I realize there are grave challenges facing the world, the nation and Oak Park. This is not one of them. However, I believe that quality-of-life issues still matter.
Today, I saw a young woman walking two large dogs in front of my house. One of the dogs urinated on my planter while the other one defecated in my front yard. The woman picked up the fecal matter and moved on. She probably felt righteous having done the correct thing. However, I would like her to consider another point of view. As the homeowner, I pay considerable property taxes for each square foot of private land I purchased. For a few years now, I have been attempting to convert my patchy, maple-ruled lawn into a more ecologically palatable garden. The results have been slow a-coming, but I'm pleased.
Amending the soil has been difficult, but more vexing are the people who feel it is within their right to walk wherever they wish on property which isn't theirs. This includes advertisers, dog walkers and sometimes mail carriers when they don't read the notice on file. I have put up scattered thin-metal fencing as a reminder, but to no avail. If there is a no-soliciting sign on your door, are people still legally allowed to leave advertising brochures to be blown under the bushes? These people give no thought as to perennials that might be under the snow and the leaf mulch. This is particularly vexing in the early spring when tulip, daffodil and crocus shoots haven't made their final push through the leaf cover and never will because they've been trampled.
When I had my beloved dog, Beara, I would let her out into my backyard, then take her for a walk, and clean up afterwards. If that's not a possibility for others, the property between the sidewalk and the street is village-owned, even though they don't maintain it. Which leads me to another gripe — living on a busy street near a stoplight can be tricky. After years of picking up others' garbage on the parkway, I'm getting pretty bored with it. Can't community service include picking up papers on the parkway, as is done in front of my house twice a year by village employees — before and after the Fourth of July parade?
I feel better now that I've written this letter, which I've been composing for the last four decades.
Pat Healey is a 40-year Oak Park resident.
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