When 7-0 really means dysfunction

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

When you hitch your hopes for economic development almost entirely to fancy brick streets, light bulbs hanging over the street and "water features," then you better get some payback from property owners in the form of new retail tenants, the activity they create and the sales taxes they generate.

Somehow this simple reward-and-benefit equation got stomped last week when the Oak Park village board voted 7-0 not to require landlords along the 100 block of South Marion Street to lease their storefronts to retailers. This is the block which in the past year received $5 million — the last major investment from the now zombie downtown TIF — to make it the street beautiful twin of North Marion Street.

The difference is that north of the Green Line, property owners long understood they had to rent their ground-floor spaces to retailers or restaurants. No chiropractors, financial advisers or Realtors.

That's a fair deal. The village invests our money to dramatically upgrade the street in front of your commercial property. And the village gets what it wants for its main commercial district — retail activity and all the benefits which follow.

But in a sequence of events which suggests a whole lot more division and dissent then a 7-0 vote would imply, this board (and staff) made a bollix out of something which should have followed a mighty straight line.

This debacle started a year ago when Village President David Pope thought the obvious brilliance of his notion of unifying three separate commercial areas — Downtown Oak Park, South Marion and The Avenue along Oak Park Avenue — into a single marketable entity, dubbed The Downtown Districts, would carry the day with a newly reconstituted village board.

Beyond marketing his creation, Pope long has wanted to physically unify the three distinct areas under a blizzard of bricks and bluestone sidewalks.

Pope pushed hard, he pushed late and he pushed without preparation to have his reluctant board sign off on a massive financial commitment to repeat the North Marion model on both South Marion and on Oak Park Avenue from Lake Street to Pleasant. The board balked, and for a brief moment it looked as if Pope would come up empty. Instead he pulled out a semi-face-saving 4-3 OK to move ahead, but only on South Marion.

But in that rush to lavish $5 million on a block which has traditionally been an eclectic mash-up of services, restaurants and a bit of retail, no one made a point of formalizing the obvious. The property owners get the bricks and the village imposes a legal obligation that retail rules.

Now we are left with this bizarre and backward village board-imposed reality: South Marion Street is now a showplace ready to do a star turn for an insurance office or whatever entity can pay the rent.

Over on the 100 block of South Oak Park Avenue, where the Wednesday Journal offices — and I'm one of the owners of the building — reside, we have streetscaping that is 30 years old and looks it, we have a raft of vacancies and we have a village-imposed, retail-only requirement.

That's right. Several months ago the village board, having rightly decided against investing millions it turns out the TIF didn't have to turn my block into Marion Street East, voted to require retail on this block. A tough call, and as a landlord with a small vacant storefront, a real issue. But I supported that decision. Now I feel like a dupe.

Economic development is complex. This wasn't. This was a political failure on a policy board that let itself be led too far down a yellow brick road that it really wasn't sold on. When the logical next step of the retail-only requirement was finally presented, pressure was applied from significant and unified property owners. And a divided village board finally split into its constituent parts, oddly reflected in a unanimous vote.

Contact:
Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

Reader Comments

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Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 3:36 PM

Kyle, that was funny what you said. Well as it is with the current board and leader, they leader says what to do, and the board says ok. The large sidewalks are nice, but why doesn't it meet the village code and the ADA requirements? Well, as no one is in the way of Mary Jo operating her sidewalk cafe, all should be fine, just like Pope and Raymond figured it would be. Get out of the way taxpayers, Pope and Raymond know what they are doing.

Kyle  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 3:26 PM

Miss Thepoint, when Dan Haley commented on June 29 about bumpouts, I said I thought not going retail-only on S. Marion was the correct call. But I'm opposed to that kind of restriction generally. Of all the problems the village has, I've never once thought to myself, "gee, all this would just be fixed if this street were only retail." lol I think it is a solution in search of a problem.

Miss Thepoint  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 2:35 PM

Wow, tons of comments on al fresco dining, Tiger grants, even accounting software. None relevant to the issue of whether the village should insist on retail based establishments fronting this significant investment. You folks only have the one song, eh? PS: Dan, was the village planning on selling old people on the corner of South and Oak Park?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:19 PM

John Butch Murtagh, I don't expect you or many other people to understand what I write about, but what I do think is most people can agree that the spending for ridiculous projects is out of hand, and how can Oak Park taxpayers accept that? What's going on with the land given to Sertus for their big project. Like I said before, no smart investor is going to invest in that plan and Sertus has the land as their personal investment in the project to show confidence to potential investors.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:14 PM

John Butch Murtagh, you just don't get it. You like to make things seem so complicated when they really are not or you may just not understand, and that's fine too. I don't expect many to understand what I am writing about, but what it all comes down to is Oak Park spends a lot of the taxpayers money on things they personally would never do, and which taxpayers would never do, but some how it is all very acceptable because it comes under the big government saying, we don't know what happened.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:11 PM

Q-I am all out of answers and opinion for you on finances. Have a good day.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:09 PM

Cont.. I learned that as being assistant manager for a national international company. The manager switched his job to show I couldn't do it. I ended up doing 2 hours of work for the next day. A group of businessmen came in one day asking why things were being delayed 6 months and longer. I sat there as the manager gave excuses. The businessmen never knew how a simple change would have made them very happy business people, but they were satisfied with being misled.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:05 PM

Cont.. Short story. I started a position years ago as assistant manager for a national international company. The manager switched jobs to prove to himself that I could not be as efficient with his job as mine. I was and each day had 2 hours of the next day's work completed. One day the a group of business men came in to inquire why things were being delayed 6 and more months. I sat there as the manager gave all of the reasons why and they accepted it, and walked out.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:02 PM

Kyle, thank you for the explaining it. If the village board wants a commission then they should be confident that that commission is efficient and can make the correct recommendations. From commissions comes saving time for the board to balance a lot of work in front of them, but at the same time, I have known people who like to say they have a lot of work so they feel they are needed. People don't like to get all of the work done or they made feel more work will come to them. Cont...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 12:56 PM

Cont.. and saved your company to the losses they caused to your company. If you think you can continue your business from that, they great, but Oak Park can't continue making bad decisions especially when it is so obvious that you don't spend 108 thousand dollars when you know you don't have the money to get the millions. Would you do that John? I don't think you would.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 12:53 PM

Cont... If you had a business, and the people in your business were costing you money because they lacked the experience to be in the position you thought they would be able to do, you would only be covering your own self to keep them in that position. It's best to accept people were wrongly selected and get them out of that position instead of costing more money. If you want, you can even do a balance if would be difficult for you to remove people. You would balance what they made Cont..

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 12:50 PM

Cont... What it comes down to is simple inefficient management. Sure, lets get the wife's friend to fix PeopleSoft. Good idea if you don't know what you are doing, but you expect people in management for the most part to know what they are doing, and that ignorance cost taxpayers 250,000 dollars. You don't keep inefficient people in a position to continue creating inefficiencies. If you had a business and you let the people costing you money, you would get rid of them. Cont...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 12:45 PM

John Butch Murtagh , I understand completely what you said. I may be to far ahead for you to understand what I said, but that's because I cut through the garbage and get to the point. The point was no one knew what they were doing. As to change to a new accounting system, and get all of the information into it, it does not require years. It requires management, the proper people and the proper software. That's it period. Any excuses's and why's are just that, excuse's. Cont..

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 12:43 PM

Q - Re your postsssss today. I am giving the finance subject one last try. 1) There is no proper management without a robust, accurate, fast, and responsive finances system, 2) 250,000 was to fix the PeopleSoft (PS) not buy it. 3) PS was more than OP needed, but there were other ERP systems that were more user friendly and less expensive - Village chose the wrong system, 4) There were plenty of residents that were ERP proficient that could have helped the village make the purchase decision - the village chose not to. 5) it takes years and decades to convert a financial system because of enterprises lack of common business processes, use of multiple hardware and software and poor computer training of staff, etc. That's why enterprises shift to ERP. 6) I don't see inefficiency in the board/commission overlap. I do see the commission's role as mundane and unproductive. 7) Oak Park's financial problem is a classic case of not knowing or understanding your financial situation and reacting too late to take corrective action. 8) City or village successes comes from the use of quality information (analyzed data). DONE - Without it decision are too frequently based on opinions (some aged old) and un-validated second hand conversations or anecdotes.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 12:27 PM

Q - Re your postsssss today. I am giving the finance subject one last try. 1) There is no proper management without a robust, accurate, fast, and responsive finances system, 2) 250,000 was to fix the PeopleSoft (PS) not buy it. 3) PS was more than OP needed, but there were other ERP systems that were more user friendly and less expensive - Village chose the wrong system, 4) There were plenty of residents that were ERP proficient that could have helped the village make the purchase decision - the village chose not to. 5) it takes years and decades to convert a financial system because of enterprises lack of common business processes, use of multiple hardware and software and poor computer training of staff, etc. That's why enterprises shift to ERP. 6) I don't see inefficiency in the board/commission overlap. I do see the commission's role as mundane and unproductive. 7) Oak Park's financial problem is a classic case of not knowing or understanding your financial situation and reacting too late to take corrective action. 8) City or village successes comes from the use of quality information (analyzed data). DONE - Without it decision are too frequently based on opinions (some aged old) and un-validated second hand conversations or anecdotes.

Kyle  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 11:39 AM

Q, to clarify, we're in between commission recommendation & Board approval right now. The last I spoke w/some Board members, they hadn't gotten the data/recommendation yet, but I do think what the commission said carries a lot of weight for them. It's more about the duplication of time/info involved. Hasn't John compared it to wrestling an octopus before? lol Obviously, there are a lot of things competing for attention in our local government. IMO the village is juggling too many plates.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 11:31 AM

Done from Oak Park, how could Oak Park, a small village compared to our government, get into such a financial mess? Would this happen with anyone else in any other village, or should we consider ourselves lucky for amazingly talented individuals because losses are worse in other villages. Maybe not all villages with income base of Oak Park citizens are in worse shape. Maybe Oak Park doesn't have amazing people at the controls and they let us thing they are amazing.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 11:25 AM

Some other numbers that are interesting from the Tribune insert - Percentage increase the past ten years of various taxing bodies: Dist 200 - 70.25%; Dist 97 - 53.29%; Village of OP - 58%; OP Park District - 311%; OP Township - 46.48%. The Village of OP also has debts and liabilities of over $126M - don't know if that includes the unfunded pension of almost $95M. Dist. 97 has debts and liabilities of over $60M while Dist. 200 is also over $60M. THESE ISSUES NEED TO BE ADDRESSED!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 11:24 AM

Cont.. waste of taxpayer money regardless that the excuse was we can use the plan later. Regardless if the village had a large surplus of money, you don't spend money without it benefiting the village, which means the citizens of Oak Park. Pope and the board are there to serve the taxpayers, but they apparently don't consider that to be their top priority and think what can the citizens do about it.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 11:20 AM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, that is always how Pope and his team do it. I suppose you could say it's like a cat who knocks over something. The cat leaves the area very quickly as if the cat never had anything to do with what happened. You may consider going through the Oak Leaves, Tribune and the Sun-Times to find the right person to look into why Pope would spend 108 thousand dollars when he didn't have the millions of dollars to match it. It certainly appears to be an obvious Cont...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 11:17 AM

Cont.. I would think it would be even more valuable since the commission is made up of concerned citizens to better Oak Park, opposed to a consulting firm. If they board doesn't want to take commissions seriously, why have them. Good management if the board had any, would know commissions can spend the time that board members can't, and use the information the commission has gathered to make the right decision.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 11:14 AM

Kyle, that has got to be very disappointing for you and all of the members on the commission who worked many hours to gather the information and make the correct recommendations required, and now have it back to the board who don't know what the commission knows about it. The commissions should be considered as a consulting firm. Just because they don't get paid 100 thousand dollars doesn't mean the information is useless. Cont..

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:58 AM

Cont... The first two successes of a business is number one, management and number two, product. If you don't have both of those to start with, you don't have much of a chance for success. Oak Park lacks management, but has a very good product. The product is the citizens of Oak Park, because Oak Park has citizens making above average incomes, and are in jobs that are not likely to go out of business. That makes that product, citizens, very good. Now find good management.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:55 AM

Cont.. When PeopleSoft was brought up, I asked a professional about it and the size of Oak Park. In 5 minutes he explained it was not the software for a small village. What did that consultation cost me? Nothing, and he also recommended a software that is easy to use and inexpensive compared to what the village was doing. It is always poor management that can bring a company down. It was explained to me years ago from a wealthy man. Cont...

Kyle  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:54 AM

I have to say, I really admire what the Transportation Commission did last week listening not only to residents in my neighborhood about safety at an intersection but listening to the village's own study of crashes. They gave the exactly correct recommendation, but then you find yourself right back before the Board since they have to approve it. That commission took the task very seriously, but now the process has to repeat. Which is frustrating given the work just for an advisory opinion.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:52 AM

John Butch Murtagh, there are a few reasons why start up businesses profit quickly, and one of them of course is proper accounting. Another is proper management. No one can tell me that it takes years to get a software system that will effectively handle accounting at the Village of Oak Park. I also know that if someone wants to say it's going to cost 250 thousand dollars that they are being duped by someone. Cont..

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:51 AM

Even though USDOT announced the TIGER grant awards on June 22 (http://www.dot.gov/tiger/), with VOP's proposed $43M Downtown Lake St. streetscaping plan being rejected, there has been no mention of this by the village or local media. In fact, it appears the village is proceeding along as if nothing happened. See below for tonight's village board consent agenda (item F).

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:50 AM

Resolution Authorizing the Formation of the OP Downtown Districts Streetscape Committee: On March 15, 2012, the Village authorized execution of a contract ($108,000) with the Lakota Group for design services related to the Lake Street Corridor of the Downtown Districts from Harlem to Euclid. This is the formal action to assign a working group and develop recommendations to be submitted to the Board of Trustees for the enhancement of streetscape and infrastructure improvements.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:47 AM

Cont.. Mary Jo's Cheese Emporium from what code has been cited does not. That requires the village to re-examine it but our friend on here, Raymond Johnson said he will not. That means for the people who want the real answer are required to ask the ADA. The more people make a call to the ADA, the sooner they are likely to come out and give a decision. If the ADA says it meets requirements, then that is acceptable. Other then that, you have a commission as a nice place for people to join.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:44 AM

Cont.. Regarding the Cheese Emporium, I am not the only one questioning a possible violation. You have read the others who have cited code haven't you? Of course you have. I'm not even the one who first brought it up. It was on another posting questioning what was taking place at Mary Jo's cheese emporium. I can understand if you don't understand how things can get done in social gatherings but they do and that's the way things work, what I do care about is if it meets ADA requirements and Cont.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:41 AM

John Butch Murtagh that must be very frustrating for a commission to know something is wrong and have it tossed aside. It almost makes having a commission board seem to be a suggestion board. It's a nice social type of gathering for people and nice to say this is what you do. Could this commission go to the ADA, if they knew the village was not properly adhering to ADA requirements? Cont...

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:36 AM

How do startup companies become profitable so quickly? They operate with small staffs to keep expenses down, spend more on research than any other expense, delivery products swiftly and inexpensively, and use partners with similar companies. Why can they "Start-up, so quickly? ERP is the answer. The most important role of finance departments is documenting the receipt of revenue and invoices. If your methodology on that is efficient - common, the all of the other financial functions of the enterprise have a chance to be accurate. ERP integrates all process for the internal and external management across the entire enterprise and is particularly efficient in the handling of finance issues. The software is expensive at startup, has high maintenance costs, but ultimately reduce personnel expense and facilitates vastly improves business decision making, speed of action, and flexibility. The OP Board's Finance Committee has been particularly active in the last year and are making progress on helping the Finance Department sorting out the village books. On April 26, 2012, there was a meeting which discussed in detail the information the board requires and the solutions being discussed by the finance department. The minutes from that meeting give great the villages business infrastructure and changes being considered. It appears that the staff is considering the creation of an in-house ERP. The staff has been trying to create an inside ERP-like computer systems since the collapse of PeopleSoft. That has not worked to date. Hopefully, the board and staff can overcome the bad taste left in their mouth following PeopleSoft and bring in some ERP vendors to bring them up to date on how the capabilities of ERP have improved greatly and created non-business applications in the last decade and software cost have declined.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:35 AM

Q - all OP Commission are advisory, work only on pre-approved projects (Annual Work Plan), have minimal or no financial resources, and report to the Village President. What committees lack in authority and resources is offset by the passion of the volunteer commissioners. I am not certain what is the best way to address the ADA violations you suspect, but OP Commissions are an avenue. Bringing the issue to the board is another avenue.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:26 AM

Cont.. Cheese place is still in question if it passes the ADA required area for accessibility. Otherwise what you have is different departments passing around who should do what and then of course nothing happens and it stays the same as it is. Happens all of the time with things the village does because the village knows people loose attention. It works for politicians all of the time.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:22 AM

Kyle and John, I could not get any of the minutes to open. John, you may have been able to open them before. Anyway, my point is that the commission may be considered another recommendation commission, but it still is part of Oak Park. It is not an outside commission and I could not find anything saying that the commission could over ride Pope and his team with decisions relating to public access on sidewalks. Cont...

Kyle  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 10:02 AM

Thanks, John...the broken/missing links are something I'm keeping my fingers crossed gets fixed with the new village website.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 9:04 AM

Finding Commission Membership Rosters - Open Commission and Committees (upper right of home page, Use rectangular box at beginning of text to select commission. Select Citizens Involvement Commission. At bottom right is the list of committee members. I tried to open that this morning and it wound not open despite the fact that other files on the page opened with no problem.

Kyle  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 7:02 AM

FYI on the commissioners...you'll have to click on the minutes, probably, to see the list of present/absent for a meeting. The members aren't listed on the commission homepages nor a way to contact them. It'd be helpful if the public had that info and was able to discuss agenda items with them. That annoyed me recently with the Transportation Commission re: our intersection.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 10:49 PM

John Butch Murtagh, what does seem apparent that all members are from Oak Park, and it's a commission not designated by the ADA, and who the commission reports would seem to be back to the Village Board, and have no powers to enforce their recommendations.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 10:45 PM

John Butch Murtage, I went to http://www.oak-park.us/volunteer/universal_access_commission.html and can't find any name listed. Doing a bit of cross referencing, the name Frank Heitzman and Adam Salzman show as being on or past members of the Disabilities Commission. Salzman now is on the village board. No mention of qualifications to be on the Disabilities Commission.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 9:28 PM

Information on the Disability Access, a list of their names, and the agendas/minutes are on the OP website.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 5:06 PM

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois, from reading what you write about, I thought you had a good understanding how politics work. Who is on the Disability Access Commission and who do they report too?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 3:15 PM

Enuf - I reviewed the 2011 and 2012 Disability Access Commission Meeting and found that there has been no complaints or discussion regarding the disabled and outside seating at restaurants. That surprises me on an issue that is so much on peoples minds.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 1:33 PM

Cont... and Oak Parker's who are aware enough of how money is wasted knows that when it comes time to spend money, the 108,000 dollar plan will be out dated. For people who can't imagine it, probably also didn't know that we were heading into a housing crash. That was an easy one to figure out.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 1:31 PM

Cont... application did say people applying for the grant need the millions to be eligible and Pope did read it, since there seems to common of an excuse that Pope and the board just didn't read certain parts of things, that then Pope was filing an application he knew never had a chance and wasted 108,000 dollars of taxpayer money, but thought he could say we need the plan anyway. Now the 108,00 dollars is in a plan that seats somewhere Cont...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 1:28 PM

Cont... because I thought Johnson was going to stop Pope from what he was doing. It turned out just the opposite, and it all started when Pope had Johnson stop asking about the PeopleSoft. Was there something that Johnson was promised? Johnson sure appears to be a big proponent for everything Pope wants, and it's obvious from the facts regarding the Tiger Grant, and assuming that the Tiger Grant Cont...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 1:23 PM

Enuf is Enuf, the PeopleSoft bad deal with the CFO's wife recommending her friend for the bill of 250,000 dollars is first started paying attention to Ray Johnson because on camera he wanted to know what was going on, and Pope settled him down and that was the ended of it, and I thought Johnson was going to expose something, but Johnson let it go. I continued to pay attention to Johnson, Cont....

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 1:18 PM

@Q ... while Pope certainly has been responsible for bricks and slate streetscaping, TIGER grant applications and $108k design drawings, they have all been supported by Trustees Johnson, Lueck and Brewer to garner 4 votes. More towards Mr. Haley's column, they have also been supported by downtown property and business interests, who want the financial benefits of village funds, but none of the regulations. Hence their opposition to the S. Marion St. retail overlay district.

Green Line Thief  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 1:08 PM

Q, I like the cheese shop set up. It makes it much easier for me to snatch cell phones off tables and purses off the backs of chairs. Plese don't ruin it for all us hard working thieves.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 12:54 PM

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois, it's nice that you agree that everyone should be treated fairly. Go back to the Cheese Emporium and ask yourself how easily it is for people in chairs, people pushing baby strollers and pedestrians to gain access on a public sidewalk going through Mary Jo's outdoor cafe.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 12:51 PM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, that type of information about the Tiger grant makes Pope a person who will do anything he wants. Why would he still be running the board spending taxpayers 108,000 dollars knowing all of the time he could never match it? What would have happened if Pope received the money he wanted? This is certainly something worth a newspaper to start with checking in to. There is just to much wasted money in Oak Park, and even Oak Parker's have a limit to how much they can give.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 12:23 PM

Hi Enuf - Sorry I missed your post re rules about "all outdoor restaurants". I agree that the rules have to be for all and followed by all.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 11:24 AM

@Q (part 1): Pope misrepresented the TIGER grant application to USDOT, village board and public by falsely claiming the 2005 Greater Downtown Master Plan recommended; 1) physically linking the 3 business districts, and 2) streetscaping improvements comprised of brick-paved streets, bluestone slate sidewalks and granite curbs. In fact, the 2005 GDMP does neither. Pope also falsely claimed the village had the financial capacity for $17M matching funds, when in fact, it did not.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 11:24 AM

@Q (part 2): So why did Pope submit a TIGER application enhanced w/ $108K design drawings that had virtually no chance of being awarded, or if so, no chance of being locally funded? My guess is that DTOP was promised streetscaping improvements that Pope could no longer deliver after the DTOP TIF was effectively ended by overspending and the D200 lawsuit. As a result, Pope was merely putting on a dog and pony show to appease DTOP interests, who can't be too pleased right now.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 10:54 AM

@JBMurtagh ... I posted the ADA standards for public walks in response to other comments re. the problem with outdoor seating areas obstructing use of public walks. This was not specific to Marion St. Cheese Market, as their outdoor seating area is not yet open. That being said, I am concerned re. MSCM's co-opting of public space for commercial use with their canopy structure, and possible quid pro quo benefits received from the S. Marion St. streetscaping project.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 10:46 AM

Observer, we give to many things a rest today, and that is why we are where we are now. Give it a rest on the 108,000 dollars for a useless report that Pope did. Give it a rest with the 250,000 dollars spent on PeopleSoft. Give it a rest on the continual spending of taxpayers money. Give it a rest and let people struggle through the Cheese Emporium sidewalk. As long as it doesn't effect you, Observer, it's alright to give it a rest. Sometimes people need to stand up for what's right.

Observer  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 9:30 AM

@Q. Point made. Give it a rest.

ref  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 9:13 AM

Q is cheesed.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 11:10 PM

I offered an opinion, that it. I then posed a question. That's it. If you don't like what I say, don't read what I post.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 7:32 PM

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois, that's right John, if you don't want to educate yourself on why the cheese emporium is being discussed, then why enter into the discussion with simple observations of the cheese emporium.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 4:22 PM

Peter from Oak Park, Pope wanted a brick street, so there is a brick street because it only took a few people to make that happen, and taxpayers are paying for it. You can't set up a permanent structure on public property, and we know the the cheese place did that. We know the village allowed it. The question is it's not for the public good. It's for business and that equals profit, and the justification above it not meeting ADA requirements, Johnson says it benefits the village.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 4:19 PM

Q - Thanks for the info, but who are to tell me to do my research?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 4:16 PM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, you certainly did your research and know the facts. Why is it that Pope and the village not do theirs? Is this a case of favoritism or is it a case of a few citizens who don't understand the requirements and that is the reason Ray Johnson will not request the board look at this? There really isn't anything to look at. It either complies or it doesn't, and you don't make concessions with permanent structures after the fact. Everything was done with village approval.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 4:09 PM

John Butch Murtagh, the other places you have mentioned did not have new sidewalks built. All new construction, sidewalks, etc., need to meet the Federally mandated guidelines which you can get from the American Disabilities Act. The only reason why it seems to be just with the cheese emporium is that business is the only business that had the opportunity to comply and they did not. Do your research and then ask not only yourself, but others why they are not complying, then call the AG's and ADA

Peter from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 3:34 PM

Kyle: Please let us know if you start the list. I'll join.

Peter from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 3:32 PM

The problem with the Cheese Market (an establishment I patronize, btw), is that they seem to be erecting a permanent structure on a public walk way. This would be illegal in any municipality that I know of, why not OP? Did CM receive a variance of some sort? Personally, I resent the looming increase in property taxes owing to the Marion ST upgrade, knowing that the pretext for it was a complete fabrication, and yet a few business will profit from it nonetheless. This is outrageous.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 3:07 PM

I am confounded about how The Cheese Factory is being challenged re space to pass through (5"ft per Enuf), when its space is much wider than Winberie and Caribu on Lake and Oak Park Avenue. There are many other restaurants in the village that have less space than the Cheese Factory. It appears that the focus is on one restaurant and that does not seem right. issue is focused on one restaurant and that does not seem fair.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 1:55 PM

Generally, a min. 5' wide clear public pathway is required, with no objects or protrusions. The ground surfaces shall be stable, firm, and slip resistant, and openings shall not allow passage of a sphere more than 1/2 inch diameter, with elongated openings placed so that the long dimension is perpendicular to the dominant direction of travel. Vertical changes of more than 1/4 inch are not permitted. Due to nonstationary tables and chairs, the pathway should be clearly marked.

Kyle  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 1:25 PM

Just my middle ground stance on the dining issue...I'd have to go back & read the law again, but I don't believe it mentions hydrants, trees, grates, etc. Part of the problem is that businesses just throw some chairs/tables up & don't have an example of what their setup *should* look like to accommodate wheelchairs/strollers/carts whatever. Some are fine, some aren't. Just some simple do's & don'ts would be helpful in guiding them.

Kyle  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 1:00 PM

Peter, I've spoken with Trustee Tucker re: Wisconsin & he specifically mentioned that some residents at the Board meeting when this comes up would be nice. I originally heard Aug which would mean I might be out of town, but now Trustee Johnson said this morning the Board usually doesn't meet in August so it may be fall. I may try to start a list or online group as we go forward.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 11:15 AM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, from the beginning or you writing about the tree grates, I thought you must be in a chair, but you are right, the same applies for baby strollers. It is very discriminating against people in chairs who have a right that is enforced by the American Disabilities Act, that tells Pope that no you can't block sidewalks. It is very discriminating and Oak Park citizens pride themselves on not being discriminating. Call the AG's and ADA's offices for their recommendations.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 11:10 AM

Peter from Oak Park, that is a very good idea of getting pictures of people trying to get through Mary Jo's cheese emporium and the place on south blvd.. Give a call to the ADA and AG's offices and let them know you believe that all people regardless of their physical limitations have the right to have access to a public sidewalk without employees and other obstacles blocking their way.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 11:06 AM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, so what you are saying is Pope was not honest in representing Oak Park for the Tiger grant because he knew Oak Park did not have the 17 million dollars and regardless he spent 108 thousand of taxpayers money? That seems to be not the person Oak Park should have representing Oak Park taxpayers, or maybe Pope knew some place he could get the 17 million dollars.

Peter from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 10:23 AM

Pictures of people in wheel chairs trying to navigate some of these tight spots would help our case with the ADA and AG's offices. Thanks, Kyle, by the way, for the update. I'm glad to know that residents turned out to let the board know of our concerns.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 9:41 AM

I am for al fresco venues on public walks. But I am against being relegated to tree grates, hydrants and curbs while pushing a double-wide stroller around Ray Johnson sipping martinis. I have no idea how those w/ wheelchairs and walkers navigate the gauntlet of tables & chairs. It is discriminatory not to be allowed a 5' wide clear passage on public walks. I often imagine plowing through with a 5-wide shovel to make this point, one already stated by VOP's Diversity Statement.

Kyle  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 7:18 AM

Re: Marion/Lake that Peter mentioned...I had a waitress nearly dump a tray of food on me there the other day trying to get it from the kitchen to the sidewalk diners. The irony is that when it was a chain (COSI) it was actually a fairly pleasant corner. We avoid DTOP more and more...Thurs night out, the outdoor dining. Interestingly, nearly all the restaurants in OP we go to on a weekly basis...none of them have outdoor dining.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 30th, 2012 7:03 AM

For the record, Pope submitted a USDOT TIGER grant application for a $43M Lake St. streetscaping project, that if awarded, would have obligated the village for $17M in matching funds. Since Pope already drained the DTOP TIF, this was $17M the village didn't have, making the grant application meaningless. Not to be deterred, Pope upped the ante and spent $108K on a planning consultant to provide design drawings to gussy up his $43M grant application, which are now of no use.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 9:36 PM

Peter from Oak Park, Oak Park and Pope are the one's who gave the permission for the places to do that. They aren't going to stop what they are doing either. To find out if what they are doing is against the fair usage of a sidewalk, you will need to call the Attorney General's and or the American Disabilities Act office.

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 9:32 PM

Basically, the RTO was installed in 1999 & has significantly reduced crashes. Even just the car counts for pedestrians & cars coming from each direction was interesting, personally. That's despite a 43% "illegal movement" rate during I wanna say evening rush. lol The discussion was actually less about the RTO & mostly about short term & longterm safety solutions to *that* intersection plus that whole stretch of Washington.

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 9:27 PM

Hi Peter, I'd link you to the commission's page on the website but the last posted minutes were April 23...& the agenda listed for Monday is actually the link to May 21. Oops. I can give the short synopsis--engineering presentation about traffic volume & accidents, resident testimony (Pleasant District rep wasn't there), they deliberated. LOTS of good data. Recommended RTO stay, crosswalk improvement, do a needs study for a traffic light (stop sign wouldn't work there).

Peter from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 8:32 PM

Hey Kyle, Do you have a link where I can read about Monday's meeting? Re the outdoor dining: It is getting out of control on South and North Marion, as well as on Lake. I am interested in hearing what can be done to combat this trend. Poor Phils' outdoor seating seems to be especially bad, leaving mere inches to pedestrians, but the sidewalk outside the bar at Marion and Lake has become difficult to maneuver as well. VOP needs to do its job and enforce our safety and access codes.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 3:54 PM

Kyle, I hope for you that the new design discussion does give you what you require for vehicle and pedestrian safety. I'm not surprised that 100's to millions get spent on studies and consulting firms ending up with the primary benefactors being someone else over the citizens of Oak Park. We as citizen's of Oak Park, should expect more from ourselves and not let what is dumped on us happen. The cheese shop should remove and redesign so pedestrians can use the sidewalk as 1st class citizens.

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 3:37 PM

(contd) As part of the process of upgrading crosswalks, a possible traffic light, and that commission wanting to study Washington in 2013, I've reached out to Pleasant District in an effort to collaborate so both residents and business can work together to find designs that work for everybody. So I'll keep you posted...but I think there needs to be more of that.

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 3:36 PM

My take, Q, is that the cramped walkway was a regrettable attempt to appease the business community & get some tax revenue while not thinking about other side-effect design factors like reduced public walkway...despite millions on upgrading the sidewalks. But I'm torn because we do have a focus elsewhere on "complete streets" & improved pedestrian safety up the street at Wisconsin/Washington was a highlight of the Transportation Commission meeting on Monday (pending Board appproval).

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 3:22 PM

Kyle, no conspiracy, but is it possible that a certain amount of outdoor seating was desired, and they could not bump out any further into the street, so someone said, go ahead and place your seating regardless of ADA and public sidewalk requirements. Just a possible reasoning to why it's like it is with good planning.

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 2:55 PM

Thanks, Dan. The real question is whether public space should have been built with that non-public purpose built in, IMO. Hey! We made it back on-topic to your editorial...kinda. lol Personally, if it's a public sidewalk, I'd like most of given over to the public. The village needs to do a little less social engineering & just fix the problems that are there, first. But, then again, I thought not going retail-only on S. Marion was the right decision.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 2:49 PM

Thank you Dan for ridding any conspiracy on the plan. It's nice that the plan encouraged the businesses to build an outdoor cafe. Did the plan also include the proper usage of the sidewalk to be used with ADA requirements? Was this well thought out plan really thought at to have the pedestrian traffic walking through the cheese shop business? You have the facts for the plan, do you have the answers why it discourages pedestrian traffic?

Q@ from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 2:45 PM

Johnson explains the waste of 108,000 dollars as saying we still needed a plan. How long will that 108 thousand dollar plan be seating, not drawing interest or invested into anything else before Johnson gets things done? Anyone who spends 108,000 dollars on a long shot, should spend only their own money not taxpayers money. Oak Park citizens should be smart enough to know what and what isn't a good investment because Pope has no idea and Johnson has bad excuses.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 2:40 PM

Folks-- Yes. The new streetscapes were designed with "bumpouts" to accommodate outdoor dining. That is not a secret. We've reported it, been talked about at meetings, been obvious in all the renderings. Since restaurants have been the big growth industry in Oak Park for 30 years, since outdoor seating has been a popular concept for 10-15 years, of course the new streetscapes incorporated that feature. Would be pretty daft if they didn't. And outside of a small number of commenters on this thread, I've never heard a negative comment about the outdoor dining options. Raise your points about liking or not liking a particular design, but give up on the conspiracy theories. These new streets were designed to encourage outdoor dining.

Mares  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 2:29 PM

In the past few years there have been a proliferation of al fresco dining areas in Oak Park. As a village, we want to encourage and keep as much businesss as possible. As an avid walker, I myself have bemoaned some of these al fresco dining areas. I am an able bodied man so it's a very minor inconvenience for me. After reading through the multiple posts here I would say that it is probably time for the village to update and make the codes more uniform.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 2:16 PM

Kyle, they sure wasn't built for a group of 20 waiting to cross the street. This was part of a plan. What can Johnson and Pope say why the sidewalks were built so big? Each step requires answers, so what were they thinking their answers would be to taxpayers? Like the 108,000 of taxpayer money, 250,000 for PeopleSoft and the list goes on, they never counted on people in Oak Park, to think and ask for explanations. They even fooled Dan at the W.J., into thinking he would get a brick street too.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 2:04 PM

Kyle, the cheese emporium didn't get away with anything. Johnson and Pope went against what is code and meeting ADA requirements. Are outdoor cafes nice? Yes, and the cheese shop has a very nice one, but they don't have the right to interfere with sidewalk traffic and neither does Johnson and Pope. It requires a call to the attorney generals and the American Disabilities Act to fine out if this really is fitting into code, and just not Oak Park's code.

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 2:02 PM

Q, you hit on something we've discussed before in my household is that the sidewalks did seem to be curiously wide in the South Marion area only to have such little amount left for public enjoyment when businesses are done with them. It seems...like they were built FOR the businesses. That couldn't be, could it? ;-)

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 2:00 PM

Non-customer from Oak Park, make a call to the American Disabilities Act and the Attorney Generals. Enough complaints, they will take notice.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 1:58 PM

Kyle, Johnson must not know facts or he lied about the village benefiting from money pulled in from the outdoor cafe at the cheese emporium. 5 feet for public access%u200B? The plan was to have an outdoor cafe for Mary Jo, that's why it's such a big sidewalk, and new construction has to be built to meet ADA requirements but Johnson and Pope don't care. Once Dan Haley gets over the kick in his pants not getting his brick street, he may want to do a story on it.

Non-customer from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 1:47 PM

Those obstructive outdoor eateries too large for the sidewalks they occupy send a clear message from the business owners: "Non-customers, you are dirt to us. Walk in the gutter where you belong!". The obstructed sidewalks are also due to the curious lack of forethought in destruction the pedestrian mall. With the majority of its space devoted to roadway and parking spaces, Marion Street is meant to be driven now, not walked.

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 1:45 PM

My impression is more along the lines of what Enuf said that places are doing what they can get away with...and then my impression of what Trustee Johnson said was that the Village doesn't want to meddle because of the taxes brought in. But I think it can be addressed, reasonably, by all parties. Limit cafes to one line of tables? Half the available sidewalk but keep the 5 ft rule? I think the cafes and pedestrians can coexist peacefully with some work. lol

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 1:43 PM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, if Pope had his own 108 thousand dollars to invest into buying a chance to winning millions, would he do it? If he would, he certainly wouldn't be the one who should be spending others money.

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 1:42 PM

Just b/c my kids were napping, I decided to look up some Village Code. lol I dunno...the section on restaurant tables on the sidewalk is decent but I'd say "needs work." 5 ft must be remaining to use, no parking on the street adjacent, no more than a 5000 vehicle count. It says nothing about seasonality of the tables. It does mention bollards. The permit is $50 plus .50 per sq ft...I think that should be higher, personally. Maybe what we need is more of a "model" for some uniformity of practice?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 1:39 PM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, that is exactly correct what Johnson and Pope were betting on. A few complaints to the AG's and ADA will lead into an investigation to find out if the citizens trust in the elected board officials has been mis-used. Certainly some of the other expenses certainly seem to be out of line.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 1:32 PM

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois, you are right, it should be brought to code, but it won't unless the ADA and State take a look at it, and let them determine if it's in violation.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 1:30 PM

Kyle, the board can start setting standards right now. Remove the permanent structure and set it up as a temporary outdoor cafe living the outside of the sidewalk for people to access. Ray Johnson won't make that happen simply because it shows he and the rest were wrong, and people know that, and by not removing it, they are wrong two times, and of course with almost everything else they have wasted taxpayers money on.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 1:27 PM

Patricia O'Shea, you have the right understanding of what it's like. Now imagine people in wheels chairs wanting to access the sidewalk but needing to go through and interrupt the employees going back and forth over the public sidewalk to serve their customers. There was no consideration give by Ray Johnson and the rest. It's also the same with people walking through and people pushing baby strollers. It's just not fair usage of a public sidewalk. Everything starts with a little something...

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 12:50 PM

The Village Code is not clear re. canopies, as one has to cross-reference sections pertaining to awnings, signs, sidewalks, outdoor areas, zoning and building code standards. Any good lawyer can argue for any interpretation as so desired. Therefore, establishments such as MSCM have become bolder in co-opting public space for private gain, constructing permanent structures that appear closer to a building addition than an incidental and temporary canopy structure.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 12:30 PM

At the March 3 board meeting re. the $108K planning contract, Trustee Salzman raised the possibility of not being awarded the TIGER grant once $108K was already expended. Pope responded that $108K was a relatively small amount of money compared to the opportunity of being awarded a TIGER grant. I wonder how much $108K is worth relative to not being awarded the grant? I await Pope, Johnson, Lueck and Brewer to explain risk management concerning the use of public funds.

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 11:58 AM

I would also add that I think no permanent structures should be allowed on the public sidewalks with the exception of a railing to separate from pedestrian traffic. Poor Phils, for instance, takes their railing down in the winter. My problem with them is the narrow space left for walking. But I also think the businesses themselves should be getting together to remind each other to be courteous. The village shouldn't have to be their mom reminding them of good manners. lol

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 11:51 AM

If I were doing the theoretical review I'm talking about there are a few standards I'd consider...not having the "thru" be between seating & the building, for one. Making sure there is enough room for a motorized wheelchair to navigate corners is another. Enough clearance to let 2 people pass each other without having to give way. There could be workarounds though...maybe sidewalk cafe on only one side of the street? I'm open to whatever solves the problem.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 11:42 AM

Trustee Johnson, "... but now we can and should move forward with a much more scaled back (and less costly) plan." Most OP residents have done renovations on there homes or property. They all seem to use the same approach. 1)They envision what they want to do, 2)get or create a broad estimate of the cost, 3) Check their resources to see if they are in the ballpark, 4) If yes; create some concept drawings, 5)review them with a contractor, 6) get a contractor(s) estimate, 7)check with a bank or financial advisor on whether the project is a good investment, 8) recheck resources,9)discuss the project a lot with family and friends. 9) get architectural drawing, 10) finalize plans with the builder 10) review entire project with bank or investors. Note the architectural drawings come late in the process. Also you have no resources to ballpark or recheck. Residents are not gamblers. The Yes voting board members should be apologizing for wasting $108,000, not trying to rationalizing their dream.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 11:07 AM

Hi Kyle - Being an urban guy, I did not find the path through the canopy to be an obstacles to pedestrians. But if there is an ordinance or zoning violation, then it should the canopy should be brought in line with village standards.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 11:01 AM

The OP Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Pope, Johnson, Lueck, and Brewer) were the four Yes Tiger votes. Trustee Johnson in his post referred to them as the board. That's not completely true. Trustees Hedges, Tucker, and Salzman voted against the $108,000 gamble. The three all stated that they required more information on the plan and wanted resident input. How quaint of the three to expect well thought out plans and to expect worthwhile input from citizens. The OP Tiger is out. Call the Casino and tell the Horsemen to prepare for battle.

mimi  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 10:48 AM

It is ugly and I would be discouraged to walk through it. If you are walking Westbound on South Boulevard, here do you go? Across the street where there isn't a sidewalk? In the scheme of things, it isn't huge, but it is ugly and I don't know why they didn't go with a temporary structure. I wonder if the bricks were cheaper.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 10:43 AM

I'm torn on the cheese structure. It looks good and I would like to dine there, but I would feel kind of weird walking through it. From the look I think it would feel like you were walking through someone's living room. I guess in the grand scheme of nutso decisions in Oak Park, this is small peanuts. An annoyance, but not the end of the world...especially if you don't walk there much.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 10:09 AM

Ray Johnson, obviously Enuf is Enuf easily got around to know that Mary Jo's permanent structure is permanent. How did that happen Ray Johnson? Is this something that just made it past all departments without anyone knowing about it? If you would like, I'm sure many people on here can remind you of all the wasted taxpayers money you have spent with Pope and the other board members.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 10:06 AM

Ray Johnson, lets just forget about the way the Tiger grant was handled. I like that, just put the problem aside and take no blame since it was not reviewed by the board. Who was it handled by, Pope? Why don't you answer Enuf is Enuf, with a real answer instead of just putting it aside? Because you know Pope, you and the rest took more of taxpayers money and you just don't care because you are gambling each time that something may work out. That is not good business.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 9:22 AM

Was not a Capital Improvement Plan provided to the board when considering the $48M Lake St. plan? As for the public, the CIP was removed from the village website, and is no longer available at OPPL. Why is that? Also, it is accepted practice to coordinate water/sewer improvements with street improvements, so as to avoid the cost of tearing up streets in good condition. Please explain why are you advocating a Lake St. streetscaping project contrary to accepted practice?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 9:10 AM

@RayJohnson: The MSCM canopy is in question due to its permanence as a structure. Papaspiros' 6-wide canopy is used solely for protection against the elements at the main entrance. Cucina Paradiso's canopy structure is bolted onto the conc. walk, and an easily disassembled and temporary structure. The massive brick bases of MSCM's structure penetrate through the slate pavement, suggesting a permanent structure, and therefore a building addition, not a canopy.

@RAYJAY  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 9:09 AM

most of the sewers under the oak park streets are 100 years old. i walk and drive in DT OP. and the streets are fine in comparison to the rest of the village streets and alleys. stop making things up as you go along, it is unbecoming of you to tell half truths to the voters/taxpayers. How are the sewers in NE OP? oh that is right it is the homeowners problem.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 9:09 AM

@ Enuf: re: street rankings. I don't have the report at my fingertips, but my recollection is that 60-70% of our streets were rated good or excellent. Importantly, the condition of the street isn't reflective of the condition of the underground water/sewer lines.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 9:07 AM

@ Enuf: Very fair question....Put aside the problems with the way the TIGER Grant was handled, in that the full board never reviewed the grant prior to submittal, it was a grant application which was a "full blown" plan that would have taken nearly every element from Marion St. and carried it forward through the rest of DTOP and The Hemingway District. The grant may have allowed for that kind of expense, but now we can and should move forward with a much more scaled back (and less costly) plan.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 8:53 AM

@RayJohnson: 1) The VOP Capital Improvement Plan ranks downtown Lake St. as in 'Good' condition, better than over 60% of village streets ranked 'Very Poor', 'Poor' or 'Fair'. 2) The proposed Lake St. streetscape plan costs $48M. Where are the funds for this? 3) The village paid $108K for a planning consultant solely to enhance their USDOT TIGER grant application. Now we are left with a $108K beautification plan for a $48M project the village can't aff

Kyle  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 8:07 AM

John, the problem isn't the look. The issue is who gets to use the sidewalk. Is it public? Or private use for business? Where do you draw the line? I want to "eat local" but I also want my local businesses to not be so insensitive to neighborhood access. It sets up an attitude of hostility everytime somebody tries to walk by...IMO the Village needs to set some standards & I'd support examining the issue before next outdoor dining season.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 8:00 AM

@ Enuf: I said at the time of my yes vote on the $108,000 contract with Lakota that whether or not we received the grant, we needed an implementation plan created for the Lake St. and OP Ave. business districts. The 100 year old water/sewer lines are going to need to be replaced and the question has to be answered with regard to what goes on top -- from streetscape design to engineering. Anyone walking/driving down Lake/OP Ave. knows upgrades are necessary, so the money was not 'gambled away'.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 12:43 AM

Like I said John Butch Murtagh, if you are writing about elections, you do well. Get into a wheel chair, push a baby stroller, or walk with a few friends through Mary Jo's cheese emporium during a busy time that may still be possible to occur. That structure is a permanent structure built on public land. It looks nice but there are a lot of other things that would appeal to you if they weren't against village code.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 12:34 AM

I drove by the Cheese Shop today and expected to see a horror case. Instead, I saw a great example of using public paths to attract business, offer a unique (in OP) dining experience, and bring people to the village. I think it enhances the building the entire business area look better. It is the type contemporary design that OP needs. I congratulate the architectural team for the design and the restaurant owners for having the guts to step out of the box.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 12:28 AM

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois, always like your writing when it pertains to the reckless use of taxpayers money and the election year.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 12:26 AM

There will be a "Tiger" loose in Oak Park later this year when the 2013 Village elections heat up! Any chance that we can cut the drawings into little pieces and sell them to cover the 108,000?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 12:26 AM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, everyone knows it was Pope, but Pope thinks no one pays attention, and he can continue going along with his selections of where he wants to spend taxpayers money.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 29th, 2012 12:25 AM

Kyle, that's a good idea, but the reactions to citizens concerns is the same Pope shows at board meetings. Ray Johnson was correct about other sidewalk cafe's but the Greek restaurant on Lake Street, has the access on the outside, not requiring anyone using the public sidewalk to disrupt the workers. The one on North Blvd., which access is difficult enough does require anyone walking on what should be a sidewalk requires disrupting the workers. Mary Jo's cheese store has a permanent structure.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 10:22 PM

On June 22, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation awarded nearly $500M from the TIGER 2012 program to 47 projects in 34 states. The Village of Oak was not one of these projects. The good news is that Oak Park is not obligated to provide $17M in matching funds. The bad news is that the village expended $108,000 on a planning consultant to prepare brick streetscaping plans in the event they were awarded TIGER funds. Who gambled with $108,000 of our money with nothing to show for it?

Kyle  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 2:32 PM

Thank you for replying, Ray. I've stated before I think this largely falls on businesses to be good citizens and do the right thing, but I think the public needs a place to take complaints. Even if it's just the clerk's office saying "hey, somebody had trouble getting through maybe you should move a table or two." The public shouldn't have to contact each & every business with narrow access. But it's also about customers to other shops losing revenue to sidewalk clutter.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 2:28 PM

Ray Johnson, I know we all like to build for the future of Oak Park, so imagine South Blvd., and Marion street being a very busy walkway, at least that is all the hopes of business people who encourage that. How would it be for Mary Jo's business to be blocking potential shoppers? When that happens, it will be called grandfather ed in, and it won't be required to be removed, and she will or the next owner will be fighting the village for their rights to maintain the structure.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 2:26 PM

Ray Johnson, I have nothing against sidewalk cafes or even the 5 million dollars worth of taxpayers money to build that street, it is all very nice. As a matter of fact, Mary Jo's outdoor cafe is very nice. If it wasn't for the fact of people in chairs or pedestrians who have to cross through a private business that takes up all of the sidewalk, except where Mary Jo needs her employees to walk around and citizens to pass by, it would not be an issue.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 2:23 PM

Ray Johnson, I don't think you have really took note of what the ADA requirements say, or the use of public property for private businesses. You allowed this private business to set down a permanent structure that extends to the street and although no one likes to admit a mistake, it's alright because we all make them. Maybe I have made a mistake in understanding the usage of the cheese store sidewalk, but I may have not, and you would be embarrassed if you did and had to tell Mary Jo, remove it

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 2:20 PM

Ray Johnson from Oak Park, the others that I have visited do not require people to go through a private business to access the other side of the business back onto the public sidewalk. You do have a good suggestion about crossing the street, but in that area, and anyone in a wheelchair, would not be the safest. If your cheese cafe did not require people to walk or wheel through a private business to on a public sidewalk this would not be an issue. Not any other cafe I have I mentioned.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 2:14 PM

@ Q: How many? Several as I noted in my previous post. Walking through an active business? Again, several. Blocked sidewalks? See previous post regarding ADA requirements and if you are aware of an issue, contact the Clerk's office. One final point -- if al fresco dining really bothers you this much, just cross the street to avoid it.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 2:11 PM

@ Kyle: If anyone believes the access for the public is limited due to encroachment(per ADA requirements there are minimum standards an establishment must keep open), please let the Clerk's office know at clerk@oak-park.us and someone will take a measurement. The establishment will be required to adjust tables or chairs to ensure sufficient public access.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 1:17 PM

Ray Johnson, well said. Now how many of those restaurants have permanent structures on public sidewalks? How many require people to walk through an active business to access the sidewalks? How much do you really receive to block tax payers sidewalks and if you do receive enough money, why don't you share in the revenues since you are asking taxpayers to give up their public sidewalk so you can increase the sales for Mary Jo, and the cheese shop? Your reply doesn't answer the obvious.

Kyle  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 1:15 PM

Ray, what if a business is making it difficult to walk through the area though? A few names have been mentioned, but I won't go there. But the public has a right to the sidewalk. Does the Village have a process for addressing access/clearance issues? I, for one, don't mind outdoor dining, but we need space for wheelchairs, strollers, dogs on leashes to get through, etc..

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 1:12 PM

(contd)....This Trustee is not going to be asking for a review by the Village board, as I believe staff has followed the goal and intent of our local ordinances. On a seperate point, no one should get "special treatment" and it doesn't appear that the Cheese Market has received anything outside of what some other establishments have. Further, we should applaud (rather than attack), local business owner's goals to expand opportunities for customers and in turn, for the Village as a whole.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 1:08 PM

A few facts worth noting: Outdoor dining is 'incidental' to many Oak Park restaurants, as it allows for expanded seating during peak times. Establishments pay for the outdoor seating section themselves; no Village funds are used for construction. Several restaurants have substantial outdoor seating areas: Cucina Paradiso, Viccolo Trattoria, Papaspiros, Kinderhook Tap, and many more. Village staff support local business goals for expanded sales, and in turn expanded sales taxes for the VOP.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 11:18 AM

Enuf is Enuf, Mary Jo and her cheese shop is an illegal structure if I interpreted the village code language regarding canopies. Enuf is Enuf, if this is true, wouldn't this be an opportunity for a small newspaper to uncover wrong doings in a village known throughout the World? This just can't be true, Enuf is Enuf. There must be something else that gives Mary Jo the right to use the public sidewalk.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 9:55 AM

Canopy (part 1): As per Village Code (22-10-2), "The use of sidewalks for support of canopies shall only be permitted incidental to the operation of a club, hotel, motel, restaurant, apartment or condominium development on private contiguous property."

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 9:55 AM

Canopy (part 3): Given the fact that canopies are only permitted that are 'incidental' to the operation of a restaurant, and the example provided is a small canopy that provides protection from the elements at the main entrance, it appears the massive canopy at Marion St. Cheese Market is contrary to the intent of the Village Code. Since the President and Board of Trustees are to review the plans for any new canopy and submit a report, I would request a copy of said report.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 9:54 AM

Canopy (part 2): As per Village Code's (7-7-3), the definition of a canopy is, "Any structure, movable or stationary, attached to and deriving its support from the side of a building or structure for the purpose of shielding a platform, stoop or sidewalk from the elements", and provides photo of the Papaspiros canopy as an example.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2012 9:54 AM

Canopy (part 3): Given the fact that canopies are only permitted that are 'incidental' to the operation of a restaurant, and the example provided is a small canopy that provides protection from the elements at the main entrance, it appears the massive canopy at Marion St. Cheese Market is contrary to the intent of the Village Code. Since the President and Board of Trustees are to review the plans for any new canopy and submit a report, I would request a copy of said report.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 5:50 PM

Oak Park board members have a voting bond that is a disservice to the village. A member can argue with gusto against a proposal or part of a proposal and then vote for it. The vote against ones own viewpoint for the sake of board unity is a fraud. It is important that the public have a sense of the board's decision and a No vote is the loudest indicator that a board member is communication with us -- letting us know that dissent exists. I really miss Galen Gockel. He always voted his viewpoint not the majority's.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 4:54 PM

Dan.. Cont... Firstly, you will be standing up for the under dog; the taxpayer. That's always good to have public support of course it doesn't last as long as political clout, which you now realize you don't have. You can gain real clout by exposing what has been taking taxpayers money and using it on whatever they want. Start small, start with the cheese shop. Once you get Pope and his cronies to do the right thing, you will then know you really do have clout, and it's with your public.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 4:51 PM

Dan.. Cont... Show these elites that they are all about themselves. You can do this by having some of your own elite reporters go out and find out how the cheese shop was aloud to build a permanent structure on a public sidewalk and the lack of proper sidewalk accessibility. Do you think you will lose any political support? That may be your first thought but think of it this way.... Cont....

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 4:49 PM

Dan, you feel like you were duped because you did the best you could to support Pope and his cronies to make the Marion street into what it is, and you thought you were going to get your share. Well it didn't turn out that way because they ran out of money for your fair share of the pie. You are right, there are lots of store's vacant but you do have that nice restaurant across the street. What you need is to get into Mary Jo's pocket, but what does she need from you? So here is an idea.. Cont..

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 4:46 PM

Mares from River Forest Cont... Because someone donates or starts an organization, which in itself has a lot of advantages when you want politicians on your side, doesn't mean it entitles anyone to special treatment of any kind, and especially when tax payers are being taken advantage of. If her niece uses a chair, it is not a pleasant experience going through the center of a business trying to access a sidewalk. Mares, can I have a bar b que on your lawn if I help better someone else?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 4:46 PM

Mares from River Forest, my goodness, that Mary Jo is such a wonderful person to help out with giving money but that has nothing to do with her business at Marion and South Blvd.. Research and find the majority of charitable organizations start by people who they themselves or a close family member has been effected by what the organization is about. Cont....

Bluestone Blunder from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 4:05 PM

I have to agree with Dan. I support the retail-only restrictions as a major quality of life issue. The abundance of walkable retail was a big part of what drew me to Oak Park two decades ago. But South Marion has been a retail dead zone beyond resuscitation for years. Perhaps there may still be hope for South Park Ave, but this stupendous blunder and epic waste of our public money in what was clearly the wrong part of town will make it that much harder to achieve.

Ha  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 2:58 PM

Maybe the Journal should find a new home on newly redone S Marion St. After all George's could use another doubling in their size.

Mares from River Forest  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 2:42 PM

@ Q. http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/08-10-2010/Good-hearted_capitalist

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 11:47 AM

Enuf is Enuf, any ideas on how to spot this illegal practice against the citizens of Oak Park? A call to the ADA? It's outright discrimination against everyone. It is not her sidewalk. Try making a canopy from your homes roof to the street. You know you would not be allowed to do that. The cheese place is saying we do what we want, because we have the power. What power? Her power is no one is contesting what she and Pople have done to taxpayers. Taxpayers have built her a brick street.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 11:44 AM

Enuf is Enuf, then it was Mary Jo Shuler who made this project happen, and all of the time the village knew Marion street was not going to be a mix of other businesses, so Pope has duped the tax payers once again. It is not a legal structure. It is not free public access. You have to walk between tables and servers. This is not correct for ADA compliance. The current operators of the village don't care, and it's the money of the taxpayers that once again has been taken to profit their friends.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 11:05 AM

The Marion St. Cheese Market permanent canopy structure in question is attached to the bldg. and extends over the entire 20' width of public walk to 5 steel columns, covering an area about 600 sf. The brick column bases are so massive they actually cut through the slate sidewalk. As president of the Peasant District, Marion St. Cheese Market owner Mary Jo Shuler was a chief advocate of the $5.4M S. Mario Quid pro quo?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2012 10:43 AM

Has anyone gone by the cheese place at Marion and South blvd.? The village used tax payers money to build the 5 million dollar street and gave the cheese store the right to build on the public sidewalk. Are taxpayers sharing in the profits? Stop by the cheese shop and ask for your share of the profits.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: June 26th, 2012 11:33 PM

This is simple. There is no strategy. What you're seeing is shooting from the hip. And the majority of members of this board are fighting to stay relevant...and elected.

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