The Oak Park and River Forest High School Board met the morning of Nov. 9 at the school board room for a Finance Committee Meeting to discuss a variety of issues, including improvements to the mall.

According to Jack Lanenga, assistant superintendent for operations, the estimated cost for improving the mall and its landscaping has been whittled down to $850,000, a figure that once topped $1 million. The original hope was to keep the project down to $600,000, and Lanenga still believes that number is attainable.

The plan includes a number of possible changes, including narrowing the road to one lane to restrict vehicle traffic for safety and aesthetic purposes, adding more trees (which cost $500 each), repairing the outside clock, and building a pavilion for $25,000.

Adding a concession stand was originally part of the plan, but that was found to be too expensive. The addition of bathrooms to the mall is still a possibility; however it would come at a steep cost at around $150,000. Funds for the project come from the capital outlay fund.

Board member John Rigas stressed that the mall project needs to keep perspective.

“It’s not Millennium Park, and we don’t want it to become Millennium Park because that only went three times over budget,” Rigas said.

Lanenga also said that he believed it would be better to work on the project with a construction company supervising it, rather than an architect firm.


Cheryl Witham, the school’s chief financial officer, went over the school’s five-year financial projections.

Nothing has changed on the 2006 Preliminary Levy, with the board choosing to make a decision in December.

Construction updates for the high school were discussed.

No progress has been made, but investigations continue into the $16 million shortfall in the township treasurer’s account.

The school bookstore is working to keep inventories low, allow students to get their books in one trip, and send unused books to Africa.

Village President David Pope made an appearance at a special board meeting to give a presentation on community-wide planning, which he has presented to all taxing bodies in Oak Park, asking other boards for their thoughts and ideas.

The agenda and minutes for the meeting can be found at

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