Sure, it would have been nice to have an indoor pool at a rebuilt Ridgeland Common. And a gymnasium. And all the other fitness finery that was gathered up with a big red bow in the park district’s “visionary” plan for redoing the village’s central recreation facility at Lake and Ridgeland.

It would also be nice for local taxpayers to be able to afford a couple of hot dogs to go with their Mac and cheese three nights a week if property taxes get any higher in this fabulous but pricey burg.

That’s why we were impressed and relieved last week when the board and staff of the Park District of Oak Park willingly put the $100 million version of a new Ridgeland Common back on the
Land of Make Believe shelf. It was a fabulous plan but not worth bankrupting the town over.

Give us a decent pool, an ice rink that actually keeps the ice cold, and some improved baseball diamonds and we’ll make do nicely.

Locals who don’t believe elected officials listen should pay attention to this ambitious but pragmatic park district. There is a renaissance going on in Oak Park’s parks thanks to the generosity of taxpayers who upped the park’s taxing pull a couple of years back. Local parks were looking the worse for wear. Now, park by park we’re seeing reasonable reinvestments made.

From the start, park officials and observant users have known that Ridgeland would be the big ticket. It is the most intensely used facility with both the pool and the rink. Clearly, too, Ridgeland has suffered from decades of aging and neglect.

We are glad the park district presented three redevelopment options, all of which called for a fresh start and an end to patching. We are gladder still to see a reasonable choice made, the sort of choice that every overstretched taxpayer in
Oak Park is making every day in their homes.

Earning privileges at OPRF

We’ve been impressed since his arrival a year back with Supt. Attila Weninger’s determination to raise expectations for student responsibility at OPRF. At the same time, Weninger has sought to empower a broader range of adults at the high school to call our students to those higher expectations through means other than the formal discipline system.

So we are supportive of the administration’s plan, last minute though it is, to expand the school’s Code of Conduct beyond only athletes and to include every student who participates in an extracurricular activity. Under the code, which each student would sign, they agree to abide by specific expectations related to use of drugs or alcohol, bullying or gang activity, fighting or ethics. If they fail to meet those expectations, the activity supervisor can impose limits on their continued participation. As it should, the consequences can escalate from sitting out of a single game or performance to losing the privilege for an entire season.

Ideally, more time would have been allowed to gather input on this change. Logically there is no reason to wait. We urge the board to back the superintendent on this issue.

Opportunity at dispatch center

We don’t underestimate the challenge of mounting a tri-village police, fire and paramedic dispatch center as Greg Riddle did seven years ago. Now, though, with his plan to retire this fall, officials from
Oak Park, River Forest and Elmwood Park have the chance to solve issues of personnel management and transparency which have clouded the performance of this critical agency.

Fresh eyes are needed.

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