Community Members Offer Their Own Facilities Ideas For D209

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Thomas Jefferson Woods, on the east side of Proviso East’s campus. | Google Earth 

Amid the public dialogue about the future of Proviso Math and Science Academy, some attendees at the May 15 master facilities plan community engagement session also presented some explicit facilities-related ideas and concerns.

Robert Cox, a 1972 graduate of Proviso East and Forest Park resident, presented the 2018 Proviso Lab Initiative — a project Cox started in October. Cox said the initiative was the product of “six teachers, a couple of administrators and a Cook County Forest Preserve representative” engaging in a plan to transform the eastern border of Proviso East.

The Thomas Jefferson Woods constitutes a shared border between East and Cook County. Cox and other stakeholders want to see that area transformed into an “open and sustainable boys and girls cross country trail” that would be meet IHSA requirements and be used by multiple school sports and PE courses, as well as by community members.

Cox said the initiative also envisions a transformation of the wooded space that’s similar to public improvement projects in places like New York City — where government, nonprofit officials and other stakeholders collaborated to transform a 1.45-mile piece of defunct elevated rail track into a linear park, greenway and trail.

Cox added that the initiative could also include the construction of a building for Proviso students dedicated to science, technology, engineering, art and technology (STEAM) programs.

Hillside resident Roger Romanelli, a 1985 Proviso West graduate, said he’d like to see the district install a bike repair shop in all three schools, along with indoor bicycling facilities. He said he’d also like the district to look into solar panels, wind turbines, biomass and other reusable, alternative energy sources.

“There’s a lot of green space at all of the schools,” Romanelli said. “I’d like to see potential arboretums.”

Romanelli added that there’s currently no way for interested residents to find out the district’s basic capital needs — such as air conditioning (which neither East nor West currently has, he said), roofing repairs and other upgrades. He also said the district should consider adding more detailed narratives about certain aspects of the facilities master plan process.

He pointed out that the civic group he leads, called Hillside Forward, will be hosting meetings about the facilities master plan process, among other education and community related issues, throughout the summer. VFP 

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