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District 230 Business Services Supt. John Lavelle probed the district’s interest in building a baseball/softball field for special needs students at the Sept. 30 meeting. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

District 230 Business Services Supt. John Lavelle probed the district’s interest in building a baseball/softball field for special needs students at the Sept. 30 meeting. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

SD230 joins discussion on special needs field in Orland

By Jeff Vorva

The Village of Orland Park is not the only government body exploring the possibility of erecting a special-needs baseball/softball field in the village.

Consolidated High School District 230 Assistant Supt. for Business Services John Lavelle brought up the possibility of tag-teaming with Orland School District 135 to provide a field for special-need students and residents in the district.

“It would be an exciting opportunity for special needs students in the community and in the school districts,” he said at the school board’s Sept. 30 meeting. “At this point, we are just talking about it and not taking any action.

“We’re just putting it on the radar.”

The site being considered is the corner of the Willow Grove property behind Meadow Ridge School, 10959 W. 159th St. The plan is for the field to be 185 feet.

Board member Susan Dalton, who oversees the Building and Finance Committee, said it was brought up at one of her meetings.

“We had a lot more questions than answers,” Dalton said. “Everybody seems to add to the list of questions about costs so those were all taken down. We have to decide if this is something that’s feasible or if it will work for all parties involved.

“We will wait and see. Once we get answers, we will share that and see where we are at that point.”

There already is a similar field within district boundaries.

Challengers Field in Tinley Park, built in 2014, was created for individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities. The rubber surface used helps those on crutches, a cane, a walker or a wheelchair to play the baseball or softball safely.

The D230 discussion came 10 days after Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau listed an all-abilities field as a priority among park district projects at a board of trustees meeting.

He said that open spaces near the Humphrey Complex, West Avenue, Schussler Park or Centennial could serve as sites for the park and added he wanted an all-abilities playground next to the park as well.

Pekau had a list of other projects for the village including areas designated for football, building soccer and baseball complexes that can host tournaments. He believes these projects will see the light of day.

“The efforts we have taken over the last four years have put is in a good position to make these much-needed investments in over 30-year-old infrastructure,” he said in a statement in an update email to residents.

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