Developing programs for Oak Lawn seniors is the park district’s bailiwick, not the village’s expertise.
That’s the opinion of Oak Lawn Mayor Sandy Bury, who would like the park district to assume control of senior services after many years in the village’s hands.
“We’re not really good at programs for seniors, we’re just not,” Bury said. “It really does not fall into the domain of the village. What we do best is not organize bingo.”
Village and park district officials are in preliminary discussions about a plan that would transfer control of senior services to the park district as well as transforming a park district building into a senior center.
Cost savings is the not the primary driver behind the plan, Village Manager Larry Deetjen said.
“We think we can elevate the service,” Deetjen said.
Park district director Maddie Kelly fully supports the idea.
“We are very senior friendly,” Kelly said. “All of our facilities are senior centers at some point in the day.”
Seniors make up more than 25 percent of the patrons at Stony Creek Golf Course, the Community Pavilion and the Racquet and Fitness Center, Kelly said. They also participate in a numerous programs throughout the year.
Kelly agreed that park district is well-equipped to take on senior services.
“I do think we would be better at programming for them,” she said. “There are seniors all over our parks.”
The park district would offer more than additional programming for seniors if the plan is approved, Kelly said.
Preliminary plans call for a senior center to be built at the old bath house at Memorial Park, 102nd Street and Major Avenue.
The pool was a closed a few years ago. The park is being renovated to include a splash pad, new paths and landscaping around the pond.
“We would be happy to offer that up,” Kelly said. “It would be a perfect location. We think it would be a perfect spot.”
The village is reviewing the costs associated with renovating the bath house, Deetjen said.
“I’m sure we will end up with a better senior center,” he said.
Memorial Park renovations, which also include the installation of a new rocket slide, are scheduled for completion in the spring.
The park district also would hire additional staff to run a senior center and programming, Kelly said.
Kelly said the proposal is in the village’s hands and the park board has not yet acted on the plan.