OL Park district boss ‘hurt’ by mayor’s remarks

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  Kelly said her department cares about seniors
Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury’s latest comments about the status of a new village senior center didn’t sit well with the head of the park district.

  Park District Director Maddie Kelly said she was hurt my remarks Bury made at the May 13 village board meeting that seniors “are getting screwed” as politics get 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 involve the village, a Lutheran church, the park district and an Oak Lawn car dealership.
  “I’m hurt because she’s making it sound like we don’t care about seniors,” Kelly said.
  Quite the opposite is true, Kelly said.
  Seniors routinely gather at several park district facilities to participate in structured activities or to informally socialize, Kelly said.
  “They recreate at our facilities,” said Kelly, who added that seniors gather at the Pavilion, Stony Creek Golf Course, the Racquet Club and the Oak View Center.
  “We have some of the best senior activities,” Kelly said.
  Bury agrees that the park district offers quality senior programming, but she’s looking for a permanent location that the seniors can call home.
  “I’m sorry that Miss Kelly feels hurt, but this isn’t about her feeling or my feeling but about the seniors of Oak Lawn,” Bury said. “If the (park) board doesn’t want to dialog, I respect their wishes. I don’t know what the harm is in discussing it. Adults work out their problems and have conversations.”
  Bury added that not all seniors can take advantage of park district programs. A dedicated senior center, however, would provide a place for all seniors to gather.
  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.

  Park district officials initially seemed open to the plan, but in a Jan. 23 memo to village manager Larry Deetjen, park district attorney Tom Farrell said the park board did not wish to have further discussions with the village concerning the senior center.
  Kelly said the park district supported a proposal to build a senior center at the old Memorial Pool bathhouse. But the district believes the village should foot the bill to refurbish the building.
  “We don’t need another senior center at the park district,” Kelly said.
  Kelly said Trustee Terry Vorderer, a former park district commissioner, was correct in saying that the district does not want to be told what to do with its land or how to spend its money.
  Trustee Robert Streit opposes moving the senior center to Memorial Park because it is not located near the center of the village and access would be difficult for seniors who do not drive.
  He prefers a center near village hall—perhaps built on the vacant Beatty Lumber property—which would give seniors access to the library, public transportation and 95th Street businesses.
  Village seniors currently meet in a temporary location at the former McGugan Junior High.