Loves Forest Park, voting for Anan

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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The candidates for village government in Oak Park have two competing theories about the sorry state of the business climate in Oak Park: one side says it's all due to the bad economy while the other side says the practices and policies of the government in Oak Park also play a role.

So let's try an experiment (I'm fond of experiments). Take a few minutes on any given day and drive each way along Madison Street from Austin Boulevard west to Thatcher. The stretch in Oak Park and Forest Park are similar in many ways, and they certainly share the same economy; for instance, in Forest Park there is a cemetery along Madison, and in Oak Park there is the dead weight of village hall.

A little more than half the length is in Oak Park, so you shouldn't feel too threatened by the little time you spend in Forest Park. As you go, compare the vibrant feel in Forest Park to the more sedate atmosphere in Oak Park. Contrast the refugees from Oak Park on the Forest Park side (such as the Original Pancake House, Centuries and Sleuths, and Thyme and Honey) to the refugee from Forest Park on the Oak Park side (Circle Theater, now wandering in Chicago rather than stay here).

When you compare the vacancies on either side of Harlem, you might object that one of the big vacancies on the Oak Park side is a former car dealer. Who could be expected to replace a car dealer with something comparable? Yet somehow Forest Park has replaced a car dealer with a car dealer (the grand opening is going on now). And that former Forest Park dealership had its roots in Oak Park, where I once bought a car. Having performed your experiment, I suspect you will reach the same conclusion I have: that the business climate in Oak Park is good — for Forest Park.

Meanwhile, at least Anan Abu-Taleb is able to admit that there is a problem with Oak Park's village government beyond the state of the economy, the first step toward a solution. I hope you'll join me in supporting his astonishing effort and vote for him on April 9.

Hans Goeckner

Oak Park

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Hans Goeckner from Oak Park  

Posted: May 30th, 2013 1:03 PM

And the headline for my original comment is rather misleading. While I certainly find Forest Park a pleasant place, I live in Oak Park for a reason. However, that reason doesn't include a highly effective and efficient government, or I couldn't live here (or in Illinois, either). My point is that the government in FP is rather more effective than that in OP, and I would like our own to get better. It needs to get better, and those already in charge are unlikely to effect that improvement.

Hans Goeckner from Oak Park  

Posted: May 30th, 2013 1:35 AM

You miss the point, muntz. It's not about attracting car dealers per se. The point is that OP has a well-earned reputation of working against business instead of with them, whereas FP is otherwise. Not that I'm suggesting we become a new National City (look it up), but I've also heard many OP business owners mock the obstructionist attitude that is the dead weight of village hall when they think nobody is listening. I don't question John Hedges' integrity, but his perspective is suspect.

Hans Goeckner from Oak Park  

Posted: May 30th, 2013 1:14 AM

No, Frank, but I would like the dead weight of village hall to be less obstructionist and more constructive. It doesn't require more tax dollars so much as a better attitude toward business; I've known owners of several businesses that would be better fits in OP than FP, but they've gone to the latter because dealing with the dead weight of village hall is too painful. And OP and FP aren't as different as apples and oranges, that's nonsense; Galas and Honeycrisps, maybe, or Orange Pippins.

Hedges = Integrity  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 12:54 PM

John Hedges has worked as a Trustee to simplify and energize the Village's approach to economic development in all of our business districts. He has a plan that calls for unity of marketing approach and clearer lines of responsibility when it comes to recruitment. What is Abu Taleb's plan? He doesn't have one. Complaining about a problem is not the same as working to solve a problem. Hedges has been solving problems in local government for his entire career.


Posted: April 8th, 2013 10:22 AM

How many guns shots have gone off on Madison St in FP in the last 5 yrs? Now in the same time frame, how many gun shots on Madison or DTOP or The Avenue District, or the Pleasant District in OP? Need I say more about OP vs FP?


Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:55 AM

Don't forget Madison in OP has 1-2 extra "lanes" to contend with and the corresponding building setbacks, so it will never have the same feel as Madison in FP. Also, the OP car dealer-ships sailed long ago and are not coming back. It makes more sense the cluster in areas with numerous dealerships (witness 159th ST Tinley Park, Ogden in Westmont, Golf in Schaumburg, LaGrange Rd, etc), similar to how boutiques cluster in Chicago neighborhoods. Competition brings more foot traffic.

Forest Park is no role model  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:51 AM

Comparing Madison in FP to OP is apples to oranges. Oak Park's downtown is Lake St. Not to mention that the supposedly "thriving" downtown Forest Park is filled with plenty of vacant storefronts and shady businesses.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:45 AM

Well said, Hans

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:42 AM

Frank - Just one error in your post. The village has already spent millions of dollars on Madison. Could Madison have been as good in OP as it looks in FP. Certainly, check Madison from Harlem to Home. That was done with TIF money. The village never got to do the balance of Madison because the board was too anxious to poor money into Downtown Oak Park.


Posted: April 8th, 2013 9:27 AM

Dead weight of Village Hall? Really? So we should just get rid of our government all together? Yes Madison Street in Forest Park is more vibrant than in Oak Park. But Oak Park has Lake Street, just as vibrant if not more. Truth is that Madison Street in Oak Park would NEVER look like Madison Street in Forest Park, unless you are prepared to spend millions. Is that what you are advocating for Hans? New Taxes?

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