River Forest Public School District 90 is looking down new avenues as it plans for increased future parking capacity at Roosevelt Middle School.
Administrators at the district are currently finalizing a campus renovation plan for Roosevelt, 7560 Oak Ave., which they hope to begin later this year.
Expected to cost up to $1.6 million, the project includes lighting, landscaping and signage improvements outside of Roosevelt, as well as the re-purposing of some vehicle parking areas on the west and north sides of the building, which houses classrooms for grades 5 through 8. The changes would result in a loss of 31 parking spaces at the school.
Last month, the district went before the River Forest village board with a proposal for a new parking layout that sought to compensate their parking losses by installing a row of angled spots along the southern side of Oak Avenue, which borders the south end of the school, and turning the throughway into a permanent one-way heading west. The street currently operates as a two-way street during off-school hours.
The board reviewed and rejected both the angled parking and one-way proposal, forcing the district to go back to the drawing board.
Anthony Cozzi, director of finance and facilities for D90, said the district did not hear a clear resident consensus on the plan.
"There were some residents who hated the 45 and 60 degree spaces, and some who loved these options," he said.
At a community meeting last week, representatives from the district confirmed that the angled parking and one-way proposal was being dropped, and new plans were being formulated to address the parking vacuum at Roosevelt.
The designs, still in draft form, envision 31 on-street, permitted spots assigned to the west side of Jackson Avenue and on three blocks of Oak Avenue between Ashland and Monroe avenues.
Cozzi said the idea — which had been added to the district's presentation at the last minute — had been well received by neighbors at the Feb. 27 meeting.
"We kind of worked the numbers quickly," he said, noting that the plan will need some fine tuning before another parking proposal is brought back to the village board for approval.
The new proposal was largely inspired by Daniel Lauber, an attorney and planning consultant who has kept an eye on the parking dilemma at Roosevelt.
Lauber recently submitted a plan to the district that suggests on-street parking as an alternative to constructing angled spots (which would have cost $190,000) outside of the school as part of the overall renovation.
In addition to indicating the spots on Oak and Jackson, Lauber's plan offered the possibility of creating an additional 22 spots by extending parking along Oak as far as Franklin Avenue to the west and Williams Avenue to the east.
The beauty of the plan, Lauber said, was both its flexibility and frugality.
"It's not expensive to move permit-only signs if a specific location doesn't work out," he said.
In addition to rerouting parking around the school, Lauber said the district should also commit to requiring its faculty and staff to using only the permitted spaces.
"The residents are being asked to give up a fair amount of possible parking spaces for themselves and guests — so it's only fair that school staff use only the permit-only spaces," he said.
D90 serves 1,350 students, kindergarten through eighth grade, at three schools in River Forest.
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