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posted: 9/5/2013 5:30 AM

Glen Ellyn schools, cops eye park district building

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  • Glen Ellyn Park District officials are considering consolidating operations of the Spring Avenue Recreation Center, above, with the Main Street Recreation Center. The village and Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 have expressed interest in the Spring Avenue site.

      Glen Ellyn Park District officials are considering consolidating operations of the Spring Avenue Recreation Center, above, with the Main Street Recreation Center. The village and Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 have expressed interest in the Spring Avenue site.
    Photo by Christopher Placek/cplacek@dailyherald.co

 
 

The Glen Ellyn Park District is looking into whether it should consolidate two of its recreation center buildings -- one of which is being eyed by both the village and local school district as possible solutions to their space constraints.

The park district has hired a consultant to conduct a dual facility study that will determine if operations of the Spring Avenue Recreation Center and the Main Street Recreation Center could be consolidated, and if so, whether one of the buildings should be closed. That would only be feasible, officials say, if the plan achieves cost savings without diminishing recreational services.

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"In an effort to keep the horse before the cart, so to speak, it made sense to look closely at the programming -- both existing at these two facilities as well as brainstorming potential new activities," park board member Gary Mayo said.

In the end, though, Mayo says the future of the two buildings will largely come down to a financial decision.

The park board voted unanimously this week to hire consultants PHN Architects and Heller and Heller for $25,500 to conduct the study.

Their report will identify if either building could be repurposed as something else -- news that the two other governmental agencies in town will be waiting to hear about.

Park district officials have had preliminary conversations with the village and Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 about the possibility of the 11.8-acre site at 185 Spring Ave., being used for either a new police station or school.

"I think all things should be on the table -- whether it's the school district, whether it's the high school, whether it's the village or other potential public partners," said Dave Harris, the park district's executive director.

The village's own space needs analysis identified the Spring Avenue site as one of three potential locations in town for a new police station.

Under one proposal, the existing park building would be demolished and a two-story, 40,900-square-foot structure would be built on the same footprint. It would cost an estimated $16.8 million.

Village officials say the police department, currently located in the Civic Center, is in a space crunch, and relocating it off-site would free up space for other village departments and even make a portion of the Civic Center available for lease by the park district or private businesses.

Village Manager Mark Franz said Wednesday he and other village officials are waiting for the park district to conduct its facility study before having additional conversations, though they remain interested in the Spring Avenue site.

"We continue to explore other alternatives and all ideas are still on the table," Franz said.

Meanwhile, Dist. 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon has also met with park district officials to express the district's interest in "learning more about the property," said Julie Worthen, District 41's spokeswoman.

"We touched base with them and whether or not they have any interest in carrying a conversation forward will remain to be seen," Worthen said.

The Spring Avenue building was constructed in 1962 as Glen Oak Elementary School. It closed in 1978 because of declining enrollment, and the building was leased until it was sold to the DuPage Forest Preserve District in 1982.

The forest preserve sold the building to the park district when it moved into a new headquarters in Wheaton in the late 1990s.

The Main Street Recreation Center was also a Dist. 41 school until it was sold to the park district in 1982.

The Spring Avenue building currently contains space for district administration offices, a boardroom for park board commissioners, a small fitness center, and classroom space for dance and preschool.

The Main Street building also has administrative and recreation offices and a fitness center.

Park Commissioner Melissa Creech said she's looking forward to seeing what the consultants recommend in an effort to determine the future of the two park district properties.

"I'm really excited to see what comes in and what the possibilities are," Creech said. "I think the first step is getting really good data and information and analysis, and then we can talk about what kind of decisions need to be made going forward."

The study is scheduled to be complete by December.

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