In January, the District 200 Board of Education approved a motion to build an Olympic-sized swimming pool on the site of the baseball field, but that would happen only if an off-campus site is acquired by the April 23 board meeting to house the baseball team.
Another part of that plan was to locate alternative sites for either the softball or tennis programs, both of which would potentially be uprooted by the pool construction, as second and third priorities by April 23.
While specific locations for the baseball program have yet to be secured, D200 and Oak Park village officials have had very informal preliminary discussions about the location of what could be an alternative site for the school’s displaced tennis team.
The village of Oak Park has offered the school district land adjacent to the village hall to locate tennis courts. Although they haven’t specified any hard dollars, elected officials are optimistic that the plan could be a financial win-win for both the school district and the municipality.
“The concept we discussed is to use the parking lot [on one side] of Oak Park Village Hall as needed space to build a pool on the baseball field,” said school board President John Phelan at a D200 board meeting on March 16.
“This preliminary discussion indicates that this could result in cost savings to the district and village, and at the same time could put attractive recreational facilities in a much-needed area [so people would come] to village hall for purposes other than paying parking tickets.
“We could even make a decision if the board decided to make that move independent of the pool placement, which would stage other changes in the pool building process to minimize disruption to our athletic and P.E. programs were the pool referendum to pass next spring — if we decided to go that route,” Phelan said.
“This needs to work financially for everyone involved,” said Oak Park Trustee Bob Tucker at a village board meeting also held March 16.
Tucker added that the courts would provide the neighborhood with another common amenity, but that neighbors around the proposed site “need to be actively engaged in the process.”
Oak Park President Anan Abu-Taleb said that, if the plan worked, it could possibly increase property values in the area without taking vital property tax revenue off of the rolls.
“We need to make sure our neighbors buy in and participate if it happens,” said Anan. “It’s an investment for the next 50 to 100 years,” he said, noting that, if executed right, the project could be “a win-win situation” for residents.