After the first wave of new residential construction began, some residents were concerned about what would become of the neighborhood.
They started asking for an official explanation, and the Oak Lawn City Council voted to move to a new location in the heart of the Oak Grove neighborhood.
In December, the Oak Parks Conservancy, which oversees the Oakville Park neighborhood, announced plans to build a parkland amphitheater and a community centre in the neighborhood, which was home to the Oakwood neighborhood.
The Oak Park Conservancy’s new site is on the site of the former Oakwood Community Centre.
“It’s an important place to live and it’s a place to shop, and it was a good place to grow up,” said Mayor Bill Gorman, who introduced the parkland and community centre.
“Now we’re trying to do what’s right for the city.”
A rendering of the planned community centre and amphitheatre in Oak Park.
But Oak Park Mayor Chris Gorman has defended the city’s decision to move.
“If you want to live in Oakville, you have to have some sort of community centre or park, and we’ve been working on that for years,” he said.
“Oakville is not an easy place to come from.
We’re a very, very, tough city to live.”
Oakwood residents have voiced concerns about the loss of the park and the loss that they said will come from the loss and destruction of the old community centre site.
The community centre was the last of its kind in the neighbourhood, said Oakwood resident Bill Smith, who lives in Oakwood.
“When you go to Oakwood, you can see what’s gone, but you can’t see what was there before.”
He said the loss will be particularly painful because the community centre had been home to many locals for generations.
“You’re going to have to live a lot with that,” he added.
“But you’re going back to your old home and that’s just what I feel.”
The Oakwood community centre is set to be demolished, but the Oak Hills neighbourhood will continue to be a vibrant place, with a wide variety of cultural events, including concerts and art exhibits, Gorman said.
The council has also decided to extend its 10-year lease at the old Oakwood site, which will allow the Oakvale Community Centre and the new Oak Park community centre to occupy the same space.
“I want to be very clear: Oak Park is not going to be the same Oak Park,” he told the council.
“We’re going forward, but Oak Park will be a better place.”
The new Oak Hills community centre will be located on the same site as the old one, with new entrances and exit points.
Gorman says the Oak Forest Community Centre will be able to open its doors in spring 2019.
“The Oak Forest community centre has had a great run for many years and we’re looking forward to welcoming more people to the neighbourhood,” said the council’s director of operations, David Pinto.
“There’s a lot of things we’re going through that we’re proud of and we want to see that continue to continue.”
Residents will be required to leave their homes by 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 5, and return by noon on Wednesday, September 6.
Gormans administration team will hold a community consultation about how to redevelop the site and the community.
The city will also work with the Oak Hill community to identify a new name for the community, said Gorman.
Residents will also have to make a decision about where to relocate.
The new community centre, which is expected to cost $200,000 to build, will include a parking garage, a community garden and an outdoor amphitheatory.
“This is an important piece of the community in Oak Lawn,” said Gorman.
“Residents want to get out of the neighbourhood.”