Acknowledge the outcome, but also the process

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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What a surprise to find a Viewpoint comment in the Homes section of the Dec. 14 edition of Wednesday Journal [Grove Apartments: The skeptics had it wrong]. Living just a few blocks from the once-controversial Grove Apartments, I simply had to stop and read the update by Perry Vietti.

Back in 2009, when discussions about the Grove Apartments project surfaced, not many could have foreseen that Madison Street might be on the verge of a renaissance less than 10 years later. After all, the development of Madison Street looked a bit stalled during our nation's economic downturn.

Go back and read the hundreds of posted comments associated with the Grove Apartment project. You will see how there is much more dialogue needed in Oak Park about race, economic diversity, stereotypes, transparency, name-calling, villainization, active listening, the right to be heard, empathy, empowerment, helping without motives, respectfully acknowledging the validity (and weaknesses) of different viewpoints, hypocrisy, and a few other factors that gave the Grove Apartments controversy a life of its own. 

Things were complicated by the YMCA SRO transition, the potential impact on student enrollment at Lincoln Elementary, and the controversy surrounding the drug-related death and building code violations at 855 Lake St. 

Completion of the Grove Apartments project merely allowed the strongly expressed feelings to bubble beneath the surface and await the next opportunity. Recent developments of luxury apartments and condos west of Ridgeland Avenue put a slightly different twist on some of these same issues.

Before I forget, congratulations are in order to Interfaith Housing Development Corp., Weese Langley Weese Architects, the Oak Park Housing Authority, Catholic Charities, the Oak Park Village Board of Trustees, and the Oak Park Plan Commission for helping Madison Street move forward. 

The process it took to get here, however, should not be forgotten.

Ken Woods

Oak Park

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