The future of the Oak Lawn Senior Center may get a fresh start in the center of the village.
Mayor Sandra Bury is exploring the possibility of building a new senior center adjacent to the Johnson-Phelps VFW Post 5220, 9514 S. 52nd St., she said at Tuesday night’s village board meeting.
The mayor said she’s participated in initial conversations with VFW officials about the possibility of adding a 1,000 square-foot addition to the facility. The addition would have a separate entrance, but seniors also would use the existing VFW Hall for some of its activities, she said.
“It’s a good location. It’s worth exploring,” Bury said. “It seems to be a very good fit.”
She added that there is good synergy between village seniors and the VFW, which counts many seniors among its members.
Additionally, the VFW holds many of its activities on nights and weekends while the senior center is busy on weekdays. The village owns the “underutilized” parking lot where the addition would be located, Bury said.
“It solidifies (the seniors’) position in the center of our town,” Bury said.
She said the village has gone from “a very exciting vision of the continuation of senior services in Oak Lawn to the continuation of a senior club concept.”
Seniors are excited about the proposal, Bury said.
The senior center currently is located at the former McGugan Junior High School, 5220 West 105th St.
Talk of a senior center at the VFW Hall comes about one month after Bury said seniors were “getting screwed” as politics got in the way of a proposed series of land exchanges and purchases that would lead to the development of a new senior center.
The proposed land exchanges and purchases involved the village, park district, Mancari’s auto dealership, 4630 W. 95th St., and St. Paul Lutheran Church, 4660 W. 94th St.
Under the terms of the proposal, St. Paul would sell a 61,740 square-foot parcel located adjacent to the church to Mancari’s, who would deed the property to the village. The village, in turn, would deed the property to the park district.
Mancari’s would then negotiate with the park district to purchase a 41,862 square-foot parcel located between the dealership and the Oak Lawn Ice Arena. The village would then negotiate with the park district and Mancari’s to secure the funds needed to build the senior center.
The agreement would give the park district additional open space and provide Mancari’s room to expand its landlocked dealership, Bury said.