If there’s one issue that’s taken center stage more than any other in the debate surrounding the Roosevelt Middle School exterior project it’s been parking. The question has been at the heart of much of the acrimony over the project. And last Thursday as members of the River Forest Development Review Board began deliberating recommendations to the village board, parking was the central topic. 

Last week’s meeting was the first session in which commissioners had the opportunity to start deliberations on District 90’s application. Most of the commissioners expressed some skepticism over reducing the number of spaces in the North lot from the current 36 to 20 and closing the lot during the school day. A couple commissioners expressed concern over the impact this would have on the library, particularly on parents with young children and also seniors. Other commissioners suggested they were not as concerned with the number of spaces for the library but where those spots should be offered. 

Chairman Frank Martin suggested designating up to 10 of the spaces in the west end of the North lot for temporary parking for library patrons and setting aside the same number of temporary spots in the Lathrop lot for permanent parking for teachers. Martin also suggested that the district open up the student gathering space after school for parking.

District 90 Supt. Ed Condon said those and other suggestions that arose during commissioners’ deliberations will be reviewed by the school board during its next meeting at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 17. Those meetings are usually conducted in the media center at Roosevelt Middle School.

Deliberations and a vote on a DRB recommendation could come during the DRB’s regular meeting at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 19 at village hall. It would be the sixth meeting of the DRB since hearings on the project began last year. 

No matter what occurs, it’s hard to argue with the notion that the village has been dealt a “very bad hand,” as Commissioner Dennis McMahon said with respect to the area around Roosevelt. “This is the worst planned block in the western suburbs and it gives us so few alternatives to deal with,” he said. 

The district’s plan for parking includes: 20 spaces in the North lot; 19 in a Lathrop through lot, which would consist of combining two separate lots and five on Circle Drive off Oak for a total of 44. Ten spots on the north side of Oak between Lathrop and Jackson could be designated teacher parking if an agreement between the village and the school district is approved. That in all would provide 54 spots and meet village code. 

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