In a performance the equal of the bad old days on Oak Park’s village board, the school board at OPRF last week finally, exhaustedly, made a decision on where to plant the new swimming pool at the high school. As you read on, remember that we fully support the costly necessity of a new pool on campus.

But a school board that had been performing well in recent years — prioritizing, listening, discussing, deciding — fell into the bad habits of past village boards with endless process, special committees, special interests, Sturm und Drang, meetings past midnight, and then, eventually, with its fever breaking, a difficult, imperfect, though rational choice from the original fixed list of options.

We’re not sure entirely where this process spun out and then sputtered. But it has got something to do with parents with superstar athletes. You can pick the sport: tennis, baseball, softball, swimming. None could be disturbed, shifted or moved from their historic spots on the cramped Lake Street campus.

And so, with the days winding down to a precious few for this incarnation of the OPRF school board — a newly reconstituted board will take office this week — the pressure to decide something overrode any other worry and the board voted, unanimously, no less, to demolish the only parking garage on campus and to construct the new pool on that spot.

We get that there was no perfect solution. Tennis courts atop a new natatorium. Tennis courts at village hall. Softball at Triton. Anything in Maywood. But blowing up the parking garage is also not consequence-free. 

The upside for Oak Park taxpayers is that village hall will finally be free of the financial albatross of the parking garage it built, maintained and operated for over a decade with hardly a nickel of income. Chalk that one up on the list of Top Five bad money choices in memory.

The downside is that nearly 300 cars, mainly belonging to faculty and staff, will be disbursed back out onto the side streets of heavily taxed citizens who had enjoyed having a place to park their cars during all of this young century. That the school says no plan for this has yet been developed and the village said it is open to ideas suggests this is going to be free-for-all. More fun ahead.

This school board made the right decision to make a decision here. And the incoming school board ought to take out the hand wipes and declare its hands clean, and/or tied, by the soon-to-be past board’s choice. It is time to move forward.

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