In Oak Park and River Forest, it seems there are three guarantees: Death, taxes, and some (not all) neighbors opposing outdoor improvements at OPRF High School. In the last five years alone, neighbors have mounted protests, including at least one lawsuit, against the following:

1) Lake Street Field acquisition

2) Lake Street Field lights

3) Stadium renovation

4) Stadium scoreboard

5) Parking garage

All of these, in our view, are wonderful amenities that have brought much-needed facilities to the school and community. But in each case, some neighbors were fearful of the consequences to their quality of life. Now that the above-mentioned improvements have been in place for several years, we wonder if the feared results have actually come to pass. Neighbors, from all that we have read, you seem to love your neighborhood, and we are not aware of people moving out to escape the high school. Realtors tell us that your property values have risen, right along with the rest of ours. If the changes at the high school are truly unacceptable, you have the option to sell, take a profit, and move to another part of town. But you haven’t, which leads us to believe that despite the presence of the high school, life in your neighborhood is still pretty much what it always was.

With regard to stadium lights, we sympathize with your concerns, and we agree that OPRFHS should do everything in its power to be a good neighbor. But we also sincerely believe that, as in the past, the effects of stadium lights will be far less onerous than you predict. We admire the attitude of the Elmwood Avenue residents, who believe that, like the Farmers’ Market, the benefits of the stadium lights will outweigh any negatives.

The truth is, those who choose to buy homes near large schools must be prepared to live with the realities of the situation. One of those realities is that growth and change is inevitable. We know this firsthand, because we chose to buy a house directly across the street from Roosevelt Middle School in River Forest. And yes, we put up with increased litter, traffic and noise as a result. And if Roosevelt needs to expand one day, for the benefit of its students, we won’t protest. Why? Because we signed up for this! Just as you did, when you bought your house near the high school.

Stadium lights are a reasonable usage for a high school such as OPRF. If the Lake Street field, renovated stadium and parking garage have not ruined your life, neither will the lights.

Alison Nelson and Scott Hargadon
River Forest

Join the discussion on social media!