By Marty Farmer
Fenwick High School and Triton College are in discussions about a multi-million dollar investment in shared athletic facilities on the community college's River Grove campus. Dominican University is also a party in the discussions according to comments made by a Triton official at a recent public meeting.
If the discussions come to fruition, a football field, stadium facility, full track, lockers and showers and other uses would be incorporated on land on the school's east campus.
A Fenwick spokesperson acknowledged that talks have taken place with Triton, as well as other entities, but said no agreement has been reached.
However, according to League of Women Voters observer reports, at the Feb. 6 meeting of the Triton College board, Chairman Mark Stephens spoke in some detail about an agreement with Fenwick. Stephens reportedly said that an agreement on a $9.7 million investment by Fenwick has been OKd by the school though financing has yet to be secured. According to Stephens, Triton would invest $2 million in the project. Stephens also confirmed a pact with Fenwick at a later League event.
Nancy Bufalino, Fenwick's chief operating officer, issued the following statement regarding the proposed athletic facility partnership with Triton.
"Fenwick continues to seek solutions to meet its athletic needs by exploring available fields and other facilities around the neighboring communities. We have had conversations with officials at Triton and elsewhere about potential solutions but there have been no agreements made at this point. Fenwick will continue to explore available options until the best solution is found."
Fenwick success in athletics has always served as an integral component of the school's tradition. Finding suitable locations to host the Friars' sporting events, however, has called for flexibility considering the high school's landlocked campus at 505 W. Washington Blvd. in Oak Park. Although Fenwick has two gymnasiums, a swimming pool and wrestling room on campus, several sporting events including football, baseball, softball, soccer and tennis among other sports are held off campus.
Currently, Fenwick hosts football games at Morton West High School in Berwyn and (on occasion) at Concordia University in River Forest. Prior to playing games at Morton West, Fenwick held its home football games at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Aside from football, sports such as baseball, softball and soccer as well as practices for several Fenwick teams are currently held at the Dominican Priory in River Forest.
In recent years, Fenwick held extended negotiations with the Village of Forest Park which was considering selling a large portion of a village-owned tract just south of Madison Street. That site, the so-called Altenheim property, would have been used for similar purposes of expanded athletic facilities. Ultimately, no agreement was reached and the village has currently taken the property off the market as it reconsiders its options.
Triton did not return phone calls or respond to emails regarding this matter.