By Dan Haley
Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:
House Hunters, the HGTV show in which young couples defy all odds and actually buy a home, came to Oak Park recently. Did you see it? The traditional move from the upscale city neighborhood to the leafy suburbs (with schools for the cute kids). These two, and I'll only say nice things since they are potential subscribers, looked at one home still in the city and two places in Oak Park. One was a very handsome bungalow, the other a Victorian across the street from Mills Park.
She was shocked, shocked I tell you, that Victorian homes have small, pitiful closets. Poor girl was nearly apoplectic on the subject. But as the drama builds, the Realtor explains that, back in the day, people had fewer clothes, were as teeny as their closets, and that it's even likely the house was built (gasp!) without granite counter tops. And still people lived and loved, made Christmas and gathered around the bed in her new master suite as family members slowly died. Well, actually he just explained the small closets.
Finally in Act III, the couple repairs to the glorious Chicago lakefront to contemplate their future housing options. The three times Mary and I have purchased a home in Oak Park, we have always gone down to the lake, too. We really like the way we look set against that skyline!
Anyhow, we all have new neighbors. They picked the Victorian over by the park, small closets and all. It is a great house. And I'd live on that front porch looking across at the wonderfully remade Mills Park.
Great unveiling at Comcast: Whether you are a fan or foe of the affordable housing project in the old Comcast building on Madison, it is going to be wonderful to watch as workers strip the Dryvit crap off the exterior of that building. The construction fencing went up last week.
Somewhere under all that ugly wrapping there is a very handsome brick car dealership about to be revealed. We can argue all day about the new use, and I'm a fan, but let's enjoy having one of Madison's ugliest buildings restored.
Fair appraisal: A good and responsive decision last week by the District 97 committee studying relocating the administration's offices into a sharing arrangement with the park district. The group will recommend that the school board order a new appraisal of the two D97 properties on Madison Street — the admin building at Home Avenue and the maintenance garage at Scoville. They were last appraised in the rosy days of 2008 at a combined $4 million. And today they would be worth? A whole lot less.
Doesn't mean the schools don't need to move. They do. The admin building is a wreck. But they need viable financial information to make good judgments.
Triple anniversaries: Three of the favorite restaurants on The Avenue are marking birthdays. Winberies is turning 30. Cucina Paradiso is, remarkably, 17 years old. And, the upstart Maya del Sol is just about five.
Low or high?: Middle-school kids drinking or using drugs is never a good thing. And we got some complaints about last week's headline in which we characterized new survey numbers on experimentation and abuse of substances at the middle schools as "low."
Whether 34 percent for eighth-graders and 22 percent for sixth-graders is low or high, it is still seriously problematic. And it feeds into the larger problem among our high school-aged kids.