Looking ahead to 2014 in La Grange and Oak Park

Oak Park and La Grange will both look a little different by the time the snow melts and trees start to turn green.

Oak Park will have a vast new public space to use at Ridgeland Common, scheduled to reopen in June following a major renovation. By then, a new construction project should be underway at the corner of Lake Street and Forest Avenue, where a residential and commercial tower is scheduled to be built.

La Grange will see a renovated Gordon Park open as soon as weather permits, featuring a splash pad and other new amenities. Renovation projects are also expected to be finished at the village's two train stations.

Here's a look at what might be coming up in the new year.

Restaurant tax decision

The La Grange Village Board is scheduled to decide early in the year whether to start taxing food and drink sold at restaurants.

Village administrators proposed the tax as a way to close a projected budget shortfall without cutting staff or raising other costs. Under the proposal, a 1 percent tax would be added to prepared food and drinks sold at La Grange's "places of eating." Groceries would not be included.

If adopted, the tax would go into effect May 1. La Grange Finance Director Lou Cipparrone has said the tax would bring in about $350,000 in its first year. Two-thirds of the total would likely be paid by nonresidents, Cipparrone estimated.

Lake and Forest project

Developers are scheduled to break ground in May on an $85 million project on the corner of Lake Street and Forest Avenue in Oak Park. Project plans include a 204-foot steel-and-glass building with 270 residential rentals, 25,000-square-feet of commercial space and 588 enclosed parking spaces.

The project, which was proposed as a hotel in 2007, was changed to rental units after the economic recession hit the hotel industry, Village of Oak Park Business Services Manager Loretta Daly has said.

Construction had been scheduled to start in September 2013, but developers sought an extension in order to secure financing. The Oak Park Village Board granted the extension after developers, led by Chicago-based firm Golub & Company, agreed to pay more than $350,000 in delay-related costs.

New LTHS principal starts

Brian Waterman, the principal of Hinsdale South High School, will start work as the next principal of Lyons Township High School in July.

Waterman, 39, will replace retiring Principal David Franson, who has been principal at the school for 10 years.

Lyons Township High School District 204 officials selected Waterman from among a pool of more than 50 applicants. Waterman signed a one-year contract with the district with a salary of $163,120.

Waterman has an active Twitter account, and at Hinsdale uses the social media platform to announce school events and news. He plans to continue the practice at Lyons, he said.

Parks reopening

A renovated and expanded Ridgeland Common in Oak Park is tentatively scheduled to open in June. The $23.2 million project, begun in spring 2013, is expected to enlarge the building from 38,000 square feet to 53,000 square feet. Plans include a regulation-size ice rink that will be open year-round, a turf field, new swimming pool features, new activity rooms, a new locker room, updated lighting and fencing and other features. A small dog park in the facility is also scheduled to reopen in spring.

Gordon Park in La Grange is scheduled to reopen in the spring following a $2.2 million renovation and construction project.