Last week, the Oak Park and River Forest High School board unanimously approved spending just over $17.3 million to build a new 8-lane, 400-meter track and new fields on the school’s campus, among various other athletic improvements. The board approved offers totaling $17,335,486, down slightly from a previous estimate of $17.6 million. The OPRF will use the reserve funds to finance the project.
The cost reduction is due to an overhaul of the architect’s fee after District 200 board member Fred Arkin complained at the November 3 Committee of the Whole meeting about rising costs for the project, initially estimated at around $12 million.
“I almost feel like we got screwed on a juice loan because every time I come back the price goes up,” a frustrated Arkin said Nov. 3.
The district’s architectural firm, FGMA, has agreed to cap its fees for the athletics design work at $750,000 and $250,000 for the design work for the installation of a heating and cooling system. geothermal cooling under the fields, saving the OPRF $272,226. The scope of the project also expanded, resulting in additional costs of nearly $1.8 million, including $303,000 for stormwater retention.
The OPRF does not currently have a competition-sized outdoor running track. For the past two decades, it has used Concordia University’s track at River Forest for track and field practices and meets, but Concordia ends the track-sharing agreement at the end of the track season. of this year.
The package approved last week includes a new 400-meter track located west of the school, just north of Oak Park Stadium, where the baseball and softball fields are currently located. The varsity baseball field will cross Lake Street and replace the current multi-purpose fields with a small running track all around. This track will be eliminated. The varsity softball field will be east of Oak Park’s Ridgeland Common Park District baseball field. The baseball and softball fields will also be used for other sports, especially in the fall.
The stands around the new track will have a capacity of 300 seats. The new track’s field will be used for field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, cheering, drill team, Special Olympics, and football, although college football games will still be play. at Oak Park Stadium. The new athletics track will also be used for physical education classes. Community members will be able to use the new track.
Lights will be added to the recently rebuilt tennis courts at a cost of $181,200. Security cameras will be installed to monitor the Lake Street and Ridgeland Common fields as well as the tennis courts and west fields at a cost of $291,400, which includes the installation of a fiber optic cable to the fields.
Arkin and school board chairman Tom Cofsky expressed reservations about the need for the security cameras, but voted to approve the package. The council could still decide to reduce the scope of the project.
“I would like to reduce the things that are not a necessity,” Cofsky said before finally voting yes.
Board member Sara Dixon Spivy enthusiastically voted yes.
“I’m super excited,” Spivy said after voting to approve the project.
New 60-foot-tall netting will be installed on the Lake Street courts at a cost of $368,000 to prevent balls from going all the way to Lake Street. The poles to support the netting account for most of this cost. Administrators said the existing netting needs to be replaced anyway.
The project will eliminate the need for just over $2.9 million in maintenance work over the next 10 years, bringing the net cost of the project to approximately $14.4 million.
The new track will also save the approximately $80,000 annual cost of transporting athletes to the Concordia track for practices.
Pepper Construction will oversee the project, which will be completed next summer.