Empty Aldi store makes park district list for Oak Park gymnastics site

Former Volvo space on Madison another possible alternative for parks

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By Megan Dooley

Staff Reporter

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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Posted: March 21st, 2011 9:46 AM

Jeff, the only school within Oak Park that has such facilities is OPRF, and they have their own gymnastics program. It would be unfeasable for the space to be shared by the Park District program, which has programs year-round and needs to be able to expand to accomodate the high demand.


Posted: March 17th, 2011 12:34 PM

The point is that the senior center will provide lunch and programing for the participants with little benefit to surrounding business. Second, don't we have facilities in the schools to house gymnastic programs that the Park district could sponsor? There is TOO much over lap in programing from the different governmental bodies.


Posted: March 16th, 2011 2:04 PM

Jeff, I hate to break the news, but no matter where the Park District or the Township go, they will be off the tax rolls. I guess taxing bodies shouldn't address their own needs??

Jeff from OP  

Posted: March 16th, 2011 1:05 PM

The Township is taking prime retail space on Oak Park Ave. and now the Park District wants a large "Gateway" parcel. What is going on? Give me a break. During this down turn we should not be taking properties off the tax roll.

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