I appreciated Wednesday Journal’s article on OPRF’s proposed Project 2 and the attempt to provide perspective from residents both against and in favor of Project 2 [Critics and supporters of OPRF’s $100M project speak up, News, Dec. 7]. There is a lot at stake for the high school and our communities and moving forward will require a true community effort.

Where I differ with the article is the characterization of Project 2 as being solely about a pool rather than describing a more complete and accurate picture of the scope and spaces included, and how improvements will benefit physical education as a whole for every student who attends OPRF.

We all acknowledge that aquatics will be a part of Project 2. That said, there are other equally important and needed improvements also deserving focus. Project 2 provides larger multi-use gyms that can also be competition spaces, replacing current gyms where boundaries extend dangerously close to walls and low ceilings interfere with activities.

The current dance studio with its interior columns and poor flooring will be replaced by a safe and modern multi-purpose dance gym actually suited to its purpose.

In place of a weight room straining with capacity limitations, Project 2’s weight room is large enough to accommodate increased demand from PE and athletics and will greatly improve student experiences. Cramped and inadequate athletic training facilities will be similarly expanded and improved.

If that seems like a lot, there is still more. Outdated boys locker rooms with poor ventilation and infrastructure will be modernized for the 21st century. Girls locker rooms will be renewed with additional space and privacy. All-gender locker rooms will be available for gender non-conforming students.

Critically, there will be an elevator in the new building providing real accessibility for anyone with mobility challenges and correcting a glaring inequity in current facilities.

In summary, distilling Project 2 down to a single component barely scratches the surface of revealing its true impact.

I also wish the writer had questioned more deeply the motivations of the small number of people cited in the article who appear to oppose a pool but who are not so adamantly opposed to other physical education upgrades. We get it, some people don’t want to fix the failing pools and we have heard from them over and over. Why interview them yet again?

Finally, while I understand how the proximity of the high school to Ridgeland Common seems like an opportunity from certain perspectives, the list of needs addressed by Project 2 emphatically underscores why that supposed possibility does not work for OPRF. Project 2 is about addressing a far greater and more significant range of issues than a simple enclosure can solve, not to mention the complication of River Forest tax dollars being directed to a project in Oak Park.

Thank you for your continued coverage of this important project and I look forward to more as District 200 decides how and when to move forward with Project 2.

Peter Ryan is an Oak Park resident.

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