Village trustees shouldn't make Whiteco their legacy

Opinion

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The process involving the Whiteco project began in the summer of 2002. It took nearly a year of meetings and hearings?#34;the village board's and commissions' time, village staff time, citizens' time, the developer's time?#34;before the project was ultimately rejected by the Plan Commission.

To give some idea of the commitment of time it would have required a citizen to stay involved in this process, in February and March 2003, the Plan Commission alone had over ten meetings running 45-plus hours.

The revised Whiteco proposal was presented in April 2004 but the six public hearings with Whiteco that followed were held in the summer beginning in June and July 2004 while many families vacationed. This last Thanksgiving, just as families were gearing up for holiday festivities and family commitments, meetings and study sessions resumed again as Whiteco's revised plan was presented. Rushed Plan Commission hearings began again this month during a cold snap and the heaviest snowfall of the season, Jan. 6, 20, 22, 24 and 27.

Whiteco, no doubt highly motivated by the $8.2 million subsidy/giveaway, could go on attending meetings indefinitely but how many parents with school-aged kids can abandon those nightly responsibilities to sit through endless proceedings? How many older residents could come out in this frigid, icy, snowy weather to stay involved? How are people with disabilities, or people caring for persons with disabilities, expected to be able to stay involved in a time commitment which amounted to a second job? This process wasted time for countless people, time which should have been put in on the front end of the project, planning and interviewing with developers and citizens. So many hours, weeks, months and years were required to stay involved in this process that many were excluded from participating by the time commitment alone. Is this a realistic democratic model?

Now, two years later, after all this effort by so many, Whiteco is still the same objectionable project it always was, still too dense, too tall, too subsidized, too architecturally undistinguished, wrong place, wrong town. What a mistake and financial disaster for our village! This is the legacy out of town: Developers choose to leave here and our current village board will, no doubt, rush to get this through in a misguided effort to point to some accomplishment in their terms.

Robert J. Vernon
Oak Park

 

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