The township’s senior services are largely tucked out of sight on the upper floors of the Oak Park Arms on Oak Park Avenue. It takes a slow, cramped elevator ride to reach the center, it is not ADA accessible, and it is hard to promote to seniors.
That’s why for a decade the township government has done endless space planning studies seeking a new, more visible, more accessible location. With the lease at the Arms now up for renewal, the township is actively shopping other options. One option, apparently, is a commercial building on the 100 block of South Oak Park Avenue. It is one piece of a failed development at Oak Park Avenue and South Boulevard, which as the boom years ended was imagined as a major retail and condo project. Now the multiple parcels are soon to be in the hands of an out-of-state bank that is happy to sell off the pieces.
While we support the concept of a new senior services center, we object to the possible purchase of a prime piece of commercial space in one of the village’s major shopping areas. The 100 South block of Oak Park is no great shakes today (and, yes, the Journal has been headquartered on the block for nearly 30 years), but this downturn will end and demand for genuine economic development will return. Clogging up this commercial core with an admittedly worthy social service is not the best long-term solution.