A little perspective goes a long, long way

Opinion: Columns

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By John Hubbuch

Reading Wednesday Journal the first months of 2011 might cause one to conclude that these are important, momentous times for our community. The controversies over the future of the Comcast building, District 97's referendum and the possible closing of the high school's campus are serious matters. Were one to read the many postings of our residents, one would be concerned that our village teeters on the edge of an abyss of low-income crime, crushing taxes and reefer madness.

Fortunately, we're not even close to the edge. Perspective is one of life's greatest treasures. Some of us get it from growing older. It's hardly compensation for a face that looks like a catcher's mitt, or multiple nighttime trips to the bathroom, but it's something. Perhaps an easier way to acquire perspective is a knowledge and appreciation of history. You can get some history by reading about it, or talking to those who have gone before you.

A little perspective about Oak Park's history would cause most anyone to realize that today's issues are almost laughably unimportant. If you're looking for some genuine can't-get-to-sleep-apocalyptic-gut-ringing fear, check out the 1960s when Oak Park confronted its demise. Whites were fleeing en masse from Chicago's West Side, and prominent political scientists predicted that the tidal wave of fear and panic-selling would sweep over Oak Park. Imagine the fear and anguish over deciding whether you would stay or go. Your neighbor decides to move. Will you? Imagine the block party discussions. Imagine mom and dad lying in bed talking about what would be best for the kids.

By the time we moved here in 1976 to buy our first home and start our family, the crisis had begun to pass. Oh, there were some people who told us that Oak Park was in dire peril and we were crazy, but they were about 10 years behind the times. The heavy lifting had already been done for us. The strategy was in place. Three houses later we thank our lucky stars we happened upon this town.

What amazes me is, in fact, the worst didn't happen. Through the efforts of cadres of men and women, black and white, there developed a unique Oak Park strategy that steered people to homes and apartments. "For sale" signs were prohibited. All kinds of interlocking ordinances, departments, programs and nonprofit agencies were created to address this complicated complexity. A unique equity insurance program was created. Schools, governments, Realtors — everyone had to work together for a common goal. The only turf was Oak Park. And the terrible storm passed. We should be forever grateful and thankful for what they did. They represent the best of Oak Park, and who we should aspire to be, as we address the uncertainty of the coming years.

John Hubbuch, an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976, is a retired lawyer. Hubbuch served on the District 97 school board and coached youth sports. He is the father of three and grandfather of two. Read his blog at www.oakpark.com/Community.

Reader Comments

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john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 2:26 PM

To: John - I apologize for accidentally posting the comment below on your page. I was not trying to steer your stream in the wrong direction. I wish I could remove it, but I don't think that is possible. Apology again, John

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: May 18th, 2011 2:21 PM

The Madison Housing Devel has no requirement that a resident works or seeks work. They are required to pay 706 dollars in rent, have a case worker, and follow the house rules. Development eligibility is now the board's responsibility. That preference will be presented to all investors for their approval. The approval is essentially that the investor invests. It is my understanding that Interfaith will represent the village OP in the negotiations. Is that a conflict of interests. Who knows?

OP Resident  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 11:01 AM

"OP" is still posing as "OP Resident".


Posted: May 17th, 2011 9:09 AM

Excited to see Oak Park at its finest hour. Keep it up

OP Resident  

Posted: May 17th, 2011 1:19 AM

OP was hijacked May 15th 2:35pm. Check it out. Not good. Time to walk my animals

OP Guy  

Posted: May 16th, 2011 11:25 PM

OP writes "without any substantiated claims" - how hypocritical!


Posted: May 16th, 2011 3:07 PM

Ha Ha, that's the funniest thing O'Shea has said. Condescending? Sharco has said alot worse and YOU ( O'SHEA) have INFERRED MUCH WORSE.- without any substantiated claims. Just alleged testimony and other so called facts.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 16th, 2011 2:45 PM

I would tread lightly in your responses to "OP". It's now been established that "OP" gained access to personal information of someone who recently posted a comment. What's been going on over the last couple of days is a concern. "OP" is not pulling some sophomoric prank. There has been a pattern of bullying and intimidation that portrays an individual who should not and cannot be trusted. There have been many spirited discussions on this forum but recent actions by "OP" are very troubling.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 16th, 2011 2:34 PM



Posted: May 16th, 2011 2:32 PM

Only you Sharco, would make such ASSUMPTIONS. Dont assume and pick up your litter.


Posted: May 16th, 2011 2:18 PM

How will they ever have the time to meet with their case workers if they are working so much. I guess its OK to be a recovering alcoholic, drug addict, or x prostitute as long as they are going to work. That is until thay make more than 26K, then get out.


Posted: May 16th, 2011 1:29 PM

Having identical apartments means nothing. The residents who will WANT to be there can make their own choices. No one will be forced to live there. People will be at work and they will be tired just like other working folk. No time for crime.

Interested in OP  

Posted: May 16th, 2011 1:23 PM

None of the other apartment buildings have 51 identical and quite small units. I'd also venture a guess that they don't have linoleum floors which speaks more to hospital or dorm than adult on their own apt bldg. They also don't have case workers on site. Let's call a spade a spade.


Posted: May 16th, 2011 1:06 PM

M E, You got it right the 1st time when you said an apt bldg designated for low-income residents. You got it wrong when you then refered to it as geographic isolation of the poor. These residents would work and not just get a govt check. There is a difference. Why the difference in description? High density? Have you seen the apartment buildings one block away on Washington Blvd? This will house many less and is in both residential and commercial area.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2011 12:29 PM

Mary Ellen, I completely agree on all counts. I read something different the first time through your post.

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 16th, 2011 12:23 PM

Chris, developing a high-density apt. building specifically and publicly designated for low-income residents is, in my opinion, a form of geographic isolation of the poor, no matter where in Oak Park it is located. And all Oak Park residents are affected by the violent street crime, struggling schools, and and extremely high property taxes.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2011 11:27 AM

@Mary Ellen - the notion that South Oak Park is being designated "the wrong side of the tracks" is a major concern, agreed. Why doesn't a project like this ever gain traction in North Oak Park? Certainly hope property value isn't the answer to that question because that would be pretty hypocritical, wouldn't it?

Mary Ellen Eads from Oak Park  

Posted: May 16th, 2011 10:54 AM

I agree that Oak Park's survival as a middle class community is not dependent on the fate of the Comcast project. We have many other problems including astronomical property taxes, stumbling public schools and way too much violent street crime. If implemented Comcast will be at worst, a minor addition to these problems. Still, the project seems to give support to the notion that low income residents should be isolated geographically-a modern version of living on the wrong side of the tracks.


Posted: May 16th, 2011 10:33 AM

No clown, I live next door, and I really don't wont you in my back yard. If you do come by, I'll gove you a ride in my Ferrari.


Posted: May 16th, 2011 9:22 AM

Marco, I bet you are the person with the lowest income on this board and have the lowest taxes. So I hope you'll be there. The funny thing is I'd rather have the 50 I bring over you as a neighbor any day!


Posted: May 16th, 2011 8:41 AM

And bring 50 of your closest low income friends, so we can all get a feel of what to expect in the near future.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 16th, 2011 8:20 AM

OP: Why don't you show up to the Village Board meeting and speak in support of the project this evening?


Posted: May 16th, 2011 7:47 AM

There goes the neighborhood!


Posted: May 16th, 2011 3:05 AM

Ready to welcome our new neighbors

OP Resident  

Posted: May 16th, 2011 12:06 AM

I hope the Village will take testimony today from both sides.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 7:37 PM

Ridiculous. I'll be Facebook verified until this is over.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 7:07 PM

"Sure". Brilliant response, Phoney Baloney! Why continue with the charade? Explain the reasoned thought process that bought you to conclude that this is the only way to get attention. You seem to have studied the tactics of Karl Rove and decided to undermine an open and honest debate. Your scam is not gong shut me up and I'll call you out every time. Fight the good fight but fight fair. If you can.


Posted: May 15th, 2011 6:20 PM

"The ONLY thing we have to fear......is fear itself"-FDR 1932.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 6:13 PM


OP Resident  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 5:58 PM

Why go this route with your phoney posts? Leave me with the dub I've used since this forum began. The only reason you continue to post as "OP Resident" is to confuse and distort. There's no other logical explanation. It's interesting to note that you state a postion you believe to be contrary to something I have posted. Rather than engage in the debate you seeking to undemine the process. How pathetic! I could use a different dub but am sure you'd continue with your stalking antics. Get lost!

OP Resident  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 4:43 PM

Lets just move forward for the good of our community. I think we can ALL get along.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 4:41 PM

Who are you.....I'll tell you if you tell me. I am an Oak Park resident

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 4:32 PM

I certainly have my suspicions on who is "borrowing" screen names. What next? Are you going to put a thumbtack on the teachers chair or try to put a sign that says "Kick Me" on the teacher's back? Or are you going to grow up and stop acting like a kid acting out in the school yard?

OP Resident  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 4:25 PM

The phoney "OP Resident" is still posting! Despite repeated calls to refrain from using my dub, the fraud resorts to creepy and deceitful tactics. Stand on your own two feet and present your opinion without trying to confuse the issue. Looks like I'm dealing with a cyber stalker. I've stated that the vacant apartment building on Garfield just east of Barrie Park would be ideal. It's closer to schools, recreation and public transporation. A sports bar/music club belongs in the Comcast building.


Posted: May 15th, 2011 3:54 PM

So true Chris. So true. Crime is down. I hope this OP person can sleep with themselves at night. Its good to know that the POLICE are aware of whats going on and are on heightened awareness and have their eyes and ears more open than normal. Its nice to know that Oak Park's finest live amongst us in our community. I love to see the RBO's squads parked out on the streets of OP. I think it makes criminals think twice.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 3:37 PM

I am so glad we can help those with less and embrace them to have brighter futures. I've lived in this community long enough to know that WE (Oak Park) can and WILL make a difference in society. I want to extend my confidence in this plan and get behind it 100%. YES WE CAN.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 3:14 PM

"Don't care if crime goes up"??? I don't think there's a single person in the community, for or against the project, who will agree with that statement. That's just ridiculous.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 2:36 PM

Patricia, I guess we could take it as a compliment that the phonies are targeting us. We must be on to something! The strategy seems to be to confuse and discredit but exposes a lack of character and conviction. When I was taking the heat from David Pope, Ray Johnson and Jim Kelly; the phoney poster showed no interest in engaging in the discussion. You have to wonder about the thought process or lack thereof. Keep fighting the good fight!


Posted: May 15th, 2011 2:35 PM

I don't really care if crime goes up, as long as low income residents get to live in Oak Park. Seniors can wait their turn. Seriously, you all don't know what you're talking about, I do cause I've live in projects before, and it's great! Very peaceful places with low crime... and property values are bound to sky rocket, because that's all part of the low income housing plan. I know it works, I won't give any examples, because I just know!


Posted: May 15th, 2011 2:05 PM

The PMO post wasn't me either. Weird.

OP Resident  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 1:47 PM

Bogus "OP Resident" is at it again! Despite a pledge to stop posting using the dub "OP Resident", the fraud continues. There's not much I can do about it but will try to tag the phoney when possible. I guess the intent is to discredit the "real" OP Resident by posting inane comments. As I've said before, "I was here first!". Please stop riding my coattails and get your own moniker. How about "Phoney Baloney"?

OP Resident  

Posted: May 15th, 2011 1:32 PM

This message is to David Barsotti,Greg Marsey and Les Golden. I voted, Did you?


Posted: May 15th, 2011 1:30 PM

I give up


Posted: May 13th, 2011 5:33 PM

Take your kids and your negative attitude to get readjusted. Just kidding. Good luck finding a better village. Welfare moms deserve the same opportunity as your family.


Posted: May 13th, 2011 4:16 PM

Op, since the candidates were legally restricted from taking a stand on this issue (per David Pope) prior to the election, neither I nor your silent majority indicated agreement on this issue with our board candidate votes. A vote is a good idea. Perhaps with your confidence you would suggest it is put on a ballot? I would welcome that although I know it is too late. And trust me, everything that has been done wasn't done with 2 people. I work 50 hours a week, commute, and have 2 small kids

epic lulz  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 3:58 PM

Fermilab is hard at work looking for the silent majority. The Standard Model predicts its existence, but do far no one can find it.


Posted: May 13th, 2011 3:50 PM

People talk with their votes. We just had an election and O'Shea and murtagh said it was a 1 issue election. I do believe there are other ways,besides comment sections, that the trustees, who will be the final deciders, communicate with the people of this fine Village! Im glad you voted in April.


Posted: May 13th, 2011 3:40 PM

Everytime you say "silent majority" I chuckle. It's an oxymoron. No such thing as a "silent" majority.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 3:35 PM

OP: I'd encourage the silent majority to join the debate. Right now this silent majority is looking more like decoys or store mannequins than living, breathing Oak Parkers.


Posted: May 13th, 2011 2:47 PM

Ken, Im glad you are concerned about the NON demand. Whos concern should that be? The good news is that YOU dont have to live there. All the opponents just have THEMSELVES to look out for. What about the silent majority of Oak Parkers who may welcome this project with open arms. Huh?

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: May 12th, 2011 11:09 AM

As I see it the facts are being ignored here and the project is moving forward against the wishes of Oak Park residents. Where is the demand for this type of housing from within OP? For all the discussion that has taken place, has IHDC/OPHA listened to and addressed any of the concerns that have been raised by OP residents? Their focus is on their own agenda -- not the overall well-being of Oak Park.


Posted: May 12th, 2011 9:43 AM

Ken, I wouldn't take OPs comment at face value. Read the history at www.madisonprojectinfo.com for the full story.


Posted: May 12th, 2011 8:24 AM

Ken, This process has been ongoing since 2007. I'd say there have been plenty of planning, fact checking, discussions, and evidence provided. The groups that are involved ALL have a proven track record and our community has a proven track record. I think OP is in for a WIN WIN!

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: May 12th, 2011 8:16 AM

OP: that seems to be the prevailing theme of those who support this -- set aside all that silly planning and fact-based reason, close your eyes and wish for the best. Not an ideal public planning model.


Posted: May 12th, 2011 8:12 AM

Good is Good. I believe good can and will prevail, whatever the outcome. I have faith in the process and will be OK with whatever happens.

Doubting Thomas from Oak Park  

Posted: May 12th, 2011 5:50 AM

@OP: Your faith is inspiring (or something). I'm a "pray like everything depends on God, and work like everything depends on you" kind of guy. Especially when others refuse to see that there could be a downside that needs to be managed. Miracles don't just happen and neighborhoods don't fall into decay overnight....they slowly erode.


Posted: May 11th, 2011 9:42 PM

My evidence is in GOD and that he/she is GOOD. You may doubt it, but reassured, God is good and so is all people.

Doubting Thomas from Oak Park  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 4:39 PM

All these years later, if Pak Park is as healthy and far from the edge as Hubbuch states, why not bring back the "for sale" signs in front of houses? What are we afraid of? Displaying the 600 foreclosures and the dozens of families trying to escape the crushing taxes, open air drug markets, increasing violence, and clueless village government? Because we are as close to the edge now as we were back then. Hubbuch is wrong.

Doubting Thomas from Oak Park  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 4:33 PM

@OP: Other than hopes and wishes, what makes you believe that the Project will turn out to benefit the community? You have provided no data, no reasoning, no nothing. It makes people feel you are either an idiot or have inside information. So, which is it? (FWIW, my money is on clueless and probably hallucinagenic drug-dependent).


Posted: May 11th, 2011 4:29 PM

Anger and fear? Wow, therapy will be next


Posted: May 11th, 2011 4:18 PM

I'm just commenting on the article. Theres nothing to fear right? Its all in our heads. So lift the for sale ban. Not scared, VERY ANGRY.


Posted: May 11th, 2011 3:20 PM

Marco, I fear YOU and your types that are scared and paint all people from a certain income group with a broad brush. I believe most OP'ers do as well. BTW there will be commercial there.


Posted: May 11th, 2011 3:13 PM

If there is nothing to fear, why not bring back for sale signs.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 2:38 PM

I also recommend reviewing www.madisonprojectinfo.com.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 2:15 PM

It may be helpful for those concerned about this project to review the application and Plan Commission Findings of Fact regarding this development. These are available at http://www.oak-park.us/planning/index.html (right sidebar).


Posted: May 11th, 2011 11:04 AM

That the difference between your successful building in the city and here. There is a certain element of noise that city folk are accustomed too. I like my sleep, and so does my children. At least with comcast there was no noise at nite because there was no one there. A good reason it should stay a commercial building.


Posted: May 11th, 2011 10:49 AM

yea, dont be the ONE


Posted: May 11th, 2011 10:44 AM

Sure it is. There will be some good ones, and the bad ones will be dealt with. It could take months or even a year to deal with it. In the meanwhile the neighbors(those that are left) will have to endure. Only takes one to spoil the pot.


Posted: May 11th, 2011 10:22 AM

Marco , Thats a broad brush to paint for ALL sec 8 recipients.


Posted: May 11th, 2011 10:05 AM

I have lived in Oak Park for 20 years, ten of which I lived next door to an apartment building that held sect 8. Between the loud music all nite from friends and apartments, domestic fights and a few in our parking lot (bottle over the guys head) I miss comcast!

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 9:47 AM

OP - Debate is healthy. It sounds like you've started to take every comment in this debate personally. If you have, I certainly didn't mean to cross that line. These dissenting opinions show that people deeply care about keeping Oak Park special. I appreciate your faith in the partners, but I reserve my right to have concerns with the project. If the development comes to be I obviously HOPE you are right.


Posted: May 11th, 2011 9:32 AM

It will continue to be. Rest assured.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 9:30 AM

OP: You are correct. I am not 100 years old, but I am well aware of Oak Park's history and tradition and moved here embracing that spirit. With that in mind, why does it matter whether I've lived here 6 months or 60 years (the answer is somewhere in between the two)? I fully support affordable housing in Oak Park or any other community. I'd just like to see it delivered as effectively as it has been for the past 40 years.


Posted: May 11th, 2011 9:21 AM

Clearly you haven't experienced in person or learned how Oak Park has thrived over the last 100 yrs. Your opinions couldnt be farther from the truth( IMHO) I probably could point out 5 projects off the top of my head that people claimed would be the damaging project that OP would NOT recover from. Pleeeeeease.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 9:17 AM

OP: What does how long I've lived in Oak Park have to do with anything? I've repeatedly asked you to stop using a screen name and identify yourself so we can communicate openly as neighbors. You've ignored every request, so I don't feel any need to respond to your question.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 9:11 AM

Apples and Oranges - my property taxes are already as high as I can bear. At a time of record foreclosure rates I'm not sure it's fair or realistic to the current property owners to suggest that the community can afford to fund more social programs, whether for current residents or non-residents. More programs = higher taxes, and that's on top of the increase that just passed. You must have deeper pockets than most of the rest of us do.


Posted: May 11th, 2011 9:08 AM

I question Chris Koertge and would like to know how long he has lived in OP? Clearly even this ONE project would not take down OP. Its one building with 51 human beings living in it. Thats it. No more No less. Clearly you refuse to identify the successes of the other buildings that Interfaith has developed. Oak Park is so perfect of a community for a project like this. Yes, we can ALL walk side by side without our town being DAMAGED. We move forward in OP, not backward. Welcome.

Apples and oranges  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 8:35 AM

I came here too in 1976 when Oak Park was "turning". I didn't get a house because of vouchers and neither did my neighbors. We've built a community. Who and what are we trying to attract here? We have low income housing. We have more than our immediate neighbors communities. Why OP? We probably have more taxpayer funded community services, support and outreach programs I would guess Berwyn and Cicero don't. We've got deep pockets we could fund more social programs for non-residents.


Posted: May 11th, 2011 8:03 AM

If you build it, they will move. Neighbors of Gove are already talking of moving and some are taking action including myself. This may not be a mass exodus, but will be a game changer.

Chris Koertge from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 7:51 AM

John, one badly planned project can tip the balance for a community that has thrived as the role model of an integrated community for decades. The damage, once done, can't be undone. Why this need to rush this project through, other than for benefit of the developers? Aren't the needs of the community more important than those of a couple of business people? Shouldn't we take the time to listen to the concerns and build a development that furthers Oak Park's legacy of successful integration?

OP Guy  

Posted: May 10th, 2011 11:09 PM

John, I think you are down playing peoples justified fears. Yes, we are not faced with the same plight as Oak Park once was, and Oak Park did come up with some creative solutions, but THAT is the point. The people opposing the Comcast project want Oak Park to use the same creative solutions they've used in the past, to have mixed level income residents in the same place. People fear that the current proposal mimics past failed models. No, not the brink of disaster, but why undo OP's success?

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