The Park District of Oak Park has begun the process of formally determining what can and should be done with its three architecturally significant recreation buildings. The rec centers, at Carroll, Andersen and Field Centers, have been the subject of controversy in recent months, as the park district has forged ahead with a wide ranging revamp of its facilities.

Preservationists have complained that the buildings, all of which were designed by noted architect John S. Van Bergen, are historically significant architectural gems which ought to be preserved.

However park officials have cautioned that the buildings have undergone extensive renovation over the years, and may be beyond historical restoration or, in the alternate, being moved.

Carroll Center is at 1125 S. Kenilworth Ave., adjacent to Lincoln School. Andersen Center is at 824 N. Hayes Ave. Field Center is at 935 Woodbine Ave. is adjacent to Mann School.

Park district Executive Director Gary Balling said that responses to invitations to serve on the Recreation Center Historical Stewardship Committee are due back this Friday, March 10.

A review of the three buildings by the Oak Park Historic Preservation Committee was completed in January. That group’s president, Doug Gilbert, will be asked to make a presentation. Others likely to be appointed to the committee or asked to make presentations are Marty Hackl, a noted local preservationist and Van Bergen expert; Jack Barclay, an architect who designed disability access and architectural work on several park district buildings in the past; Frank Lipo, head of the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest; former park board President Tim Kelly, who is an expert in moving old buildings; and John McManus of Altamanu, whose firm is involved in the redesign of Carroll and Field Centers.

Park District Commissioner Tom Philion, who will be the board’s liaison to the committee, said the goal is to develop a workable consensus for dealing with the historic structures.

“I see the committee working toward developing some consensus statements,” he said at last Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Some actions appear to be foreshadowed. The park district looks to be set on relocating the Carroll Center rec center sometime within the next five to 10 years, according to a plan approved recently.

Among the questions the committee will address are whether or not the three buildings have adequate remaining architectural integrity to be restored or moved. The committee will also study the original rationales for placing the three buildings on their respective sites. Balling noted that while the Andersen rec center’s placement still makes sense in terms of its relation to the street, both the Field and Carroll buildings were effected by the closures on streets once fronting their property.

Potential dog park sites to be discussed

The Park District of Oak Park will be holding a public meeting at 7 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, at Field Center, 935 Woodbine Ave., to discuss four potential sites for new dog parks in the village.

Following public input tonight, two meetings will be held the week of April 3 and two more the week of April 10 to gather input from neighbors of the four sites who would be most effected by the potential dog parks.

Join the discussion on social media!