What a concept. Last Thursday at the school board meeting at Oak Park and River Forest High School, representatives of the school and the park districts from both towns reported they are now in discussions on the possibility of building and then sharing an indoor swimming pool and recreation center.
This was a great idea 10 years ago when the Park District of Oak Park begged the high school to come to the table to talk about working together to replace what all parties knew, or should have known, were obsolete pools at both the school and at neighboring Ridgeland Common. The schools gave the collaborative concept a very cold shoulder. The park district went on to remake Ridgeland Common to great effect and at considerable cost to taxpayers.
The high school went on to five years of denial about their pools, followed by the five most recent years of torturing taxpayers with its indecision, poor planning and lack of will in making a decision or making its case for a pool to taxpayers.
So is this a fresh start? A reach by the Oak Park parks to bring other pools of taxpayer funds to build a community center they have long considered a priority? Will River Foresters really ante up to build this pool and rec center in Oak Park? Are either of the two other potential sites in River Forest? What would it cost OPRF to build the on-campus pools they say are an additional necessity for PE? What would it cost to remake the remake of Ridgeland Common? What’s the math when the parks say such a facility could be a profit center? How does this planning process conflict or complement the critical Imagine OPRF super committee currently at work on pool and broader facilities issues?
But it’s good that our taxing bodies are talking. The OPRF board seems eager to explore options. Consider us dubious until many, many questions on finances and logistics of use are publicly reported.