Let my people swim (redux)

Opinion: Columns

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By Mary Kay O'Grady

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If they can fit two pools in that space on Scoville Avenue, don't tell me the new creative thinkers in charge can't add a smaller warm-water pool to take advantage of all the other infrastructure that will be needed. 

Don't make me start with you if you don't see the need for a warm-water swimming pool in a town of over 52,000 people, a good percentage of them seniors. You either understand that there are a lot of older people in Oak Park — and they pay taxes, many for 30-50 years — or you don't. 

So I'm loving the idea being floated by the village and the high school about building the high school's new pool(s) on the piece of property on Lake Street between the sparkling new Ridgeland Common, its adjoining playing fields, and the high school's sports field. The plan would close Scoville Avenue between Lake and the underpass, thus creating a sports campus, if you will, running for several blocks on Lake from Ridgeland to East Avenue. (Imagine if they also removed the high school's eyesore parking lot and you could see the grounds of one of the last beautiful high school campuses, historic stadium and all, right across the street.)

It's a large undertaking, but if all the parties involved want it — school districts, village and park district — we can do it. It appears that the money is there, for which, hooray.

Permit me to pre-empt the whining about parking: It's not as if we live in an outlying suburb that used to be farmland; this is a small city, and there will never be enough parking. Leave early or walk. Anyway, maybe it's time to try free public trolleys again, say up and down Lake Street between Ridgeland and Oak Park avenues.

It's great to see how well Ridgeland Common turned out. If the pool project is a go, maybe it will be time for a bit of rezoning to get a few eating and drinking places nearby. Certainly a sports equipment store should prosper.

Meanwhile those of us who live on the west side of town are getting ready to, uh, welcome the three buildings that will boost the tax base that supports the nice stuff. 

Hell, maybe they'll be all glass with nice setbacks and waterfalls.

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