Tally ho, ho, ho

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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The Oak Park Gymnastics Center will host its grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 5. This 18,670-square-foot facility was built at a total taxpayer expenditure of $5,803,721 (see p. 23 of the Oak Park Park District annual report). Oak Park and River Forest High School has a girls gymnastics program that competes on three levels, freshman, junior varsity and varsity. The boys gymnastics team was disbanded in the late '80s or early '90s. Neither Fenwick nor Trinity High School have gymnastic teams.

There are those in the People's Republic of Oak Park who will complain that a taxpayer outlay of $5,803,721 is obscene and unwarranted, especially when Oak Park residents are already among the highest-taxed residents in "Crook" County. I am not one of those Nattering Nabobs of Negativity. Oak Park has Frank Lloyd Wright and we have Ernest Hemingway. I am confident that the Oak Park Gymnastic Center will produce Oak Park's own version of Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci; it's only a matter of time! Let's see, the 2016 Olympics is too soon to expect that level of success, but the 2020 Olympics are a strong possibility.

I would like the Park District of Oak Park to consider adding a new sports activity, which would be polo. Just think of the exciting new and diverse programs a Polo Team and polo field could produce. Once we Cap the Ike we could use a portion of the newly acquired land for a polo field, barns and a pasture. The costs associated with the polo endeavor are irrelevant as the taxpayers will be footing the bill.

Tally Ho.

Dan Hefner

Oak Park

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OP Transplant  

Posted: September 19th, 2013 10:21 AM

Big, taxpayer-funded projects that benefit only school-age children create a financial disincentive for older and often more affluent residents. This disincentive, coupled with an increase in Sec 8 housing (economic diversity) and a reputation as a community that is difficult to do business in, means serious long-term problems for the village. I get the ideal, but the ideal has to be paid for. Affluent residents and successful businesses are the financial engines of the village.

Adam Smith  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 3:54 PM

I am a fiscal conservative and this is a great project. Built on a blighted site when bond and construction costs were low. Part of long term planning with no increase in taxes. Providing space for a program with perpetual waiting lists. Active kids stay healthier and out of trouble.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 3:11 PM

Speedway, your "but" is incorrect. The PDOP does indeed have the means to pay off the debt/bonds incurred for these projects over time through their capital plan, without an increase in the current tax rate. Even with these projects added, the PDOP is less than 5% of the total property tax bill. Both school districts account for about 70% of our property tax bills. That's where you should direct any angst first. Then the village....

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 1:38 PM

I look and what I see is beautiful for all the projects that the OPPD has afforded our community. The but is coming. We are in a lot of debt as a result. OP did not and does not have the money for all these projects and we now have these rather large debts and that is only the park dist. So what happens to our taxes now. When will we learn that our many trees do not come with money attached. I see so many people planning to leave after their kids finish HS.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 1:33 PM

Hats off the the park district leadership past and present, and staff, who worked diligently over several to address a clear citizen demand, in a way that was cost effective. Well done.

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 1:18 PM

I concur that the price tag was relatively modest compared to other expenditures (Colt building anyone?), the need was certain and great, and the existing structure would have been difficult to re-purpose. An attractive, functional, useful village asset on that strip of Lake was a good use of resources.

Chuck Izzo, MBA from South OP  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 1:17 PM

$5,000,000, zero property tax, was a cost benefit analysis completed? Who's going to be there Monday-Friday, 8am - 4pm. I guess if someone in the government wants built, it'll be built. Do any of the trustees play polo? I like Dan's plan for the IKE.


Posted: September 18th, 2013 1:10 PM

The $5.8M cost of the gymnastics center should be viewed in comparison of the first sentence regarding the OPRF surplus: "Constructing a new pool for Oak Park and River Forest High School will cost roughly $15 to 20 million, according to preliminary estimates from the high school." Can we put the Park District people in charge at the high school?!? Yep, this'll be an interesting referendum to pass!!!

New Gymnastics facility way over due  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 11:58 AM

Have any of you tried to register your kids for the programs at the new gymnastics center? They are already mostly sold out. I think that says a lot since they are able to take 1.5-2 times the number of participants in the past.

Bounce Sports Corporation  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 11:25 AM

Actually, the gynamtics center is innovative and needed in the area (i.e. RF, OP, Riverside etc) and will do well if run properly. Building facilties is an expensive process as we can tell you as we are on 3rd. The cost are in line with cost per square foot as well. Now, the governance question on who picks up the tab is a village/BOD issue. We (and our investors) believe private companies will increasingly fill the gap between public finance and market needs. This is a good idea if execute

John Murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 11:05 AM

Great project - great result.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 10:07 AM

I'm not sure 2 or 3 online comments to WJ constitutes a groundswell of dissatisfaction about the cost of the Scoville project or this one. I attended many of the community meetings, & there was very little, if any, reservation about the cost doing these projects. Citizens were fully informed (if they took a little time to listen) and had ample opportunity to express concern about cost, & no one did. Post facto grousing doesn't constitute informed opinion in my world.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 9:07 AM

Before you complain. remember how people complained about the cost of improvements at Scoville, but now that it's done, we're all enjoying a dramatic improvement in our quality of life. Aren't we? Anyone?

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 8:36 AM

The official name of the new facility is "Gymnastics & Recreation Center", or GRC. While it's clearly focused on gymnastics, there are also two large multi-purpose rooms for other kinds of PD & community programs and uses, i.e. Senior fitness classes, etc. Again, this is an important investment in east OP, & likely will drive further upgrades to local commercial property in the area.


Posted: September 18th, 2013 7:20 AM

Since we can't build bike paths, running trails, golf courses, water parks and the other large recreation facilities other towns have, the least we can do is build the smaller projects like this one. This is great for the gymnastics crowd, but I agree the rest of OP is waiting for their turn. We still lack a lot of the basics.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 18th, 2013 1:27 AM

I for one disagree with you OP Res.545. I do not think this project was worth the money. I believe it is another example of Oak Park trying to be over the top. I for one am tired of all my tax dollars going for just the children of our community. There are plenty of other age group individuals which could use a boost in services that we continually pay for.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park   

Posted: September 17th, 2013 11:00 PM

Actually, Mr Hefner, your childish sarcasm not withstanding, few if any taxpayers viewed this project as "obscene...". Most residents feel, as I do, that this facility was a critical investment in an area of OP that could use an anchor. The purpose of the Gymnastics program is not to produce Olympians, but you know that.

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