The OPRF school board has voted to tear down their 300-car parking garage to make room for a new $40 million, Olympic-size swimming pool. Built only about 10 years ago, the garage is fully used by teachers and staff daily during the 10-month school year. It is also used extensively by parents and spectators at the school’s athletic events (such as football, basketball, swim meets, track meets, etc.), Farmers Market patrons, and users and spectators of the Ridgeland Common pool, softball and soccer facilities.
The school is not planning to replace the 300 lost spaces and has suggested that teachers and others park on the streets between Ridgeland, Oak Park, Pleasant and Chicago. This will be a huge inconvenience for the school’s employees and a total disregard for the neighbor’s ability to park in front of their homes.
Apparently, the village technically owns the parking garage, which is primarily used by the school so OPRF has passed their problem on to the Village Transportation Commission, which had a meeting last Monday. They invited comments, but the commission had no plans, so there was nothing to comment on.
In reality, it seemed like they really hadn’t given the situation much thought even though the letter sent to the immediate neighbors said this would be their only opportunity to comment prior to a recommendation being sent to the village board on Nov. 9. The commission indicated that was not a hard date after the many neighbors who attended voiced their opposition.
One solution offered was that the new OPRF pool be located on the roof of the parking garage. The additional cost would be only a fraction of the cost of the new pool. In addition, there would be savings in that the garage would not have to be razed and OPRF would not need to pay the village under some unexplained Intergovernmental Agreement. This would best utilize the scarce land near the school and minimize disruption to the neighbors, Farmers Market, Ridgeland Common users and, most importantly, OPRF teachers and staff.
Nobody else could build in the village without providing adequate parking. To remove 300 cars from an already under-parked area is just plain wrong, and should not be allowed.