Community Recreation Center Collaboration
Community Recreation Center Collaboration
A Joint Exploration by the Park District of Oak Park, Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 and River Forest Park District
The Board of Park Commissioners for the Park District of Oak Park and River Forest Park District and the Board of Education for Oak Park River Forest High School District 200 have all approved a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the partnership opportunities for construction of a Community Recreation Center (CRC). This collaboration is in part the result of a feasibility study conducted by the Park District of Oak Park in 2016, which confirmed community support for this type of facility. During the study, the community emphasized the need for the Park District to collaborate with other governmental entities and community organizations. This collaboration is also in part the result of D200’s need to address the replacement of its aging pools and the need expressed by the River Forest community for quality, indoor recreation facilities.
Amenities being considered for the community recreation center include an indoor pool, a multi-use gymnasium with three basketball courts, indoor walking track, fitness center, program and meeting spaces and more.
The concept of a Community Recreation Center is to bring community members together in one location to enjoy a variety of programs, services and facilities. As a community hub, it will serve the recreation needs of Oak Park and River Forest residents of all ages, interests, and abilities. Bringing residents together, whether young or old, helps to forge positive relationships and a stronger sense of community. The following are just a few of the many benefits of a community recreation center:
Increased healthy lifestyle options through year-round access to a walking track, fitness spaces, gymnasiums, pools, and more
Increased access to safe, afterschool, drop-in spaces
Increased access to quality indoor pool space for D200 aquatic team practices
Creative spaces for youth and adults
Increased community meeting and program spaces
Immediately following the completion of the 2016 feasibility study, the Park District of Oak Park completed a pro forma study, which concluded a Community Recreation Center, with specific amenities, could be financially self-sustaining.
Funding models for the construction of the Community Recreation Center are currently being explored as part of the Memorandum of Understanding. The estimated cost of a Community Recreation Center is $38-44 million. The three governmental entities are discussing the possibility of each initially contributing up to $5 million toward the project and raising another $5 million in private contributions. This leaves a balance of more than $20 million to be covered. The Park District of Oak Park does not have funds available, nor bonding capacity to go out for referendum, to cover the remaining costs of construction. One possibility might be for the Park District of Oak Park borrow the remaining costs of construction from District 200. In this potential scenario, the park district would repay these funds to the district over a period of time to be determined. Through this collaboration, it is the intent of all three governmental entities to maximize tax dollars while increasing programs and services to their constituents.
The Park Districts and District 200 welcome additional project collaborators. The Community Mental Health Board has expressed interest in some level of facility usage, and now that the Memorandum of Understanding is signed, further exploration can determine what might be appropriate. It should be noted that during the 2016 Feasibility Study, D200 students expressed a desire to have mental health services be a part of this Community Recreation Center. Therefore, the Collaboration team is keeping this component top of mind when determining how to best service our communities.
Currently, three locations for a community recreation center are being explored. The next step will be to identify the location that best meets the needs of all three entities. The benefits and risks of building a community recreation center will be closely examined by each group. Facility operations and use agreements will be discussed and finance options will continue to be investigated. Community information meetings will be planned for October. We are planning to host three meetings, with one on a weekday, one on a weeknight and one on a weekend to allow full participation. Meetings will be held in both Oak Park and River Forest. Concurrently the Imagine OPRF Work Group is meeting to make long-term facility recommendations to the District 200 Board of Education. Options are expected to be presented in 2018.
The Memorandum of Understanding specifies that the Community Recreation Center Collaboration is aiming for a December 1, 2017, deadline to agree to all the elements necessary for the collaboration to move forward, or the MOU will expire.
The CRC Collaboration Team looks forward in providing up-to-date information on this potential collaboration and the benefits it will provide to both communities. Please check back often for updates.