The Park District of Oak Park Board of Commissioners voiced support for Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory’s (FOPCON) efforts to officially change the name of the Oak Park CTA Blue Line station to the “Oak Park Conservatory” station.
Most el stations are named after whatever street or intersection they happen to serve. Both the Blue Line and Green Line “Oak Park” stations are named after Oak Park Avenue. But there are a few cases where the stations are named after prominent nearby landmarks.
Oak Park Conservatory is located near the Oak Park Blue Line station’s East Avenue entrance, at 615 Garfield St. FOPCON is taking its cue from the CTA Green Line’s Conservatory-Central Park Drive station, arguing that the new name will bring more attention to the village’s own conservatory.
During their Oct. 3 meeting, the park commissioners voiced their support for the idea. The board is expected to approve the resolution of support during its Oct. 24 meeting.
The Conservatory-Central Park Drive station was built in 2001 to encourage more people to visit the Garfield Park Conservatory, at 300 N. Central Park Ave., and Garfield Park’s Golden Dome fieldhouse, at 100 N. Central Park Ave.
The name was a compromise between those who wished to highlight the conservatory and those who wanted the CTA to follow its usual station-naming practices.
There are other precedents for CTA adding place names to official station names in response to community requests. In 1995, Tech-35th station, which was named after Illinois Institute of Technology and the street it served, was renamed “35th-Bronzeville-IIT” to reflect the surrounding neighborhood.
FOPCON board President Heather Guido told the park board that her organization started discussing the idea last spring. In September, the group’s board approved a resolution of support for the park district board to sign.
Board member Mary Kay Minaghan said that if Conservatory-Central Park station is any indication, the renaming would be a boon for the Oak Park Conservatory.
“[We] can realize similar increases in attendance and support for our conservatory,” she said.
Minaghan said she spoke to CTA staff, and there was no set procedures for the transit agency to change station names. However, any change would have to be approved by the Chicago Transit Board.
FOPCON also plans to get letters of support from Oak Park elected officials and business organizations, as well as from West Side aldermen whose wards are located along the Eisenhower Expressway. Minaghan explained that they wanted to do that because Chicago Transit Board’s current chairman, Terry Peterson, used to serve as 17th Ward alderman.
“My goal is for the CTA to pick up the cost,” Minaghan added. “They’re going to get a lot of money [through the Illinois] capital bill.”
Park board president Sandy Lentz said that the name change would help the conservatory.
“There are still people in this town who aren’t aware [of the conservatory] and it would really add to the visibility,” she said.