I read each of our local papers cover to cover every week, even political ads. After reading Diana Carpenter's "Open Letter to the People of Oak Park," I feel I must make a response.
She makes a major point that those people who do not feel the Crandall Arambula Downtown Master Plan is wise do not value citizen input since "nearly 900 citizens attended multiple public hearings" that led to the plan.
My wife and I were among the nearly 900 citizens who attended public hearings. In our case, we attended three of the workshops at the high school where Mrs. Crandall and Arambula and several village officials told us the way the project was going to be and then had us break into small groups to discuss their presentation and give our ideas. We all dutifully ate our snacks and gave our feedback but it seems that none of our feedback ever emerged as part of the plan.
The sense we had was that it was our job as citizens to be told the way things would be and then accept what we were told as the way it would be. The two of us never felt we were really part of any collaborative process and walked away feeling frustrated and ignored.
We would like Ms. Carpenter to remove our two numbers from her nearly 900 hundred since we felt our feedback was totally ignored. This process stands in firm contrast to the Cap The Ike collaborative process, where the consultants seemed to really hear what we had to say and made a real attempt to incorporate our ideas into the emerging alternate plans for the cap and, even if they could not so incorporate, seemed to listen to and respond to our ideas.
Given our experience, we took the opportunity to speak to members of "the opposition" and had a pleasant surprise. All of the opposition candidates actually sat down and discussed ideas about downtown development with us and listened to what we had to say. We actually got feedback and saw an interest in our ideas. Even when we disagreed, we felt that we were being heard and our opinions respected.
I sincerely hope that whoever won the village board Election extends the same courtesy to us as citizens, voters, and, yes taxpayers.
Frank R. Vozak