Based on the turnout last Saturday, there is now considerable interest among locals in the planning of a new swimming school at Oak Park and River Forest High School. About 150 people were at the school last weekend to hear about and then discuss the four options for a new pool that the high school board put on the table.
Two more presentations were scheduled for early this week and we presume drew added interest.
We’ll wait for the school to compile the comments from the small group roundtables and also to tote up the straw poll numbers from the participants.
It seems we’ll also await an unfortunate fifth option which one or two sitting board members are still developing on the sidelines and in secret. Given how botched this long, long pool planning process has been, adding intrigue or any suggestion of a lack of transparency seems like a seriously dumb idea. Either this rogue plan surfaces very soon and is sheer brilliance or it needs to be abandoned.
It is notable to us that none of the plans involve the ongoing discussions led by the Park District of Oak Park to consider building a new community center with an indoor pool. But then the park district has only been trying to interest OPRF in a collaborative pool effort for about 15 years.
At this point we don’t have a plan of choice. We know the current pools are past obsolete and need to be replaced. We know OPRF needs to invest in a pool facility that allows swimming instruction plus competition in swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swim. There needs to be adequate capacity for some use of the pool by the community. Finally, we know that simply knocking down the 300-car parking garage and dropping a pool on the site is, for many good reasons, a non-starter.
The high school deserves to be dipped in the deep end of an overly-chlorinated pool for all the many ways it has bolloxed this process over so many, many years, across so many boards and administrations. But at the risk of having a petition drive launched against us, we’d note this screwed-up effort has never been done in secret. The stumbling has all been in public and the efforts, while sometimes misguided, have been sincere.
And let’s remember that the only good thing about a process is when it comes to a positive end in a fixed amount of time.