25 Lake St.

A new building on the site of the former Aldi grocery store could adequately house the Park District of Oak Park’s gymnastics program and allow for expansion in future years, according to the results of a study presented at the park board meeting last Thursday.

The study, done by Williams Architects, led to a consensus to move forward with relocating the program to what will be a new building at 25 Lake St.

If gymnastics is relocated, the district’s Buildings & Grounds Department would be expanded at the park district’s headquarters at 218 Madison St., where both operations are now located. But Buildings & Grounds is still exploring options to acquire about 1,000 square feet of outdoor storage space.

The Lake Street site could accommodate 17,600 square feet for the gymnastics program—about 600 square feet more than what staff has said is the long-term goal.

The main floor would include 9,740 square feet for equipment layout configured by gymnastics manager Jamie Lapke. It also has space for a preschool room, restrooms and reception area that would bring the total space on the main floor to 14,200 square feet, according to the presentation. In case gymnastics participation ever drops, Williams architect Frank Parisi said the first floor could accommodate a regulation-size high school basketball court.

The second floor, with 3,422 square feet of space on the north side of the facility, includes a multi-purpose room, offices and a spectator viewing area. Parisi said classrooms on either floor could be used for party rentals as part of the gymnastics program, or for other classes like karate or yoga.

The Aldi site would also incorporate a parking lot and drop-off area.

At 218 Madison St., there would be room for just over 14,000 square feet of indoor storage space. An option to tear off the roof, replace the bow and truss system and raise the ceiling would cost an extra $900,000, said Matt Ellmann, superintendent of recreation and assistant parks director. The added vertical space could accommodate larger vehicles, like forklifts, Ellmann said. Park district administration would get 8,134 square feet at the same building.

According to presentation slides, about 7,000 square feet of outdoor storage space was configured to fit behind the 25 Lake St. building, though the property is village-owned and includes part of North Boulevard. It’s unknown where another 1,000 square feet of outdoor storage space would be found to get the total amount the district needs.

“We still have a void in our space program,” Ellmann said. “We need to find a way to accommodate that and it’ll be something we continue to explore.”

But board commissioner Paul Aeschleman said he thought it was risky to move forward with the plan because it’s still at a preliminary stage. He noted the projected cost of the whole project is $6.7 million, higher than the range of $5.5 million to $6.5 million given at a meeting in November. The cost figures do not include restructuring the roof at 218 Madison St.

Park District Executive Director Gary Balling said the board will likely vote on authorizing a letter of intent with Williams at its meeting this Thursday. A contract could be authorized at the meeting Feb. 16.

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