I was glad to see the article about the Nov. 5 District 97 school board meeting, in which the 75-day period to explore the viability of a new D97 headquarters in the village hall parking lot was announced.
This is an important issue that everyone in Oak Park should know about so they can be involved in the discussion and the decision-making process.
Living less than a block away from the site of this proposed new multi-story office building, my neighbors and I are very concerned about the project, but this is way bigger than just upsetting a few NIMBY South Oak Parkers — this will have ramifications affecting everyone in Oak Park. Lombard Avenue south of village hall is already a racetrack, with speeding cars and emergency police traffic. With at least 20+ kids on our block alone, every parent is rightly worried when our kids have to cross the street. We even had a car drive through our block party last year and luckily no one was injured.
The village hall parking lot is always packed with the overflow ending up on our residential streets. Adding a multi-story office building with numerous employees is only going to make this traffic and congestion worse. Everyone remembers the heat wave at the start of the school year, with kids being kept home or suffering in sweltering classrooms. D97 seems to have a lot of reasons why our kids can't have air conditioning, although their current "outdated" headquarters building manages to have it. You don't have to be a PR genius to see that selling Oak Park citizens on a spanking new office building before our kids have something as basic as AC looks and sounds terrible. As Oak Park taxpayers in a very modest house, the property tax portion of our mortgage payment is almost more than our principal and interest. I'm no math wizard, but no matter what they may say, having lived in Oak Park for 13 years, I'm sure our property taxes will be affected and increased by this project in one way or another.
Now here we are, at the start of a 75-day period to evaluate the viability of a major capital expenditure that neither the village nor D97 has the guts to admit they really want. It's hard to believe spending millions of dollars on a brand new office building is the only way to give D97 acceptable office space. There isn't one appropriate vacant building in all of Oak Park? They can't fix what they already have? If they really want to improve the Madison corridor, why on earth would they suggest building a new building in the parking lot of another building, just feet away from people's homes and not on Madison at all?
If you're concerned about this, I urge you to get involved. Go to the upcoming village and D97 board meetings. Our neighbors have started a group called NO D97 BLDG HERE. Please consider liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NOD97BLDGHERE or signing our petition at www.tinyurl.com/NOD97BLDG. We even have signs you can print for your windows.
Remember, there will be a public forum on Dec. 7 or 14 and there is a Jan. 25 deadline to make a decision on this. With the involvement of as many Oak Park residents as possible, I'm hopeful we can make our voices heard.
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