O’Grady proposes using vacant Andrew land for popular Pioneers Football league

O’Grady proposes using vacant Andrew land for popular Pioneers Football league
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O’Grady proposes using vacant Andrew land for popular Pioneers Football league

Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady called on the Village of Orland Park, residents and local leaders to join in supporting a plan to convert land vacated by the Andrew Corporation to be used as fields for the popular Pioneer Football League.

O’Grady noted that after the Andrew Corporation closed its facility at 10500 W. 153rd Street in more than 15 years ago, a housing developer who had planned to develop the land backed out. The land has remained vacant and unused but the consultant had concluded that such a center would be a significant “revenue generator” for the taxpayers.

Orland Park spent $35,000 to conduct a land-use study in September 2018 to build a sports facility that would include a 30-acre playing field to support the local travel Baseball and Football leagues, but no action was ever taken.

Orland Township supervisor Paul O'Grady

Orland Township supervisor Paul O’Grady

“For more than four decades, the Orland Park Pioneers Football, Cheer and Flag organization has been the foundation of the Orland Park football community and very popular with Orland Park families,” O’Grady said.

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“They have been instrumental in teaching thousands of Orland Park children not only the game of football, but the value of teamwork, respect, hard work and sportsmanship, to name just a few character-building traits our children have learned being a part of this outstanding institution.”

O’Grady said he is concerned that despite a public discussion, and money spend on studies, nothing has been decided and the status of the leagues are uncertain.

“For the past few years, there has been a debate on where Pioneer teams should practice and play. For many years, the program has utilized the John Humphry Complex, the only ‘football’ field listed on the village’s website. Alternate field ideas offered by Mayor Pekau, Schussler Park and Centennial Park, have been rejected, first and foremost, for safety issues,” O’Grady said.

“Schussler Park, while a very nice facility, is not equipped to handle the hundreds of children who participate in the Pioneers program every year. Additionally, it is right in the middle of a residential area, which would present traffic and parking nightmares for those residents as well as the busy parents driving their children to and from practices and games.”

O’Grady said that despite Centennial Park being spacious with plenty of parking, it may be too close to the Metra Lot causing potential safety issues for the children and “could be a recipe for disaster” in the event of mixing so any children with motorists anxious to return home after a long day at work.

Orland Park Sports Complex plan for vacant Andrew Land

Orland Park Sports Complex plan for vacant Andrew Land

He said the vacant Andrew Corporation land is the perfect solution. He said plans to develop the property fell through for a variety of reasons including a decline in the housing market and prohibitive development costs.

“That has left the village with an eyesore in the middle of our community,” O’Grady said.

“I urge the village to approach the Andrew Corporation about donating the site, and thereby taking a beneficial tax break, and turn the vacant property into a premier, year-round sports complex.”

O’Grady said funding for the rehabilitation of the land could potentially be acquired through State of Illinois Capitol Improvement grant funds, Park and Recreational Facilities grants, corporate donations and sponsorships, among as long list of grant sources.

“Putting the Andrew Corporation land to this type of use can be beneficial to the Orland Park community in many ways: it can give the Pioneers program a proper and permanent home; it removes an eyesore from our community; it can provide a facility for additional sporting events and youth activities; it can potentially increase revenue through more restaurant and lodging use; it can create more corporate and community partnerships and strengthen the ones already in place,” O’Grady argued.

“Finally, it can put Orland Park on the map as having a premier youth sporting facility, showing our commitment to investing in our children. I urge the village to join me in thinking outside the box and explore this possibility for the Orland Park Pioneers Football Program and for the good of all of Orland Park’s youth.”

Ray Hanania

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