Oak Park village hall

The Park District of Oak Park will get a total of $2 million from the Village of Oak Park’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act. Half that amount had already been allocated to the park district last spring, but another $1 million was promised at the village board’s Nov. 29 meeting.

 The village board will have to take an official vote on the request at a later meeting, but the vote will merely be a formality; the village board was widely in favor of granting the park district’s request.

“You’ve demonstrated a need here that I think is clear,” said Trustee Jim Taglia.

The second $1 million will go toward the renovation of Andersen and Barrie Parks.  The former, on Division Street at Hayes Avenue, draws a very racially diverse group of visitors, according to Park District Executive Director Jan Arnold. Construction on Andersen Park was completed in 2006, while Barrie Park, on South Lombard Avenue, was last renovated in 2005.

While sharing his support for the request, Trustee Chibuike Enyia gave a shout out to his former park district basketball and floor hockey coach.

“He would have loved this,” Enyia said.

The village board allocated $1 million back in March to replenish lost revenue for the park district’s capital improvement plan. At the time, the park district had requested $2 million to be dispersed over two years. The village board essentially required the park district to break up the request into two parts, with the second to be discussed as a part of the next round of community ARPA requests.

The Village of Oak Park has already distributed $20.3 million of its $38.9 million in federal ARPA funds. The majority of the allocations have gone to the village government for sustainability and racial equity investments, as well as to replace revenue lost due to COVID-19.

As a special district, the park district itself was not eligible to receive ARPA money directly from the federal government, which requires the park district to request a share of what was allotted to the village. The park district’s requests were viewed by Village President Vicki Scaman as an opportunity for positive collaboration between taxing bodies.

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