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Wants vs. needs at OPRF

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

July 10th, 2018 12:48 PM

I attended the June 26 meeting in which the Imagine group presented two concepts for a master facilities plan. The Imagine group is absolutely to be commended for its considerable time and efforts over the last 10 months.

Imagine's concepts are ambitious, and they appear to touch every corner of the building. Yet the "orange" and "blue" concepts are essentially the same plan with some components positioned differently from one plan to the other. There are, in fact, many "wants" included in the concepts, at a time when this tax-burdened community is straining under the pressure to simply meet "needs." Even without price tags attached, the total cost of Imagine's plan will be staggering.

When it comes to proposals for a master facilities plan, there cannot be one pre-determined and extreme outcome.

Before more time and money are spent on the Imagine effort, I respectfully request that you, the school board, intercede now and direct the Imagine group and its architects to draw up two other conceptual plans. Imagine's current concepts represent the most expensive, most intrusive and most difficult to build plans. They include a total demolition of the south end of the building and field house along with building a huge pool and seating for 600 spectators.

The second conceptual plan would be moderate in scope and focused heavily on academic needs. It would renovate the south end of the building and field house. This plan would include one standard-size high school competition pool and seating for 300 spectators.

The third conceptual plan would be minimal in scope and include true facility needs only, removing the pools from the school altogether and repurposing those spaces. Ideally, this plan would include a collaborative effort with the Park District of Oak Park to cover the Ridgeland pool, with a retractable cover if financially feasible, to create a year-round, joint-use facility.

These three conceptual plans with their total price tags would then be presented in a straightforward, unbiased manner in Imagine's upcoming phone survey. Only by presenting our community with three clear options will you be able to act in the best interests of all stakeholders. 

Speaking on behalf of many voters, I believe this is the best way forward for you, our students and our community. 

Kitty Conklin

OPRF Pragmatic Solutions