t's not every parking garage that can meet every need. Luckily for Downtown Oak Park, the Holley Court parking garage is magical. No matter what Oak Park builds, no matter how many parking spaces it commits to other users, there is always room for one more car at Holley Court.
Just last week the village swapped a pathetic little isthmus of land owned by the current operators of the old Marshall Field's building on Lake Street for a guarantee that the Field's building can perpetually rent up to 100 daytime spaces in the Holley Court garage.
Now that is a good deal for the Field's owners because they have some three floors of empty office space gaping away above Borders. No one with a brain will rent it unless parking is available conveniently. Now it is. In Holley Court.
Admittedly, the village along with Whiteco are about to expand the garage by a hearty 450 spaces. But do the math. A hundred of those spaces just went to the Marshall Field building. Two hundred will be reserved for Whiteco residents. Something like 150 spaces will be netted. Until you consider that the Whiteco development and the now bulldozed lot next to Chipotle Grill had about 130 spaces combined. Now the net is 20 spaces. And that doesn't include the lack of spaces included in the new retail/residential/Multiplex Gym already under construction on Lake Street. Oh, and it also doesn't face the reality that a developer owns the Bank One parking lot on Marion Street and certainly has no plans to use it for surface parking.
Now, over the years, we've supported development. We've avoided dire predictions of parking and traffic gridlock. But now we're predicting it. If current development plans move ahead, there will be parking gridlock in Downtown Oak Park.
Admittedly, we're not traffic consultants though we've seen our share parade before the Plan Commission with their charts and their models. And the Whiteco traffic consultant says that based on who will use the garage during "peak" and "off-peak" hours, how many and what color cars will be around, or whatever other variables they crank into the model, that there will be 182 surplus parking spots on weekdays and some 600 spaces free on weekends.
We respectfully say, "nonsense."
It is past time to unfurl the plan for the added parking garage on North Boulevard. Starting construction tomorrow can't be too soon.
Sharing police praise
When there is a success so notable as the New Year's Eve arrest of a suspect in an attempted rape in Forest Park and two others on the city's North Side, there's plenty of praise to go around. So it was a week ago as policing officials from Forest Park, Oak Park and Chicago gathered to tell the story of the capture of Paul Cruikshank.
The praise is deserved. The common effort across the boundary of Harlem Avenue is a true success and, perhaps, the most telling example of the improving and deepening relationship between police in Forest Park and Oak Park.