Oak Park architect and preservation advocate Frank Heitzman has come out against the potential plan to demolish Oak Park Village Hall and build a new one in its place.

While the current structure has an inefficient heating and cooling system, according to the village’s contracted architecture firm, a complete demolition of the building would be far from environmentally friendly, Heitzman wrote in an email sent to Wednesday Journal.

“There is local concern against demolition of buildings because of the fact that the spent embodied energy of the materials would never be recovered through new construction,” he wrote.

Village Hall’s place on the National Register of Historic Places also presents preservation hoops the village would have to jump through should it choose to tear it down. This includes undergoing reviews with federal and state historic preservation agencies should the village seek federal or state funds, permits or licenses, which Heitzman believes likely for a project of this scale. Heitzman authored the building’s nomination for inclusion on the register many years back.

Heitzman offered his own solution to the problem of inadequate police facilities and insufficient space for village staff at village hall

“If anyone asked me, I would propose building an annex building for the police in the lawn area south of the village hall parking lot on the corner of Adams [Street] and Lombard [Avenue],” he wrote.

The basement of village hall could then be reused for the village’s less-public space needs, according to Heitzman.

“Neighbors might complain about the loss of green space, but there could be a solution to that issue,” he wrote. “Give me a day or so.”

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