Though it sometimes appears that Oak Park is being inundated ad nauseam by consultant reports, we are encouraged by the fruits of Crandall Arambula's fresh take on downtown Oak Park. Most recently, the consulting firm's recommendation to add three properties to the downtown TIF looks to be the sort of logical idea that might not quickly occur to the average insider.
The 19th Century Club, especially, is a notable building that is badly underutilized and has a legacy that needs to be respected. We would expect incorporating the site into the TIF will put the village in a stronger position to help preserve the club, a far more appealing prospect than seeing the building sold to a condo developer.
Transforming the Certifiedland building into a more obvious retail "anchor" also would bring obvious benefits, especially if it can be done without losing an independent grocery store, the Pancake House and unique retailers like Afri-Ware.
There is also no doubt that the Arts Center/Hemingway Museum on Oak Park Avenue has untapped potential to play a more significant role in the community.
It is worth noting that these properties currently do not create a significant amount of tax revenue for local taxing bodies.
When the TIF is extended beyond 2006?#34;which we support, with some reservations?#34;we look forward to the village using the power behind a TIF to work creatively on projects like these, rather than simply continuing to buy up property and issue RFPs.
Taxing bodies need to battle tax appeals
Taxman Corporation's appeal of its tax bill for River Forest Town Center II is just another indication of a trend that is only going to grow stronger in the coming years?#34;to the detriment of local taxing bodies.
We can't much blame Taxman from seeking the appeal. Not because it's deserved, but because it's becoming accepted business strategy. We would, however, like to see more limitations on tax appeals at the County level.
The current situation simply isn't fair to local taxpayers, so we urge taxing bodies to continue to unite in self-defense and aggressively go on the offensive. And we especially urge village governments to pay careful attention when developers make promises about the amount of tax dollars they expect their projects to generate. It wouldn't hurt to put a preventive proviso or two in the contract or get promises down in writing, as happened with the Oak Park Hospital professional office building.
Good example of dance diplomacy
Every generation adopts its own style of dancing, and the parents of every generation inevitably get outraged by whatever style is in favor. It's a cycle we don't expect to be broken soon, and it's easy to understand both points of view (at least if you're not the parent watching your kid dance).
We're glad we don't have to decide the rules for high school dances. But we would like to say that we respect the way in which Oak Park and River Forest High School has handled its most recent upset?#34;by involving both adults and students in the conversation, and reaching a compromise.