Top Oak Brook stories of 2012
:Polo returned to Oak Brook in 2012. Here, Douglas Giebel and Jack Murphy head back out for the second half of an Aug. 19 match at the Oak Brook Polo Grounds. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
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- Oak Brook polo a go for August
- Oak Brook to go ahead with residential committee, seeks grant
- Oak Brook sets special meeting to discuss sale of Sports Core land to school district
- Oak Brook residents call for more information on property sale for school
- Oakbrook Terrace moves closer to red-light cameras
- District 53, teachers reach accord
Updated: February 25, 2013 2:20AM
OAK BROOK — Action at the Sports Core frequented the headlines in Oak Brook this year. Months after polo returned to the village-owned grounds, talk began of building a new school on the property. The year also saw a new contract for teachers at Butler District 53 schools and a move toward red-light cameras in Oakbrook Terrace.
1. Polo returned to Oak Brook
After budget cuts caused games to be cancelled in 2009, polo returned to the village-owned Sports Core in 2012. Matches were played Aug. 19, Aug. 26, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9 on the polo field north of 31st Street.
Village officials and residents had hoped for polo to return earlier, but Salt Creek’s floods caused heavy damage to the fields. In October 2011, the Village Board authorized spending $15,000 to repair the flood damage in anticipation of hosting polo matches in 2012.
“We had a great spring, and it healed itself really well,” said Sports Core Director Trey Van Dyke. “Several of the players who came out had played here previously.”
Prior to the first match, the village and event organizer promoted the contests through the launch of a website and filming of commercials.
Willow Harbor Vineyards and Polo Club owner Kevin Kelleher also launched Facebook and Twitter accounts to keep fans informed.
“We went to the matches as kids every Sunday and socialized with (Paul Butler’s) family,” Kelleher said. “We want to preserve polo like it was in its heyday. To us, Oak Brook is polo and polo is Oak Brook.”
2. Butler Elementary District 53 wants to build new school
The Butler Elementary District 53 Board is interested in purchasing about 8 acres of the 285-acre Sports Core to use as a site for a new kindergarten to eighth-grade school.
The district houses students at Butler Junior High and Brook Forest Elementary. The board is interested in selling those properties.
Meetings on the plans held by both the district and one by the village regarding sale of Sports Core property drew huge crowds with divergent opinions on the matter.
A decision on whether to proceed is expected in January.
3. Butler teachers settle contract after long dispute
After some difficult negotiations, the Butler Elementary District 53 School Board and the Oak Brook Education Association teachers’ union agreed on a new contract in February.
Wage increases were the biggest obstacle to reaching an agreement; the new contact calls for increases of 2.3, 2,8, and 3.3 percent, respectively, in each year of the three-year deal.
Negotiations went on for more than a year in an attempt to forge a new contract after the previous agreement ended July 31, 2011.
4. Oakbrook Terrace gives green light to with red-light cameras
The Oakbrook Terrace City Council took a big step in September toward having red-light cameras installed at Route 83 and 22nd Street.
Against objections from the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce and the Oak Brook Village Board, the Oakbrook Terrace City Council unanimously approved a contract with a Chicago company that handles the installation and maintenance of red- light cameras. The council also adopted an ordinance that would allow for installation of the red-light cameras and for administrative adjudications of red-light violations.
The plan includes cameras for southbound traffic on Route 83 and for eastbound traffic on 22nd Street.
Required approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation is still pending.
5. Village forms committee in hopes of attracting young families
Oak Brook created an Ad Hoc Residential Enhancement Committee during the summer in an effort to entice younger families to move into the village.
The committee also is seeking ways to fill vacant homes and to revitalize and enhance Oak Brook’s residential properties.
The committee was created because recent census data indicates that Oak Brook’s population has an older average age than neighboring towns, said Village Manager David Niemeyer. The median age of Oak Brook’s population for the 2010 census was 55.