District 97 approves final plans for new playgrounds at Whittier, Mann, Hatch and Irving schools


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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

The District 97 Board of Education on March 19 unanimously approved the final summer construction plans for new playgrounds at Whittier, Mann, Hatch and Irving.

Parents and PTO members from Irving were in attendance at the regular board meeting last week and applauded the seven-member board following its vote.

The PTO has been working for years to remove Irving's asphalt surface — infamously known as "the blacktop."

Irving will receive extensive work, including a new synthetic turf field. The existing playground will be replaced and relocated. The board last Tuesday also approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Park District of Oak Park concerning the field's usage and maintenance.

The Park District is also contributing financially to the construction project, which is scheduled for this summer.

In all, this summer's construction work totals around $2 million. The Irving schoolyard comes in at around $860,000, not including the purchase of the turf field, on which the district will spend about $117,000.

According to the intergovernmental agreement, the park district will contribute up to a maximum of $200,000 for the project, paid in either a lump sum or installments. The parks will have responsibility over scheduling and maintenance of the field when its not used by Irving students.

D97 and the park district will share any future costs associated with repairing or replacing the field; the synthetic turf has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years.

The field will not have any lights as the D97 board ditched that idea earlier this spring. The school district will also pay for the blacktop's removal and disposal.

Non-Irving students can access the field daily from around 4 to 8 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. till 8 at night. When school isn't in session, available hours are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Irving PTO has raised more than $100,000 for their new schoolyard. Their plan was considerably more ambitious, and expensive, than D97's, but parents are pleased with D97's action nonetheless, according to their reaction at the meeting.

The costs for the Hatch, Mann and Whittier makeovers are $387,000, $408,000 and $420,000 respectively. After this summer, every elementary schoolyard will have received upgrades, including new playgrounds, over the last two years.

Reader Comments

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John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 10th, 2013 5:08 PM

I am glad that there has been no update. He requested privacy and the request should be honored.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: June 10th, 2013 4:36 PM

Wondering: If i recall correctly the man in question was found live and well in one of the forest preserves along the desplaines river. He was fine and asked that his privacy be respected.

Non Green D97  

Posted: June 10th, 2013 3:43 PM

Why are we spending money on the renovations for whittier when the playground is just fine?

Holmes Parent  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 2:28 PM

Were these expenditures budgeted pre or post-referendum? I know a lot of people that would prefer to have the old playground back at Holmes considering the new one is for the under 8 crowd.

Mann parent  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 12:59 PM

The Mann playground being replaced is on the south side of the school at Division and Kenilworth. You are probably confusing that with the playground at Field Park, which is northwest of the school and was recently overhauled. The kids do use that one as well, but the one that is actually at the school is in dire need of renovation.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2013 7:22 AM

Glad that the plans for Irving are moving forward -- a much needed improvement. Does Mann really need an upgrade? That playground seems relatively new and in good shape?

To Brendan   

Posted: March 22nd, 2013 8:46 PM

Yes hatch does have a lot of fruit trees and a beautiful garden. I think it needs mor natural shade (trees) where the children play


Posted: March 20th, 2013 9:04 PM

There is a fruit orchard at Hatch. It was donated by one of the parents but there are a lot of trees. There's also a giant vegetable garden at Hatch. Hatch is a very green school.

Why No Trees Here Where Needed  

Posted: March 20th, 2013 5:13 PM

When will the School District and the Village coordinate getting some trees for shade on the west sides of our middle and elementary schools in OP? We like to think ourselves "Green" but no one is thinking here. The elementary schools have no AC and its criminal that we can't provide shade trees to keep the temperatures down in the classrooms. This is a no-brainer. Put barriers around them until they can stand by themselves. All these new plans but no trees where they're needed most?


Posted: March 20th, 2013 4:31 PM

whatever happened to that guy who went missing? I think he was a big irving parent and pro referendum and new playground wanter. i never saw any update.

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