Park District of Oak Park Community Recreation Center on Tuesday May 23, 2023 | Todd A. Bannor

The opening of the Oak Park Park District’s Community Recreation Center on Madison Street this spring was the culmination of more than three years of planning and a collaboration between the Good Heart, Work Smart Foundation and the Park District, with input from community stakeholders. Park District Executive Director Jan Arnold calls the Park District Board “the little engine that could,” as she praises their foresight and vision in bringing access to healthy activities to the entire community.

The CRC offers a year-round indoor walking track to residents at no cost; a safe place for youth of all ages to go after school; teen programming on weekends and evenings; sport courts; community meeting rooms and affordable fitness opportunities and group classes. Arnold says individual memberships will cost $25 a month with parents able to access 90 minutes of childcare per visit for a $15 monthly fee.

In addition, the net-zero building will create all of the building energy itself. For Arnold the ribbon cutting in May was just the start of something to celebrate. She notes “We called our campaign ‘A Place to Belong,’ and the lessons of the pandemic showed us how important it is to access healthy activities and to able to socialize and engage with the community. We are thrilled to get this space open.”

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