable option for buildings and grounds," Bullock said, adding that it's not a consideration for the gymnastics program because the ceilings aren't high enough.
The location of the former car dealership, down the street from the park district offices and current building and grounds office would make it a convenient move for the department. However, the site is designated a historic building, which could pose problems if the park district tries to move in.
Park board President Mark Gartland said he can't confirm which locations the park district is interested in, but there are a few possible candidates. "We're looking at several sites in the village," he said. "Our number one priority is finding a place for a new gymnastics center, whether that is moving buildings and grounds out of 218 (Madison) so we can expand gymnastics in there or finding a new place for gymnastics," he said.
Gartland said the park district is just as eager as village residents to get the problem sorted out. "It's something we've been looking to do something about for two and a half years. We've been looking at just about every available site in the village," he said. "We haven't gotten there yet."
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