Oak Park park board revisits price tag for Ridgeland Common

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By Megan Dooley

Staff Reporter

After more than four years of research and planning, a recent community survey has inspired the Park District of Oak Park Board of Commissioners to revisit cost estimates for plans to renovate or rebuild the recreational buildings at Ridgeland Common.

The 2010 survey showed that 60 percent of respondents support a plan to repair and maintain the current building, while 40 percent of respondents called for the construction of a new facility with an outdoor swimming pool and indoor ice arena.

But the board said cost estimates for the projects are now outdated and must be redone before the board moves forward with plans to repair or rebuild.

"I don't think we can make any real decisions until we get hard costs," said Commissioner Christine Graves at a meeting of the park board last Thursday night. "I know we've kind of got squishy figures, but we want to make sure the money we spend is not going down into a black hole of constant repair."

"We came up with what we wanted," said board President Mark Gartland, of the survey results. "I think we need to start now with what we can afford. I guess that's part of the discussion we should go into now."

Executive Director Gary Balling asked that a board member consider sitting down with him and other staff members for that discussion. "Most of our information is now a year and a half, two years old," he said.

But Balling said he thinks he knows where the discussion will end. "I think ultimately the recommendation is going to be ... that we really need to look at a new Ridgeland Common," he said.

Graves said that despite the results of the survey, repairing the building might not be the most financially sound route. "It might actually cost more than tearing it down and starting new," she said.

Commissioner Jessica Bullock thinks something needs to be done in the next year, but no option should be discounted. "Sixty percent recommended renovating. We can't in good faith ignore that," she said. "I think we need to keep both options on the table."

Bullock agreed to continue the discussion with Balling at a later date.

Reader Comments

5 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

OP  

Posted: March 21st, 2011 10:05 AM

Repairing the existing facility won't work. The band aid approaches are failing, causing more problems. There are constant electrical, plumbing/pool, and rink related issues. The only viable solution to all of these problems was the visionary plan. It would have not only given a new state-of-the-art facility, but met the high demand with the pools (outdoor and indoor year round) and rink (year round), plus added new spaces and features craved by residents (i.e. weight room, etc).

Jason Malley  

Posted: March 10th, 2011 12:06 PM

Can someone please investigate a Public/Private deal for Ridgeland? For example: Give Lifetime Fitness a 100 year land lease on the whole property, sorry dog people and baseball, everything, and have them include state of the art facilities including pool and year round ice rink, underground parking and let them build a multistory building. Charge Oak Parker's a reasonable monthly fee and charge anyone else who wants to join going rate. Don't ask for a referendum and don't do a remuddling

Oak Park Resident who uses nicer facilities  

Posted: March 9th, 2011 4:48 PM

However in the mean people use other facilities ie franklin park for skating, tristar for gymnastics, forest park for swimming because we have a sub sub standard facility. From someone who use to use that facility, it needs to be rebuilt. Full time ice arena and or multi use facility. No need for two pools in Oak Park anymore. Ridgeland is only open sparingly anymore anyway.

Tad Wefel  

Posted: March 9th, 2011 4:04 PM

Why do Village leaders continuously talk on these issues like the Village is flush with cash? This idea of "it will cost more to keep it going" argument is seems to be the default position. Ridgeland Commons, Lake-Forest Garage, S. Marion. This ain't 2006 people. The real estate market, particularly residential, is getting worse. Who knocks down a house because the roof keeps leaking?

OP Resident  

Posted: March 9th, 2011 1:16 PM

I keep asking but get no answers. Whether it's District 97, OP-RF High or Village Hall; nobody's talking. Consultant & "no-bid" contracts have to be costing OP residents a fortune. Does anyone know how much the Park District has spent on four years of research and planning? It cannot have been cheap. The Park District's not flush with cash, so has it been careful how funds are doled out? If we spent a million or so on studying an issue; can that info be shared with the folks footing the bill?

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