Oak Park approves $8.7M infrastructure plan

New trustees vote in block against Capital Improvement Plan

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park Board of Trustees approved a plan at the Oct. 16 board meeting to spend $8.7 million in 2018 on infrastructure improvements for streets, alleys, technology and other capital improvements in the village.

The Capital Improvement Plan is not yet a green light for spending the funds, but rather a guideline for village staff to begin planning for projects that will take place next year.

The plan was approved by a vote of 4-3, with trustees Simone Boutet, Deno Andrews and Dan Moroney voting against the plan. All three trustees who voted against the proposal argued that the plan includes projects that needed greater scrutiny.

Trustees who supported approving the so-called CIP reminded new trustees that the document, which includes dozens of projects, is for planning purposes only and expenditures could later be stripped from the budget, which is expected to be approved in December.

Members of the board have spent weeks discussing the CIP in committee, and directed Village Manager Cara Pavlicek and staff to cut $1 million from the proposal earlier this month.

The projects removed from the CIP include improvements to the main Oak Park Fire Station, replacement of furniture in village hall, replacement of some street furniture and plans to spend $200,000 to install a new elevator in village hall, among others.

Trustee Bob Tucker told trustees reluctant to approve the plan that rejecting the proposal would be "penny wise and pound foolish" because it gives staff time to plan for road, alley and other vital improvements.

Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said establishing a spending plan now allows village planners to better coordinate infrastructure projects – street repaving for example – with local schools as well as getting request for proposals out sooner to bid. She noted that the village competes with other municipalities in Cook County for contractors and getting bids out sooner results in a better array of bidders.

"They save us a lot of money by doing that," Tucker said.

Trustee Deno Andrews, who has participated in board meetings discussing the CIP over the last several weeks, said he was not comfortable voting on the plan because it includes projects such as the plan to reduce the number of traffic lanes on Madison Street near Oak Park Avenue and bend a section of the road to make way for a proposed large multi-building development. That project is slated to cost roughly $13 million over the next two years, according to the CIP.

"I don't know if I endorse the bend or not or the road diet," he said, adding that voting for the CIP could be seen as an endorsement by constituents.

Trustee Dan Moroney said the village is facing a $6 million increase in the property tax levy and that cutting a million from the CIP was a good start, but more cuts need to happen before he could approve the plan.

Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb reminded trustees that the CIP was just a road map for spending and not a commitment of funds.

Though much of the focus over the proposal was on projects slated for funding in 2018, the CIP is a five-year plan. The cost of most projects in the out years are simply estimates.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Richard Holland  

Posted: October 18th, 2017 10:00 PM

Can someone explain to me why anyone wants to continue to pursue this insane plan. Who is benefitting so much that we can spend 1.3M for a 300k lot, so that the village can hand it as a gift to a private developer who has said in meetings so have attended that they will sell it asap. Why are we enriching private corporations with taxpayer assets? Does anyone believe traffic in Oak Park will get better if we reduce the number of lanes? This plan makes "cap the IKE" look sensible. Not to mention that it will cause considerable harm to the residential areas immediately south of the development with increased traffic, foot traffic, pollution, light and noise. The "will increase tax rolls" argument makes no sense here and is invalid. So either someone is being enriched in ways we are not aware of or Village leadership continues to be in love with the ego boost of new buildings. So much so that they are blinded to the price that will be paid.

Brian Borg from Oak Park  

Posted: October 18th, 2017 5:02 PM

Agree on alleys first! This past storm was the third time this summer my and my neighbors' back yards have been under 8 inches of water from the humped alley. Finally bought a pump to push it to the street. I'd settle for a $1K channel cut in the alley to direct water away in this years budget! Ours isnt even on the schedule years out because it is apparently in "fair" condition!

Jim Egeberg  

Posted: October 18th, 2017 10:00 AM

What? For a town our size we are planning on spending only $8.7 million for improvements?Penny wise pound foolish Trustees.

Robert Milstein from Oak Park  

Posted: October 18th, 2017 9:31 AM

Thank you Deno, Dan and Simone for trying to curtail the plans of the Faux Mayor and VMA leftovers. Here is an idea. Why not focus on alleys and streets but no bends? Why not use your eyeballs and look at the alleys? They are failing. Why not review streets that are going bumpity bumpity to the cars? Yes, infrastructure matters and we use computers to track necessary work, but sometimes a human sees what a program does not. To all citizens start calling the Faux Mayor if your alley, street, sewer...anything...that needs to be repaired, replaced or blown up...ask your friends and neighbors to call...call the Manager...when I say call... I mean stuff the phone message boxes and then email...send letters, post cards...so many they begin to choke on the number...now we need infrastructure repair...but what we need is focus...no approval of any monetary "goal" until the projects are realistic. Here is an idea. Cut the money in half...what can we do with less money. The Faux Mayor and VMA want to build more...every developer must put, depending on development cost, $100K to $1M for Village wide infrastructure...Albion...show us some love!

Alice Wellington  

Posted: October 17th, 2017 5:14 PM

Oh, so they actually approved spending millions of dollars on that ridiculous Madison St. bend?

Barbara Mays from Oak Park   

Posted: October 17th, 2017 4:49 PM

I've been waiting here in South Oak Park 30 years for our awful alley to be paved. I know I'd rather that be the infrastructure the money goes to rather than a bend in the road. I think my neighbors would agree.

Jennifer Malloy Quinlan  

Posted: October 17th, 2017 3:44 PM

I wish I had a new alley. The middle of our alley is higher than our garage, making it rot from the bottom up. That sure effects our home value.

Deborah Wess  

Posted: October 17th, 2017 3:18 PM

Jeff Schroeder, did it help drain better during the weekend's heavy rain? I'd think you'd be able to tell if that was an improvement....

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: October 17th, 2017 3:11 PM

Last year the Village put in a new state of the art alley behind our house, including red brick and drainage features. I am not sure that it will add one cent to our property value, but it sure looks cool!

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