Bowling For Development Dollars

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By John Hubbuch

Yesterday's paper headlined that VOP has $8 million to lure new bidnesses to come to town. Now staff has been hard at work deciding what businesses we need. Their recommendations include a bowling alley,microbrewery, medical services, satellite college campuses, grocery stores and smaller models of big box retailers like Home Depot. We'll call them little box stores. 

I'm probably in the minority but I don't think we really need any new stores. We've got lots of restaurants and a cool movie theater. I exercise at the YMCA. I grocery shop at Pan's. I don't really mind driving 20 minutes or so once a month or so to go to Oakbrook or Yorktown. In fact I kind of like getting out of Oak Park from time to time.                                            

What interests me though is just how the Village staff came up with these recommendations. Did they survey the citizenry? If so why wasn't anyone I know surveyed? Did the staff talk to the private developers? Did we talk to some consultants? How do you decide that the Village needs a BOWLING ALLEY? Do staff members like to bowl?  I never thought of Oak Park as a bowling kind of town.                                 

Are these proposed businesses just a wish list? Why would a university open a satellite campus here given the close proximity of Triton, UIC, Concordia and Dominican. We probably could use a grocery store. Too bad the Certified on Lake is a parking lot and The Villager is a doggie hotel. The quest for a Target reminds me of Ponce De Leon's search  for the Fountain of Youth.                    

I don't know hardly anything about developing businesses in a difficult economic climate. I wish the Village would just sell these properties to private developers ,and let the market place sort out the best uses consistent with zoning. Then maybe we could  put this TIF money to better use. I appreciate that there may be some legal impediments, but surely Don Harmon could intercede with Mr. Madigan.                                                          

Just one more thing. Rumor has it that Oprah's favorite childhood doll has been found in a trunk in her mom's attic, and that Oprah and her doll will be reunited on her show sometime next week. 

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