On March 18, we begin a major renovation of the Park District of Oak Park’s Ridgeland Common, our largest recreation facility in the village. The planned improvements will significantly upgrade the complex that is enjoyed by thousands of Oak Park residents year-round.
We understand that temporarily closing Ridgeland Common — or as we refer to it, taking an intermission — will, unfortunately, inconvenience users during the year of renovation. The park district staff is working with sports and activity groups to provide alternative options during the intermission. For example, the indoor playground at Ridgeland Common will move to Barrie Center beginning March 4, and school and community partners are working with us to provide swim lessons and other programs while Ridgeland Common pool is closed this summer.
You can look forward to a renewed facility with two additional activity rooms, enabling us to expand program offerings; new locker rooms; an expanded sheet of ice to regulation size; and a new synthetic turf sports field with new lights and fencing. The project is designed so we can pursue a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the renovated Ridgeland Common Recreation Complex.
As announced last year, approval to install synthetic turf does require the removal of the Ridgeland Common sled hill. We understand this will be a loss to those who have great memories sledding down the hill on snowy days. That’s why the park district made significant improvements to the Barrie Park sled hill — it is a premier sledding hill in the area. New sod and regrading the hill has increased safety and accessibility. Many residents also enjoy another sledding option on the hill in the newly renovated Taylor Park.
Installing synthetic turf lengthens the sports seasons and increases the use of the fields by teams and individuals in a variety of weather conditions, but it also requires closing the Dog Park Plus hours at Ridgeland Common beginning Aug. 4. We support the advantages of residents exercising their four-legged friends off-leash, so we are working hard to find an alternate location for Dog Park Plus.
These changes will help maximize the use of our parks by a maximum number of residents. The park district staff is committed to helping Oak Park residents live healthier, more active lives, and we look forward to you visiting a park program, facility or green space that make Oak Park a great place to live. I encourage you to follow our progress and transition plans at www.ridgelandcommon.org.
Jan R. Arnold
Executive director, Park District of Oak Park