Parks OK Aldi demolition, give nod to architects on design for gymnastics center in Oak Park

Park board approves demolition bid for current building at 25 Lake


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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

Plans for the future park district gymnastics center at 25 Lake St. moved another step forward, Thursday night, as the Park District of Oak Park board gave the go-ahead to architects to continue design work and also approved a demolition bid for the existing structure.

Representatives from Williams Architects and Altamanu, a landscape architecture and urban design firm, showed the board the latest schematic design for the center that will be built on the site of a former Aldi grocery store.

One possibility being considered is a way to foster a link between the gymnastics center and Stevenson Park, which sits just west across Humphrey Avenue. The designers mentioned a Dutch-inspired concept called a woonerf, which might run east and west along North Boulevard and creates a shared space for cars and pedestrians, said John Mac Manus of Altamanu. The woonerf would give pedestrians the right-of-way and allow for four more parking spots in the lot, bringing the total to 22, Mac Manus said. Though it's not in the budget for the project, which is so far expected to cost about $6.7 million, architects will keep working with the idea.

Outside, the entry to the facility would open onto a plaza with space for sculpture and landscaping and a railing on the edges. Frank Parisi of Williams Architects said architects used a design that would create an identity for the area, and could be tied to Ridgeland Common, also on Lake Street, and the Stevenson Center.

Gymnastics manager Jamie Lapke said she got help from a Georgia-based gymnastics vendor to help plan the space where equipment will go. The program currently has 21 pieces of equipment and will need 18 more, she said.

The second floor will have a spectator area looking down to the first floor and two multi-use rooms that can accommodate programs other than gymnastics, if necessary, Parisi said.

Executive Director Gary Balling said he'd schedule a meeting with village officials in the next week or two to discuss the design and other unresolved matters, like possible outdoor storage space behind the building. Williams will continue to develop the design and hopes to start construction on the facility in September.

After the presentation, the board unanimously voted to approve a $30,850 bid from Albrecht Enterprises of Des Plaines for the current building's demolition.

Reader Comments

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Mitch from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 10:02 AM

So-called marginal or second tier sports (like hockey, gymnastics, wrestling, swimming/water polo, etc.) should look to consolidate facilities and resources where they can. It is ridiculous to build a gymnastics-only facility at the same time the high school needs a new aquatic complex - which, btw, can also be used by the public to generate revenue.

ih8idiots2 from oak park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 4:36 PM's called a COMMUNITY. You pay taxes for various COMMUNITY services. I don't have kids at the public schools, but am willing to pay because they help create a COMMUNITY. I don't use the township and rarely use the library, but I like that they're there. The Gym can handle other things in COMMUNITY rooms. The "overtaxed" here have probably been voting for DEMS all have yourself to blame!

bit of an overreach  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 4:10 PM

@Belker, that is a bit of an overreach. You see your kids can go to the high school, even if they are not academically capable. The gymnastics center is only for those that sign up. Try and send your kids there and not paying, over and again on your property taxes and you will be booted out. Let's face it the gymnastics center is for only a few vocal people who want it..and it is too costly for those few to pay for on their own so they put it on the backs of all.

Michael Belker  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 3:53 PM

@"It's unacceptable to ask for others to pay for your private facilities." RIGHT ON! Why do I have to pay for OPRF at all? My kids are in the grammar schools, no the high schools. Outrageous!

Mr. Overtaxed no likely Ms. Spendypants from OP  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 1:34 PM

All of you parents who see the gymnastics and hockey programs as critical, you'd better be there supporting it with your time and money. The second that more in taxes is asked for, I'll be voting (and advocating)to shut them down or sell them to the highest bidder. It's unacceptable to ask for others to pay for your private facilities! Feel free to remind the OPRF Swimming parents of this fact....and ask yourself why the two groups can't collaborate and save tax dollars?

Yeah, no it won't  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 11:33 AM

fiscal responsibility? HA! rebuilding ridgeland for $23 mil is nuts. Particularly when the pool is only getting new gutter system and the tank has 7 years left on it. Tear it all down and put gymnastics center on second floor with precast walls and floor for a fraction of the cost. Stop all projects until we get a new director.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 11:29 AM

"Thanks to solid fiscal management, no new taxes are required to do either facility." I highly doubt this. By the time the checks need to be written, I'd be willing to bet there will be some debt and a raising of taxes involved.


Posted: March 20th, 2012 10:34 AM

As a parent whose kids are in gymnastics, it is a top-notch program. However, as usual, OP overshoots the mark by a wide bit. How about a functional space with a pleasant design rather than the nonsense? A sculpture garden?

DTK from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 10:18 AM

As a hockey parent and purchaser of more than $7,000 of ice every season, there is no comparison. Both the gymnastics center and the new rink will be paid for with capital dollars from the Park District. Neither facility can support the full cost of construction based on revenue alone. The reason hockey is more expensive is the cost of operations for a rink are way higher than a gymnastics center. Thanks to solid fiscal management, no new taxes are required to do either facility.

Yeah, no it won't  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 10:13 AM

it won't make money in the future with a $8 million dollar mortgage on it's budget. Hey you want it, you pay for it. No more $5.00 per hour babysitting charges. Will you still sign up for $1,200.00 like hockey?

OP resident  

Posted: March 20th, 2012 10:00 AM

The gymnastics program is one of the few Park District programs that actually makes money. It also chronically has a waiting list. And no wonder, the staff do a fabulous job of encouraging all kids regardless of their natural ability. They have even started a special olypmics team. Supporting and expanding this program is well worth the effort and dollars.

Yeah, no   

Posted: March 20th, 2012 8:35 AM

I sure hope that the gymnast will pay for this and not the tax payers. This is the dumbest waste of money, other than pope's brick roads spent in OP.

OP Res.   

Posted: March 20th, 2012 7:14 AM

Fantastic idea! What a good use of space. I love that we are combining necessity with culture to create this space! I also like the location... Not many people wonder over there and this could be a great way to bring that area up! Way to go park district!

OP resident  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 6:54 PM

I am a strong supporter of building a new gymnastics center. But OMG - let's focus on the functional need (equipment) and forget the sculpture garden. Even more importantly - cars and pedestrians sharing space!!??!!. Keep in mind many of the kids who use the gymnastics center are too short to be easily visible to drivers - even if they want to give right of way. Cars and kids in the same space is a dangerous idea.

DTK from Oak Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2012 4:04 PM

It will be great to have a top notch facility on the east end of Lake Street bringing people from all over town into the neighborhood. It will present a positive gateway to Oak Park, which Lake Street has been missing.


Posted: March 19th, 2012 11:25 AM

Exciting news for Oak Park. The Oak Park gymnastic Program is a top notch program and will only improve with the new facility. Kudos to all the board members who voted in favor of this. Not only will the people of Oak Park benefit from this, but the surrounding retail economy should benefit as well.

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