Oak Park study highlights shared facility advantages
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:32AM
OAK PARK — According to a village study released last week, consolidating the administrative operations of Oak Park District 97 and the Park District of Oak Park would yield the following benefits:
• Reduce cost and save tax dollars: District 97 already was poised to sink $1.5 million, and the park district was prepared to spend $2 million, on renovations for their respective facilities. Not only would the move save money, the respective properties where each are housed could be sold to raise money, and their tax exemptions could be lifted so the properties become tax revenue generators. “These buildings could be packaged in a way that could jump start economic development,” District 97 Superintendent Albert G. Roberts said.
• Resident convenience: Each government entity would be located on one campus rather than spread out across the village, providing one-stop shopping for taxpayers. “It becomes a nexus. People know where to come to get a problem solved,” Park Commissioner Christine Graves said.
• Collaboration of government bodies: District 97 and park district officials said they routinely collaborate on a variety of programs and services. Being closer, they said, would allow a more consistent flow of ideas. “The relationship building roles of government is one of the things we tend to dismiss,” District 97 Board President Peter Barber said.
• Share space and resources: District 97 officials say they have more space than they need.
• Improve traffic flow and reduce congestion: Graves said traffic on Madison Street has steadily dropped to about half of what it was in 1998.
• Environmentally responsible: A new combined facility would reduce the combined footprints of District 97 and the park district by 11,064 square feet, a net reduction of 209 square feet per employee. Graves said a new structure would provide better sustainability and take advantage of energy efficiency and green technologies.