Even as Oak Park starts what we hope is an open-minded process to figure out the best, most innovative and fiscally responsible options for remaking the decrepit police station hidden in the cellar over at village hall, today we report on plans to update portions of the South Fire Station. That facility, on East Avenue at the Ike, opened 59 years ago and remains basically unchanged since.
That is how Oak Park’s village government rolls. No one has been wasting taxpayer money on fancy upgrades. Instead the model is to run things to ground and then fix them. Possibly not the best strategy. It didn’t work for Oak Park’s alleys either and reclaiming the worst of them has been an expensive retool over recent years.
The fire house, mid-century modern it would be labeled these days, has been allotted $150,000 in capital improvement funds by the village. It will be used to remake the one-third of the station which houses bathrooms, sleeping quarters and a work-out facility. The single large bathroom/locker room will be broken up into three gender neutral bathrooms to afford both privacy and also allow for the hoped for return of female firefighters/paramedics. The department’s last woman retired in 2017.
Here’s hoping the next improvements to the fire station come before 2079.