Architects will study two options — including construction of a brand-new facility at 25 Lake St. — before the Park District of Oak Park’s board decides whether their gymnastics program or Buildings & Grounds Department will be housed there.
Williams Architects will look at whether it’s cost-effective to demolish the former Aldi grocery store and build a new facility for gymnastics on the site. That option was recommended by Matt Ellmann, superintendent of recreation and assistant parks director, and Williams architect Frank Parisi during a presentation at last Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
“It’s going to be an economic engine for that area,” Ellmann said
If board members prefer that recommendation, Executive Director Gary Balling said a two-story structure could be built in its place at 25 Lake St., creating about 14,650 square feet in total space for gymnastics. That’s more than double the space the program uses now. The district had set 17,000 square feet for the program as a long-term goal.
Rebuilding on the Aldi site would provide adequate space for the gymnastics program and accommodate people on the waiting list. There would also be a safe parking and drop-off area, according to the presentation. It would cost between $5.5 million and $6.5 million to build.
In addition, the recommendation also includes expanding the space for the park district’s Buildings & Grounds Department at 218 Madison St. The district would like to provide 21,900 square feet of indoor and outdoor space for building and grounds department, which has less need for a centralized location.
Williams will also study an option for putting buildings & grounds at 25 Lake St. and keeping gymnastics at 218 Madison St., which is expected to cost between $4.9 million and $5.6 million. The park district has been looking for a solution to the overcrowded gymnastics program for years.
If the board decides to go with that option, the former Aldi store would not be demolished.
Despite the lower cost if the board decides to keep the former Aldi store, Balling said demolition of the current building is more cost-effective than renovation. Gymnastics and possible future programs like dance, cheerleading or martial arts, will generate more revenue.
Park board Commissioner Paul Aeschleman said he wasn’t convinced by the recommendation to demolish the building at 25 Lake St. and thought the other option should be studied as well. He said a comparison of program numbers is needed to determine how many people could be supported at a new facility as opposed to 218 Madison St.
Architects will do validation studies for both options and the board will discuss the issue further at their Committee of the Whole meeting on Nov. 17.