Speed zones proposed near Oak Park parks

Park board enthusiastic; village board makes final decision


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By Megan Dooley

Staff Reporter

The Park District of Oak Park's board voiced its support last Thursday night for a proposal from a village commission to implement reduced speed zones on streets next to village parks.

To increase safety for park patrons, the village government's Transportation Commission voted late last month to recommend that park speed zones of 20 mph be set up on streets surrounding the village's most well-used parks. The speed zones would be similar to school speed zones, but would likely be effective 24 hours per day.

Transportation commission Chairman Paul Aeschleman, who will also be a candidate for the park board in the April elections, presented the plan to the park district's board and asked that its members endorse the project.

"It's a first step for trying to calm the speed of motorists around the parks," Aeschleman told the board.

Signage similar to that found in school speed zones would be used to establish the reduced speed zones around Barrie Park, Lindberg Park, Maple Park, Rehm Park, Ridgeland Common and Taylor Park. Park board members also supported the idea of including Longfellow Park in the proposal.

If approved by the Oak Park village board, the zones would be a first for the village.

"This is an entirely new thing," said Aeschleman. "There are school speed zones but there are no park speed zones."

Aeschleman said that the transportation commission hopes to bring the proposal before the village board in time to implement the speed zones before the summer.

If the project is approved and the park speed zones prove effective, Aeschleman said that the transportation commission would seek similar action for all the remaining Oak Park parks.

"We've never done anything of quite this scale before," Aeschleman said. Nevertheless, he said the project would be relatively quick and inexpensive to complete, and would have an immediate effect.

Oak Park police chief Rick Tanksley said Monday that the village police had not yet heard about the proposal.

The park district board did not take official action at the Thursday night meeting, but reached a consensus to support the plan.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," park board President Mark Gartland said at the meeting.

Gartland also said that a member of the park board should be present at the meeting at which the proposal is brought before the village board of trustees.

"This really puts a process in place for considering safety-related issues for traffic concerns near parks," Gary Balling, executive director of the parks, said later in a separate interview. "This is very welcomed by the park district."

Reader Comments

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Posted: February 8th, 2011 6:36 PM

I believe there already are churches that have assistance from the OPPD to do traffic duty for such things. Calvary Memorial on Lake St is one such church.

church speed zones from OP  

Posted: February 8th, 2011 5:47 PM

Where the 20 mph is really needed are around the churches. After services, espeically in the evening, dozens and hundreds of people are at risk crossing busy streets. That's where the reduced speed liimit is needed.

Brian Crawford  

Posted: February 8th, 2011 1:59 PM

The roads belong to everyone who uses them, and we need more respectful use from all--pedestrians, those in wheelchair and similar mobility devices, cyclists, motor vehicle drivers, even moms and dads pushing baby strollers. I think slowing down cars is a good start, but mutual respect among all users should be the ultimate goal.


Posted: February 8th, 2011 10:33 AM

@Reality, Not Perception from Oak Park Why do you frequent parks after hours anyway? Especially after repeated violations, are you a sadist?

oh yeah  

Posted: February 8th, 2011 2:53 AM

@"Reality, Not Perception". I concede your point. If you have truly been robbed in OP's parks multiple times while the rest of us enjoy them without incident, "perception" is not your problem.

Correction from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2011 8:10 PM

I made an error in my analysis of the photograph. Every one of the trees pictured was destroyed by Balling and his pals.

Name Withheld from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2011 4:45 PM

Factually, criminals love parks so don't be alone there day or night. State of our world - sad but true - so live realistically and be alert and prepared. And yes, the once wonderful park district has evolved into a business slick force.

Cut the Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2011 3:09 PM

This photograph just shows how contemptible is the administration of the Oak Park Park District, Gary Balling executive director, J. Martin Konecki, college dropout ignorant apologist. The large sign heralds the so-called improvements to be made. This photo was therefore taken before any such destruction occurred. In fact, every single tree except the large one on the left hand side have been cut down by Balling and his friends. This is the deception we've come to expect. Your taxes at work

Reality, Not Perception from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2011 2:30 PM

@ Oh Yeah: So you're telling that I haven't been robbed multiple times throughout my life in Oak Park Parks? That isn't perception. Go hang out in Stevenson after dark and tell me it's my perception that they are unsafe.

David Kindler from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2011 12:34 PM

The parks are no more, or less safe than any other area of the Village. Each of the park plans involves collaboration with the Oak Park Police Department to review ways to improve lighting, visibility through the park by police officers on patrol, and the elimination of hiding spots. The Park District does not have a police force, like North Berwyn does, but relies on the Oak Park Police to patrol.

oh yeah  

Posted: February 7th, 2011 12:31 PM

There is nothing wrong with safety in the parks. Your perception of a lack of safety is just that -- your perception. Work on changing that while the rest of us continue to enjoy the parks.


Posted: February 7th, 2011 10:38 AM

We can post all we want - it's compliance that is the issue.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: February 6th, 2011 1:43 PM

I'll make my own decisions about when to involve law enforcement, but I would point out that it is not necessary to be the victim of a crime in order to feel unsafe. I do not encourage out of town guests to walk unaccompanied in any areas of Oak Park, including the parks, unless the area is well populated. While I suppose we residents have to take our chances on the streets, parks should provide better security. I'll also continue to post under my real name, unlike "Friend of parks."

Stop fooling yourself - parks are unsafe at times from Oak Park  

Posted: February 6th, 2011 1:09 PM

@ Friends of Oak Park: Misinformation? Are you suggesting that all of the parks in the village are safe? Go to Bye, Whittier, Hatch, Anderson, Stevenson, Rehm, or Longfellow (just to name a few) in the evening and tell me it's safe. I promise you, that if you did that for 30 days straight, you would be the victim of a crime.

Friend of parks from oak park  

Posted: February 6th, 2011 10:02 AM

For sake of accuracy, the Park District Board doesn't actually decide on the speed zone, the Village Board does on recommendation from its transportation committee. Per the article, the PD Board merely reached consensus that they think it a good idea near those parks named. Ms. Eads, which parks do you perceive not to be safe and for what reason? Have you ever communicated this fear, or better yet an actual incident, to the PD or the police? Otherwise you're simply spreading misinformation.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: February 6th, 2011 8:54 AM

Well, I suppose the Park Board needs something to do and it's hard to be against this proposal. Plus, any additional ticket revenues will help village finances. I do wonder how many accidents have occurred in these prospective zones as opposed to other areas of the village. Maybe all of Oak Park should be 20mph? The parks have other problems, harder to fix. Noise, litter, crime and/or the perception that they are often unsafe. They aren't that attractive. New speed rules are the easy button.

Martin, I said stop! from Oak Park  

Posted: February 6th, 2011 1:09 AM

I agree that being proactive is a good thing sometimes. But think about it like this; what if someone hits someone going 20 MPH? Then do we not allow driving around parks and schools? That would be proactive, but I bet even you would think that's too much. As a society, we can do a lot of proactive things that make people safer, but when do we stop? Oh and by the way...I don't go to Starbucks. I'm still believe the "best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup"

J.Martin Konecki from Oak Park  

Posted: February 5th, 2011 7:49 PM

It's called being proactive and smart. Why should we wait for the accidents to occur and then react? What is the trade off? Your trip to Starbucks will be delayed by 30 seconds. The park speed zone, I believe, is 20 MPH. The fastest streets in OP are 30 MPH. Side streets are 25MPH. One life saved is worth it to me!

Stop Overreacting from Oak Park  

Posted: February 5th, 2011 2:53 PM

Have there been accidents by parks and schools that I am not aware of? I'm all for safety too, but there is a balance. If everyone stayed at home, it would be safe. Is that what we want? Maybe protective bubbles that we all live in. F it, let's just ban driving.

J.Martin Konecki from Oak Park  

Posted: February 4th, 2011 6:49 PM

Great News! I hope the Village Board will make this a reality. RF has had if for some yrs now. Makes sense to me. Cant wait for the signs too. I believe park speed zones are ALL the time VS. School zones which are ONLY when children in School.

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