Redo the library lobby? Are you kidding?

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Dear Ms. Brennan, Mr. Sokol, and the rest of the library and village board members:

I have to say, I thought I was reading The Onion when I saw the Wednesday Journal headline, "Oak Park Library lobby may be redone."


The subhead was even funnier: "Plan to make area more welcoming and upgrade self-checkout software."

It was not so funny when I read what this folly is expected to cost — just a measly $300,000.

As an Oak Park taxpayer since 2000, a frequent library user, and a level-headed citizen, I have to say I am outraged. Have people completely taken leave of their senses? Does no one recognize that we have a perfectly lovely, welcoming library? In fact, just days ago, the library received the highly-coveted 5-star rating in Library Journal's Index of Public Library Service and was awarded the Chicago Building Congress Merit Award for Best New Construction - Suburbs for the year 2003, for "distinctive design, outstanding construction and a positive impact on the surrounding community."

Such an unwelcoming embarrassment to the community — Not.

Does no one on the library and village boards understand that outrageous, unrelenting property taxes are a major issue for all the citizens who love this community and want to stay here? Does no one on these boards realize that their job is to represent the people of Oak Park and be responsible stewards of the community's finances instead of reckless spendthrifts? Does no one realize that we have all taken a beating throughout the recession/depression with job losses, pay decreases, furlough days and more, and to read something like this is an absolute slap in the face to all the people who sacrifice to pay their taxes here?

I think if you were to put this to a vote, you would see that very few (if any) Oak Park taxpayers would think this is a priority. What's going to be next on the agenda? Redoing the redone Marion Street? Come on, people — get a grip on reality.

Amy Williams

Oak Park

Reader Comments

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OP Transplant  

Posted: December 11th, 2012 5:30 PM

Lucy - You're being condescending. I know, of course, that the homeless men at the library are human beings. I don't have anything against them. I just don't want them, or any other human beings, naked in a public bathroom in a public building frequented by children. I believe that mine is a reasonable attitude. No amount of lobby redecoration is going to solve the problem of people, homeless or not, behaving inappropriately in a public space.

Arrrrrrrr Matey from Oak Park  

Posted: December 11th, 2012 11:34 AM

You know the taxes are too high when rich liberals start complaining about them!

Steve from Oak Park  

Posted: December 11th, 2012 11:12 AM

I have to agree with the homeless at the library. I thought we pay high taxes in Oak Park so the people could ride the green line and take advantage of our services and steal our shopping carts, and gutters and bikes and beg us for money and shower in our library and hang out at the harlem el stop and scare our children. Why not make the library a place that they can go and mumble to themselves and sleep against the walls so I can t even use the automated book returns. Put the bums to work

Rich Schurr from Oak Park  

Posted: December 10th, 2012 11:17 PM

Amy - thank you for saying what many are thinking. The response from the library board was appalling and dripping with arrogance. I never cease to be amazed what people will do when they spend other people's money.

Lucy Bates  

Posted: December 10th, 2012 7:30 PM

Well, let's eliminate the harsh language. I agree that the library shouldn't be a locker room, but the guys that hang out there are still human beings, as tough as it is to understand. Everybody's gotta be somewhere, Let's skip the "redo" of the library, by all means and save the $300K, but drop the enthusiastic bashing of the homeless. Ask not for who the bell tolls, and all that.

OP Transplant  

Posted: December 10th, 2012 4:26 PM

While Mr. Jackson's language is harsh, there's some merit to what he says. As I've posted elsewhere, I once walked in on a naked guy in the 2nd floor restroom (well, he had on socks.) People send their children into those restrooms. The sight was far less welcoming, aesthetically pleasing, and child-friendly than the current lobby, making it, in my eyes, a bigger problem.

Lucy Bates  

Posted: December 10th, 2012 3:46 PM

Can we allow John Jackson to get a gun from the local gun shoppe and let him KILL the honmeless that bother him so? I bet he would do it for far less than $300K. I envision him as Quint from Jaws. Poor and mentally ill people are a scourage and unpleasant to look at. He would do it for us, I bet! If not him, many others here would volunteer.

John Jackson from Oak Park  

Posted: December 10th, 2012 2:10 PM

I like the idea of a library redo - anything to keep the homeless more comfortable. Perhaps we should consider adding a shower and a cigarette machine or maybe even some fold out cots. I really think it adds a nice touch to see those bums in front of the library. We the new park redo have feature to aid the homeless? Maybe a begging station?

Mary Rodrigo from Oak Park  

Posted: December 10th, 2012 1:10 PM

Go Amy! It's a relief to see that someone else in this community is awake and responsive. I'm okay with a minimal redo of the Oak Park library lobby but not to the tune of $300,000. It seems that a lot of community officials believe the citizens of Oak Park have written a blank check. I say, you need to stick with a budget. If the budget is that large, thought should be given to reduce it. You are spending beyond our means. Why can't you get it?

Loathes Library's Lounge Levy  

Posted: December 10th, 2012 10:40 AM

Sounds like the library café was someone's failed vanity project that we are now paying big money to redo with someone else's vanity project ?" all courtesy of a hefty 6.5% library tax levy increase this year. How about fewer lattes and lounges and more books for our tax dollar?

Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: December 9th, 2012 10:45 AM

A few years ago, the library had the opportunity to partner with PADS and Buzz Cafe to keep the library cafe open while at the same time providing on the job training for qualified unemployed individuals active in job preparedness programming. After proceeding with discussions for a number of months, the library board made an about-face because of budgetary constraints. Confusing. It is not a public library's mission to help prevent homelessness but they missed a meaningful opportunity.

Blank Check from Oak Park  

Posted: December 6th, 2012 7:56 PM

Ms. Williams, I fear your call to fiscal sanity will fall on deaf ears. The trustees live in an air-conditioned bubble, and write every check on the backs of property owners as if taking deep drinks from a bottomless well. This particular guilded lily is a drop in the bucket.

Brian from Oak Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2012 9:23 AM

Wonderfully said Amy. There is a time for making wish list improvements. But, when people, including businesses are living day-to-day hoping to get work or keep work, now is not the time. The same for the Park District and schools.

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