If you've never noticed the now much-debated "Hoppe Building," don't feel bad. It's that squat, brick condo building on Harlem Avenue, just north of Border's. Yes, the one that looks like hundreds of other Oak Park apartment or condo buildings.
Some are now ascribing architectural significance to it, saying it brings small town charm to dirty, ugly Harlem Avenue, and shelters a virtual wildlife preserve of innocent rabbits and squirrels, too.
After a presentation given by a group of residents, the Historic Preservation Commission now wants to hold a hearing on it, to consider it as a potential Oak Park landmark.
But what's also notable about the building?#34;and undoubtedly driving the motives of some would-be preservationists?#34;is that it's sitting squarely on the site of our controversial 14-story friend. It's set to be demolished shortly to make way for Whiteco, which is still winding its way through Plan Commission hearings.
Historic preservation is a real issue in Oak Park, one well deserving of attention from the community and village officials alike. But it shouldn't be abused for political purposes.
A building should be saved because it is worth saving (and this one is not), not because it conveniently blocks the path of a disliked development.
A lot of people are crying about saving various buildings around downtown, and the fact is, downtown does have its share of ugly, obsolete buildings.
For anyone to continue to respect historic preservation concerns, those concerns have to be genuine.
Our village's history shouldn't be a pawn in Oak Park's ever more twisted development game.
Keep an open mind at Maze
Speaking of historic buildings, though, we are pleased to hear about the changes contemplated at the E.E. Roberts designed Maze Library.
New computers and just plain clutter have reduced much of the charm of the beloved upstairs reading area. Constructing a sensitive addition off the back of this building will enhance the historic quality of this building, not detract from it.
We're pleased that the library is actively seeking input from residents. This is an important building, but one in need of expansion.
We encourage everyone involved to be open minded.
Cleanup the legal mess
It's not surprising that a park district lawsuit has been thrown into the mix of the mess at Barrie Park (though it threw us a little off guard that it came this late in the game).
We're not sure what's holding up the paperwork that needs to go to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. But it seems to us that the various parties involved in the cleanup have overcome more than paperwork in the past.
So we hope that ComEd will, for once, resolve an issue promptly. The last thing this never-ending project needs is to become mired in a protracted legal battle.