Federal grant overlooks Oak Park again

Village's third attempt at $26 million TIGER Grant doesn't pan out

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Oak Park missed out for the third time but Village President David Pope said he was "cautiously optimistic" on the fourth round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.

The list, announced June 22, named 47 projects in 34 states and Washington D.C., which will receive part of the $500 million available during the TIGER 2012 program. Oak Park had sought a $26 million chunk of the $43 million project the village is planning.

The Oak Park project involves linking three downtown business districts to one another as well as two train stations. It includes a number of streetscape projects to help "realize a compelling, economically vibrant, and livable downtown center" according to the village's application, which would connect people to goods, services and jobs.

The plan, said to unify a 30-block area, would build upon other infrastructure projects the village has invested in, helping to achieve its goals for development across the districts.

Instead, village officials must look back to see what projects can be tackled without the extra funding from the federal government.

"We'll have an opportunity to check in with the Department of Transportation on how it was evaluated and how [Oak Park's application] stacked up with other proposals," Pope said, noting the U.S. DOT's commitment to investing in infrastructure throughout the country. "Obviously it was a tremendously competitive proposal."

Pope said the feedback received was "tremendously positive," but he understands that there's been a push for projects of larger scope, such as the CTA's Red Line expansion, which connects more people to resources.

He thinks it's critical to push toward investing in areas surrounding transit stations to "attract new residential and commercial investment."

"It is, in fact, cheaper for the public sector and for society to help bring new jobs and investment to existing transit infrastructure rather than the other way around," he said. "If we can advance proposals like those included in the village's TIGER application, … we can strengthen our ability to support businesses that require access to advancing technology offerings."

According to the grant application, Oak Park's Greater Downtown Master Plan and retail studies conclude that "significant efficiencies and opportunities could be realized by establishing linkages and common characteristics across the three districts."

Overall, the Inner-Ring Renaissance Project, the name designated by the village, would extend the ground streetscape improvements on North and South Marion through the remainder of the district to achieve the village's goal.

The elements of the project include replacing deteriorated underground infrastructure; reconstructing streetscapes using appealing, durable hardscape materials; expanding sidewalks and pedestrian areas and speed tables; increase bicycle parking; reducing intersection crosswalk distances; enhance pedestrian-level lighting; adding public seating; adding more plaza space and sidewalk landscape area; and connecting the downtown area with multimodal transit options.

As for the other TIGER grant applicants, two Illinois projects were awarded funding — the 95th Street terminal expansion project to repair and update bus terminals and stations, and the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Project, a public-private partnership to improve freight flows through the Chicago region. Collectively, the two were awarded roughly $30 million.

Trustee Ray Johnson said he was a bit stumped as to why Oak Park didn't make the cut.

"I believed based upon the input of the village president that we were in a very strong position to receive some funds," Johnson said. "I don't believe we would receive them all. … This is our second or third bite of that apple. We need to move forward and prioritize our investments in the community."

Regardless of federal funding, he said, the village has many projects, such as its 100-year-old waterlines, that need upgrading. Receiving grant dollars would have streamlined the projects, but Johnson said it's time to reevaluate.

"That's the ultimate question: How does that change our approach?" Johnson asked. "We are obviously very sensitive of our taxpayers. We are well aware of increases from other areas that have impacted residents."

But the work isn't going away, he emphasized.

"I'm disappointed that so much time and effort was spent for multiple grants, multiple times," Johnson said. He believes the process should have been run by the board earlier. "Certainly the village board was not strongly engaged. We didn't find out about the grant application until it was submitted. That was a process that cannot happen again."

Now, however, Johnson wants to look forward and have discussions on making investments using the village's own resources. For example, he'd like to see more focus on South Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street.

"That's where we are going to need to have some discussions. That's a lost opportunity that we didn't move forward with investing that was discussed about a year and half ago," he said. "We don't have that capacity within the TIF but the work still needs to be done."

Contact:
Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 1:20 PM

Fiduciary Responsibility (Duty) and OP - I searched to OP Website and the Village Code and did not find a reference to "Fiduciary Responsibilities/Duty." That does not mean it is not there, it means I could not find it. A fiduciary duty means "holding in trust". It is a legal or ethical relationship of confidence or trust between two or more parties. That is; the trust between the elected board and the public. Robert Wechsler, author of Local Government Ethics Programs, states, Government officials and employees have special obligations, sometimes referred to as a fiduciary duty, that require them to consider the effects of their conduct on the public's trust that its government is acting in the interest of the community rather than in the personal interest of its officials. That is, fiduciary responsibility in government is an obligation that goes beyond the normal responsibilities of a trustee. I raise this issue because trust and financial accountability are symbiotic. When there is uncertainty on the part of residents that their tax dollars are being used appropriately, trust is at risk. Hundreds of questions on Oak Park spending practices remain unanswered. That in itself is a violation of the board's fiduciary responsibility.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 12:55 PM

OP Taxpayer, it would be best of the board learned that property values have declined for the last few years, and adjust the tax rate.

OP Taxpayer  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 10:49 AM

Even though the Village budget has shrunk, the pile of tax dollars has not. The Village is spending less, but not asking for less. Taxes such as transfer taxes and sales taxes may be down but the hand asking for a chunk of your property taxes has not changed. I say when times get good again, lower the portion you ask for from the residents!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 11:38 PM

John Butch Murtagh, I'm in full agreement, and I think people just have the attitude of they village knows what they are doing, but we know that is not true. The village is taking money base on home values that are no longer present. It's not their money, and they enjoy spending it on things they like, not what benefits the people they were suppose to represent. Yes, they need to be voted out, but that is still several months away. They can still spend a lot and set a lot of things in motion.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 6:14 PM

What is the common issue in Oak Park? I received my tax bill and it declined by about 20%. Is that a good thing? I think not. The appraisal of my house has declined by about 50%. I am amazed that a community like Oak Park either doesn't notice the decline in the value of their property and the overall decline in the village's property value. Do we believe the loss of our assets is worth the joy of living in the village or do we just not care. Everyone rich or poor should be demanding a full consolidated accounting of the village's 21st Century expenditures and a balance sheet of assets and debts. If the local governments continue to refuse transparency, we need to vote them out. OP elections are no longer about politics. It is about our having the right to know where our money is going and why our housing values are in such deep decline.

John Murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 4:11 PM

Thanks, Horseman.

One of the Horseman from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 4:04 PM

For John and others: The Oak Leaves calendar is not current. And to confirm, there is no Village Board meeting tonight.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 2:42 PM

John Butch Murtagh, I'm sure Pope and Johnson are working out the possibles and if one of them means Johnson would lose his seat if he didn't win, then they will just put him back into that seat as if nothing happened and the only thing that will happen is a few blogs on here about how did that happen? Independent committee is required to clean up the mess, and inform the tax payers including when special meetings are. I would select you, Kyle, OPRFDAD, and Enuf is Enuf to be on the committee.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 2:18 PM

I think the VMA has a dilemna. If Pope chooses not to run for another term, Johnson would be the VMA's 1st choice for the position. Even if he lost the race for President, they would retain their favorite son on the board (This is; if I am correct that he does not have to resign his seat to run for Pres.) Focusing on Pope and Johnson creates the possibility that nothing changes. That is the worst scenario for the village. The problem with the board is not just Pope and Johnson. It is the Four Horesman of the Apocalypse (Pope, Johnson Lueck, and Brewer). All four vote together are a road block to change. Lueck and Brewer's seats are up for vote in 2013. If both get reelected, and another VMA candidate (new) wins, the village will again have gridlock.

Kyle  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 2:07 PM

OPRFDad, I couldn't get behind a spending cap b/c, frankly, we have a TON of repair work that needs to happen. But we do need to get creative about the budget. I have been saying we need to put some of our spending to popular vote about where we want to see improvements. You & I have some common ground there, at least. Needless to say, my vote for attention would go to some of the more blighted areas of OP though.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 2:04 PM

I agree with Enuf's analysis. One notable fact. It is my understanding that Trustee Johnson can run for President without risking his trustee seat which would have two years left. Would appreciate someone in the know telling me if I am wrong on this.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 2:02 PM

Enuf - great tracking of the strange goings on in DTOP development. It supports my view that we need a moratorium on all development planning until the entire plan process and the financial status of the village is put on the tabled for independent review.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 1:59 PM

Assuming the VMA transition proceeds from Pope to RayJ, there isn't much difference between them re. economic policy. Both receive support from VMA, which receives support from downtown interests and responds accordingly to their needs. The problem for VMA is twofold; their recent economic policy has mostly failed, and their TIF pot of gold is gone. RayJ needs to somehow separate himself from Pope and take care of downtown interests for the first time since 1983 w/o TIF funds.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 1:58 PM

Oak Park / River Forest Community Calendar (Oak Leaves) shows that there is an OP Village Board Special Meeting tonight from 7-9. There is no info on the OP website about a meeting, but no cancellation notice either. Does anyone know if there is a meeting tonight and what the subject is?

OPRFDad  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 1:54 PM

I'd like to see the Village impose a spending cap. Come up with an annual number, say some fraction of what it has actually spent over the last 10 years, and allow it to be inflation adjusted year-over-year. Any spending in excess of the spending cap would require a supermajority of actual voters to approve, or a simple majority of all OP voters. Let's start living within our means.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 1:30 PM

Enuf is Enuf, Let's say Raymond wins to be president of the board. Would Raymond do the same as Pope? They all follow the same direction. An independent committee would be able to let the citizens know what the board is doing. If the citizens approve to toss someone off the board, then the board member has to leave. Would you be in favor of an independent committee?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 1:20 PM

@Q ... Who is doing all of this? It appears the streetscaping concept originated with Pope, who got Barwin to direct his staff accordingly while bypassing the board. Pope, in turn, misrepresented the justification for his streetscaping concept by claiming unified downtown districts and a palette of bricks, slate and granite were recommended by the 2005 Greater Downtown Master Plan, which is false. Perception becomes reality, and project proceeds along w/o any checks and balances.

Kyle  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 12:40 PM

If the village had gone through, say, 5 business districts & done analysis to rank them in order of necessary improvements...we'd be having a completely different conversation. When will those other worthy areas receive attention? IMO you can do the same for residential. The engineer had great data for us on crashes & traffic flow at our intersection. I'm guessing we have a list of vacant storefronts. Why not use all that info to our advantage to prioritize? DTOP is doing far better than others.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 12:22 PM

Enuf is Enuf, who is doing all of this? There can only be a few possibilities. Pope, Village Manager or Johnson? This is why a new citizens committee needs to be established to make sure the public knows who and what the village board is doing.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 12:17 PM

As far as I know, there has never been formal board approval to proceed with any design development re. Lake St. streetscaping. Despite this, design drawings were commissioned in 2010, a TIGER grant application was submitted in March 2012 that obligated the village for $17M, more design drawings ($108K) were commissioned in March 2012, and now a streetscaping committee formed to provide design recommendations. With what authority is this project proceeding and being funded?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 12:08 PM

John Butch Murtagh, there needs to be a new committee put together that has the responsibility of watching what each board member is doing with tax payer money. They will gather facts and determine if what the board wants to do is good for Oak Park. All reports from the committee will be made public on the internet.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 11:37 AM

Enuf & Q - My view is that there should be a moratorium on all new developments until the board has a clear and concise strategy on development in Oak Park and a specific and comprehensive identification of post TIF collapse funding. I am particularly opposed to the recent approach of using Fed grants as the determinant in village choices of which projects are done and unproven sewer repairs to panic the public into providing support. I do not believe that any of the board members are anti-development, but that Hedges, Tucker, and Salzman have shown their unwillingness to embrace fiscal irresponsibility to accelerate DTOP projects. Frankly, I dismiss the village's revenue projections for the South Marion and Tiger projects as dubious. Why would I support their financial projections when they have a twenty-year history of sloppy bookkeeping, bad forecasts, and deceptive financing processes. As far as the votes to appoint a committee to review and comment on the Dakota Plan, it is likely that a public review of the Dakota Plan is a prerequisite to submitting a Tiger Grant. It is a perfunctory committee that does not cost a penny. I would prefer that a grant application not be made, but it is clear that the board has the votes to move forward. You would have to ask Hedges, Tucker, and Salzman why they voted for the committee.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 10:51 AM

John Butch Murtagh, it seems the Funklualator was correct. Read Enuf is Enuf's data on Salzman along with Tucker and Hedges. They all voted in favor of the Lake street waste of money. Would you still like to give Salzam more time to show his abilities? You are going to learn on a lot more wasted tax dollars.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 10:47 AM

Salzman, Tucker & Hedges, answer Enuf is Enuf's question. Tax payers want to know what changed your mind?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 10:19 AM

@JBMurtagh ... yes, on May 9, 2010, Salzman, Tucker & Hedges voted against streetscaping improvements for S. Marion and Oak Park Ave., despite being told by CFO Lesner the DTOP TIF would have an ending balance of $25.5M in cash and land assets. Then again on May 14, 2012, Salzman, Tucker & Hedges voted against the $108K contract with Lakota for design drawings re. $43M Lake St. streetscaping, despite being informed the village would likely receive a $26M USDOT TIGER grant.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 10:18 AM

cont. ... fast forward to July 2, 2012. TIF funds no longer exist and VOP was denied the $26M TIGER grant. Despite this new economic reality and their previous votes, why would Salzman, Tucker & Hedges vote to proceed with the Lake St. streetscaping project, by forming a committee comprised of the same advocates for streetscaping improvements at S. Marion and Oak Park Ave.? Rather than seizing an opportunity for leadership, they yielded to the status quo of DTOP interests.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 9:39 PM

Q - We'll see.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 4:06 PM

John Butch Murtagh, checked it again and it is the Funklualator. I verified with the company and they sent out a sales rep who put the data in and the results were the same, and the rep said that the results will be the same with Salzman. By the way, you have a good name, J.B.M..

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 3:48 PM

Q - Check the box the Funktualator came in. I think you got the Flunkulator by mistake. How else do you explain "...following the example of Pope and Johnson" at the end of your post?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 3:35 PM

John Butch Murtagh, the Instamatic Analyzer purchase cost our company 250,000 dollars obviously rendering results that are useless so we have moved forward to purchase the new Funktualator, without the boards approval to. It's the latest machine that makes all decisions for board members without any responsibility to them. Inputting the same data the results say Salzman will learn in time how to handle taxpayers money following the examples of Pope and Johnson.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 12:52 PM

Q - You need to power up the Model #29387 Instamatic Analyzer and add a couple of new factors re Salzman. 1) Salzman is completing his first year on the board and it has been a crazy, tumultuous year. Experience counts on a board and more time is needed to judge. 2) In his first month as a board member he and Tucker voted against The Marion Bricks. In the ninth month, both voted against Tiger 3 - the $108,000 gamble. Compare Salzman experience and willingness to take strong stances on controversial issues to the near 10 year terms of Pope and Johnson.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 11:10 AM

alzman and Johnson, difference between you both, and Pope, you both need facts you want to analyze. Pope, on the other hand, tosses taxpayers dollars out like a pair of dice. I've taken all accomplishments of Salzman, Johnson and Pope, placed them inside the Model #29387 Instamatic Analyzer and the results are in. Salzman, Johnson and Pope, it says you are wrong for Oak Park, and you can't disagree with facts or the Model #29387 Instamatic Analyzer.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 10:13 AM

1. Trustee Salzman: your amended resolution did not include any requirement for alternative plans, price points, or menu of options. It simply stated, "Be it further resolved that the Downtown Districts Streetscape Committee shall provide two progress reports to the board based on what specific streetscape options are being considered prior to presenting to the board with its final recommendation." If you wanted these items, they should have been included in the resolution.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 10:12 AM

2. I share the same concerns as those expressed by Trustee Lueck, who stated, "I am concerned that you form a committee with no parameters around what it is their budget is, so that they will come back with recommendations, but they will have spent a lot of time and effort into creating the different scenarios, and maybe get very wedded into what those scenarios are, with no idea what dollars are to support any of those scenarios."

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 10:12 AM

3. Lueck cont.; "It makes more sense for the board to actually have had that discussion ahead of time, about what are the essential things we have to do, where would we consider funding for those things, and what are the things put in the optional category, so the committee has some framework to work from, as opposed to whatever they think would work." The board has provided no direction to the committee. When you ask for alternative plans, I am asking alternatives to what?

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 9:08 AM

Ok, let me try my best here to address the full range of comments before closing my IPad so my family doesn't completely lose their tempers with me. (1)Kyle, if it's about "how and what" then I think we have a lot of common ground--I too think the question is "how and what" re: DTOP- specifically, "how do we pay for it" and "what is most likely to produce a return on investment." (2) John, the GM reference is not a comparison, so much as an example of making a policy decision and designating an economic priority when there is significant evidence on both sides being used to bolster the respective arguments of proponents and detractors. Patricia's right about the amount of analysis that went into the decision on the auto bailout. There was also a great deal of analysis and argument for the opposite course of action--remember Mitt Romney's NY Times OpEd "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt"? My point is that conclusive "proof" is rarely if ever available prior to making the decision. That's not to discount the importance of evidence and analysis leading to an informed, intelligent strategy- and I agree that this is the standard that we need to aspire to. I hope everyone stays cool today and takes the necessary precautions to be safe in this heat! Thanks.

Question from North Berwyn  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 8:33 AM

Mr. Salzman: Please explain to me how adding low income housing to a business district is going to spur development? Yes, talking Madison & Grove. What are the odds that a Currency Exchange gets put into the little area connected to the new Walgreen's? Why does Marion get heated bricks and we get housing projects? South OP/North Berwyn is getting RIPPED OFF by the VOP Board!!!!

Asston from Oak Park  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 11:47 PM

If you have a lot of good idea Salzman. Continue spending money on downtown projects will eventually make it a major business district. One idea would be to close Lake street at Forest avenue to Harlem. It could be an outdoor mall like the one in Oak Brook.

Kyle  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 10:14 PM

I think the questioning is about what we're getting and wondering why. Because after N&S Marion a common reaction walking down that street is "this is nice...why? That was expensive." What does unifying business districts or whatnot have to do with development? Can we not maintain infrastructure and encourage business in other ways?

Kyle  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 10:10 PM

First, thank you to all the posters recently. I'm really enjoying the line of discussion. Trustee Salzman, I don't think anybody here wants to turn DTOP into a ghost town or is questioning the importance of attention. It's more about how & what. My questions revolve around what other alternatives exist for development. I get that you're saying "small, medium, large" & Goldilocks is going to pick the right one. But are there a range of other ideas on the table we could/should be considering?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 9:54 PM

Adam -I am not completely clear on your comparison with GM, but I do know that GM was a company that held its knowledge and information close to its vest. When they headed to insolvency and could not find private investors, it was forced to go to the US-Gov. The Gov. set strong demands, the biggest being a complete opening of GM books. Gov. employees worked at GM as parallel staff for months doing risk analysis to determine if an Gov. estimate was safe. They determined it was and the Gov. invested. There is an analogy with OP. Residents, via taxes, have invested in Oak Park DTOP development for 20 years. The OP Board wants to continue to invest the people's money in the projects, but is not willing to open its books. That is; the board is asking for more trust then the investors (residents) are willing to give until they know the ROI on their 20-year investment. The watershed for conflict was Tiger. OP Gov decided to gamble $108,000 to get Tiger 3. It was a failure. Will the investors view Tiger 4 as too risky? Will it fight against the 17M that the board will have to seek? I see the DeKalb, Joliet, and Rockford example as a mean hyperbole similar to Ray Tiger 3 threat that Lake pipes could burst destroying business, damaging foundations, and potentially causing building to collapse. The first step in community relations is treating residents as adults.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 8:32 PM

Got to jump in here Mr. Salzman. Your metaphor doesn't hold water. (1)There was all kinds of analysis on the impact of allowing GM to fail. Numbers. Projections. An example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72cHfOKoA1c (2)The bailout proved itself by keeping the projected impact from NOT happening. GM is profitable. (3) The GM situation wasn't a if you do A, B will happen. It was a if you DON'T do A, B will happen. Totally different than bricks.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 8:04 PM

John, that's like telling the administration in 2009 to PROVE it was in Detroit's best interests for them to bail out General Motors. These are policy choices- not ironclad prescriptions. Though I would invite you to visit downtown DeKalb or Joliet or Rockford if you'd like to see EVIDENCE of what happens when businesses on main commercial strips close their doors.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 6:46 PM

Adam - Your quote ("What I have said is that the economic health of our downtown MUST be one of our priorities.")is the issue that is being challenged. What is being asked on the thread is proof, not opinion, that DTOP has been a financial asset to OP in the last twenty years. The answer requires financial analysis that proves that it has. I think until there is proof that DTOP development has been a financial asset, DTOP is not a MUST priority.

Basic Business Training  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 6:30 PM

Oak Park needs a little Stephen Covey training. "First things first" or said in another way, streets before streetscapes. How many alleys could be fixed with 100 thou?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 6:25 PM

JBMNN - I'll take the bet, if you are willing to modify it from very different to different. I do not anticipate there being an overthrow of the government. That is the last thing OP needs. I anticipate seeing some incumbents choosing not to run or losing their seat in the election. I do not see a 7-0 VMA board in 2013. I also see independent candidates having more success in 2013 since issues are more clearly defined than they were in last four or five elections. Keep the bet small, I am a retiree.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 6:19 PM

@Enuf- Respectfully, your comment about the Board's mantra being that "any investment in downtown is a good investment" is a complete distortion. So is your allegation that in our view, "the bigger the private development the better." I believe that all of my colleagues deserve more credit for the seriousness and thought with which they weigh these issues than you are willing to give them, whether you agree with the policy outcomes or not. Go back and watch a Board meeting on South Marion or the TIGER grant or on the streetscape committee and find some evidence that the Board is considering these issues by applying the simplistic formula that you are attributing to the entire body. Again, you might not agree with some (or all) of the Board's decisions, and you may think that the development strategy in this transitional period needs clarity. You have a point- we have some work to do to craft a smart-sized development strategy for DTOP that acknowledges certain economic realities. I've stated that multiple times publicly and I am not the only Trustee to have done so. I've stated it multiple times below. Trustee Johnson states as much in the above article. Regarding Lake Street, we are asking for a range of alternatives from the streetscape committee, a committee which makes recommendations, not decisions about allocation of resources. "Alternatives" in my view means projects that vary in scope and have different price tags. I don't see how that translates into a conclusion on your part that "any downtown development is good development," and "the bigger the better." What I have said is that the economic health of our downtown MUST be one of our priorities. I don't accept the premise that this is an item on our list of responsibilities that can be overlooked. But to distort that point into a simplistic "bigger is better" and "all plans are the right plan" set of mantras discredits some of your other very solid observations, Enuf.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 5:51 PM

If DTOP pays $5.0m a year in taxes and the average OP Home pays $8,000 per year in taxes, DTOP' contribution would be equal to 635 homes. Considering that there are 22,000 homes in OP (2010 Census, I say DTOP is getting a great deal. (This is a broad-based calc. - Beware)

JBMNN  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 4:43 PM

Who wants to bet that not much will be way different than it is today??? Anybody. Any takers? Perhaps a WJ contest once the candidates announce?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 1:45 PM

The current mantra of the village board (as exemplified by below comments of Trustees Johnson & Salzman) is that any public investment in downtown districts is a good investment, and the bigger the private development, the better. It is generally accepted that industrial and office development provides more benefits that public service costs, but the reverse is often true for retail and residential development (hence impact fees). Don't assume DTOP is a net economic benefit.

Kyle  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 1:08 PM

I'm not a number cruncher & more into the philosophical questions, myself. But, I think you're onto something, Enuf. Maybe that's what I was getting at before is about how the district fits into the community. Are we trying to make it something it's not? How does it serve us now? How will it serve us in the future? I think it needs to be able to evolve to be whatever we need it to be. I'm for a much more cautious approach at things we can't easily undo.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 12:44 PM

Thought Exercise ... is DTOP a net economic benefit? Using OP residential property as a baseline, what are the value-added economic benefits of DTOP property / sales / hotel taxes and revenue, after deducting for TIF funds, retail / developer subsidies, parking garages, streetscaping, and added public services (administrative, police, etc)? Should we think of DTOP as a public service district, much like school, park, fire and police districts, rather than an economic generator?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 11:28 AM

Thanks for pointing that out. Not getting the year right is a privilege of age. I am looking forward to the September twists. Anything that will create a large voter turnout in April (that is the most important issue in OP), an issues based seven month discussion, and new faces is all I want.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 10:53 AM

Hey, John, we haven't written an articles for 3/27/13 yet. We do write most of the copy well in advance for our convenience. But we are only a couple of months ahead not nine months. But I can tell you that early September is going to have some unexpected twists and turns in local affairs!

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 10:35 AM

Retired

JBMNN  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 10:28 AM

John Butch Murtagh News Network. 24/7 OP news that you can use. Your time is either not worth much or you are making a ton o money john. Slainte.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2012 12:01 AM

2013 Election Check Up - In a 3-27-2013 article Marty Stepinak got some early info on candidates. Following is Marty 3-27 survey results. POPE said he was unsure whether he'll chase four more years. Expects to make decision in September. Incumbents BREWER, HEDGES said they were unsure if they would run again. Village Clerk POWELL Incumbent JOHNSON reelected in 2011, said he has thought about running for President, and that it was too early to throw his support behind Pole for another turn. HEDGES said he was considering running for President. LYNN KASSIN, not on the board, said she plans to run again after finishing fourth last time. GARY SCHWAB, 2009 President candidate, said "At this point, I don't know that there's any real interest." MURTAGH - not a candidate - then or now. Did state, ""This has the potential to be a dynamic political year in Oak Park. If that doesn't occur, I think we're even in more trouble than we are right now in the village." Does anyone have any information, or even speculation, to add to the Marty's results. I think the WJ posters would like to know if anyone new is thinking about throwing his/her hat in the ring.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 9:43 PM

John Butch Murtagh, I've been thinking about where Jim Coughlin has been too. Always enjoy his posts. Maybe he is on vacation. The posts certainly show the thoughts of people and the board, but that's as far as it goes until vote time and then I hope everyone on here will get motivated to make a change.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 9:39 PM

Q-Be thankful for the freedom of the WJ Post. People can post if they want, or just read what they want. There are no posting and that makes it what it is.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 9:37 PM

Anybody see a Jim Coughlin post lately?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 8:32 PM

What will become of the posting on what Pope did, nothing. Pope knows that and so does Raymond. They know people are like children and get distracted with something else. That is why Pope and Raymond can do what they want. It's to bad, but that's the way citizens are. Raymond left, Salzman is gone and Pope doesn't even show up on posts any longer.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 8:28 PM

John Butch Murtagh, thank you for explaining but it seems it wasn't that simple from the post from Enuf is Enuf. It still seems as if Pope took things into his own hands without the board making a formal vote on it.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 7:59 PM

The board initially received the grant application at their board mtg. on March 5, w/ application deadline on March 19. At this mtg., the board approved a $108K contract for design drawings, paid by 2011-12 road salt funds. There was not a formal vote on the application itself, despite obligating $17M, although USDOT required legislative approval included in the application. Further discussion on the application was scheduled for the March 19 board meeting, but canceled.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 6:03 PM

Q- The board voted 4-3 in favor of the $108,000 for Dakota. Pope did not make the decision by himself. The thing that has some village officials is that Pope went to DC right before the grant request was to be submitted. The board voted just a few days before the submission. That is; the board had no time to review the issues. Having paid $108,000 for the Dakota drawings, it is likely that the village will submit another Tiger grant later this year. It is likely that they will fail again.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 4:26 PM

Enuf is Enuf,you have made great points with facts to back it up, but are you saying that Pope, acted separately from the board without their approval to spend 108 thousand dollars of tax money? How can been? Pope isn't allow to act alone? This is not a lack of communication between Pope and the board. Who is running Oak Park? Is it Pope? This is a political scandal. Papers across America are going to pick up this. We need to control this with a pr firm who specializes in turning things around.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 3:41 PM

It should be noted, that despite obligating $17M in matching funds, and despite USDOT's requirement for legislative approval, VOP's TIGER grant application was never authorized by the village board. At the March 5, 2012 regular board meeting, Pope only reported discussions with representatives of State and Federal Agencies. Then the board approved the resolution authorization execution of a contract with Lakota Group to prepare unified streetscape design drawings for $108K.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 3:35 PM

What happened to Silly?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 2:32 PM

Where was Pope going to get the 17 million from? "Pope pointed to several possible sources, including private developers, sales tax revenues and downtown property tax dollars that the village is getting from the settlement of a recent lawsuit." Remember, these were all possible sources for Pope, but nothing definite. Knowing if like a sure thing, and nothing definite is like gambling. Gentlemen,we have a gambler.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 2:28 PM

Cont.. "That's a major step, and I don't really feel comfortable that we've had all the conversations to get me to that point right now."

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 2:27 PM

Trustees voted 4-3 in favor of the move, as some board members said they needed more info and time before setting things in motion. Trustee Bob Tucker likened the decision to buying "fancier cufflinks" thinking it's going to help you ace a job interview. "We're making a much bigger decision, I think, if we're about to get into the poker game here with another $108,000 on the table," he said. Cont...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 2:26 PM

Pope told board members Monday that he recently took a trip to D.C. and learned from transportation officials that Oak Park's application might have risen to the top if it was closer to "shovel ready." Thus, the village is spending the $108,000 on a no-bid contract to have Chicago-based Lakota Group work up plans for Lake Street, from Harlem to Euclid, decked out in bricks.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 2:20 PM

John Butch Murtagh, who specifically will being going again for the Tiger Grant, and if so, doesn't Oak Park need to have millions to receive the Tiger Grant? If the village does need to have the money, and it doesn't, would that be considered bad decision making?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 2:18 PM

Enuf is Enuf, maybe I am not understanding correctly so please correct me where I am wrong. Pope spends 108 thousand dollars for a report he needs to request money from a Tiger Grant. Part of the application says the requesting town, village, etc., requires 17 million dollars to receive the 43 million dollars. Pope knows he doesn't have the 17 million and has the other board members who did not do their own work agree to spend 108 thousand dollars of taxpayer money.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 2:12 PM

I would like to say judge for yourself by reviewing the village's TIGER grant application, but it is not publically available. Nor has VOP made available Lakota's $108K design drawings. Too bad, because USDOT required VOP's TIGER grant applicant to include a detailed Benefit-Cost Analysis, using only publically available evidence that the expected benefits of the project justify the costs. That would be useful in assessing the feasibility of the Lake St. Streetscape plan.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 1:46 PM

Enuf - You hit the nail on the head. The Dakota game will now move onto Tiger 4 at the end of the year when OP applies with the Fed again. Besides being bad decision making, I am totally disgusted that the village is now living on the "dole". We (the entire village) should be ashamed. Hell, we cannot even do a Comprehensive Plan without a Fed grant!

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 1:25 PM

While Pope initiated the March 5 resolution to pay Lakota Group $108K, Johnson, Lueck and Brewer approved it. They trusted Pope's explanation that his TIGER grant application had a very good chance of being awarded, and the extra $108K worth of design drawings would demonstrate commitment. If any board member actually reviewed the TIGER grant program, they would have realized Pope's proposed plan was woefully disconnected from the program's intent, and didn't have a chance.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:57 PM

Enuf is Enuf, if all of the information is available then why would Pope spend 108 thousand dollars when he knew the millions required from Oak Park was not available for him to meet the Tiger Grant? Not everyone is good at acquiring information like yourself, but I would expect anyone who is responsible for taxpayers money would be. Because of these postings, I have now know this is something Pope has wasted taxpayers money on, and the question is, how many other things have the board wasted.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:52 PM

We all make mistakes and sometimes differ in our interpretations and opinions. I only ask that everyone (posters, board members, etc.) attempt to substantiate their comments as much as possible, citing references that are publicly available. Most of my information is derived from the village website, although I am frustrated by the fact that some public information, such as Capital Improvement Plans and current TIF Annual Reports, remain unavailable.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:35 PM

Unfortunately, I understand you wishing to give Raymond, Salzman, Pope, ect., the opportunity to educate themselves in understanding reports, but they have had enough time. Common sense is very beneficial, and they have none. Common sense would say to anyone running a business if you are in the red, you need to ask why to everyone involved. None of them have done this, or if some have, they were unsuccessful in relaying that to the taxpayers.

Unfortunately  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:30 PM

@Q. I'm NOT concluding that RJ, etc. are intentionally seeking to mislead. In my experience, most people simply do not understand "numbers." Therefore, a pre-conceived opinion is supported because they "see" what they wish/believe to be true. Posters much smarter than me (Enuf, Kyle, yourself,etc.) are asking important questions and VOP needs to address them in order to financially move forward. Prop taxes in this town are driving people away - we need to work together smartly and move forward.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:24 PM

Enuf is Enuf, you are amazing with being able to quickly find facts that rebuke what Raymond and Salzman. Pope won't even come on this posting board. He knows you are able to rebuke him. If it wasn't for the W.J. posting board, I know I would have not known as fact the board is not to be trusted to benefit Oak Park taxpayers. I always knew it seemed wrong with the streets, etc., but now it's been shown why with facts. Enuf is Enuf, we need you as President of the Board.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:21 PM

Thanks Enuf - you have answered the question posed to Ray Johnson.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:20 PM

Unfortunately, you were right. Read Enuf from Enuf. He knows everything about what is going on and has facts to prove it, and they are the facts of the board that have continued telling us that the downtown business is the key to the rest of Oak Park. Now it is obvious they have been deceiving all of us, and Salzman and Raymond have posted on here purposely mis-leading information. Salzman says Oak Park gets services because of downtown Oak Park, and Raymond says it's the main source of revenue.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:00 PM

@RayJohnson ... OP receives only 2% from the overall sales tax, bringing in about $4M per year (as per VOP 2012 Annual Budget), not the $5M you claim. Most of this $4M sales tax is generated from outside the downtown area. My guess is the added value of downtown sales tax that can be attributed to TIF funds is minimal, measured in ten of thousands. This hardly justifies over $100M of TIF funds invested in DTOP. Economic development is to serve the public good, not vice versa.

Unfortunately  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:40 AM

@Q. In truth, I don't know. I chose "grocery stores" as a source of sales tax revenue because it's easy to visualize. I could add the two Walgreens and CVS stores, too. How about the gas stations? And then up and down North Ave? Fast food like McD's and Wendy's? Nick's? Pete's? Mickey's? The list of non-downtown sources of sales tax revenue is HUGE. Marion may "look" nice, but does it generate sufficient revenue to justify millions in expenses? Y'know, ROI. RJ has raised raised this impt issue.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:38 AM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, the answer is very simple, they really don't know what they are doing and they need to leave the board. It's not easy to admit to anyone that you don't know what they are doing, but for the benefit of the 99 percent of Oak Parker's who want services that will benefit them and not the 1 percent in downtown private businesses who don't contribute to the major share of the tax revenues, it's only right that the board members give up their seats for the good of Oak Park.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:25 AM

1. It is standard practice per every design profession, architecture (AIA), planning (APA) and engineering (ASCE), to complete a feasibility study prior to starting a project. The purpose is to assure the feasibility of a project before incurring time, costs and resources. Contrary to this practice, the board has expended $108K on design drawings and authorized a Lake St. Streetscape Committee to develop design recommendations, forgoing any needs or costs assessment.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:23 AM

2. Feasibility questions re. Lake St. streetscaping will not go away. Why is the village replacing streets from Harlem to Euclid that are rated in 'good' condition, while 60% of village streets are rated 'very poor' to 'fair'? Of the101 (1350 blocks) of water / sewer in OP, why is downtown OP deemed the most in need of replacement? Without TIF or TIGER grant funds, how is this $43 project to be funded? To proceed without answers to these questions, is foregoing due

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:17 AM

Kyle, your answers are easily answered by Raymond and Salzman. Let them spend money and only focus on downtown Oak Park, because what they are telling all taxpayers who fit into the 99 percent of taxpayers that they need to benefit the 1 percent and if you let them continue to do that, then it will take care of everything else. Now doesn't that make sense, Kyle. Just pay your share. Raymond, Pope and Salzman know what they are doing. Everyone should not expect what they have been giving.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:10 AM

Done from Oak Park, it's apparent that the posters on here want accountability. They want to know where the money is really coming from. Enough of the ridiculous talk from Raymond and Salzman. The are giving useless information. It's outdated and no one is interested any longer. People are wore down from paying so much in taxes and no one can get anything done in their area. It's unfair and this board needs to leave and make room for good trustees of taxpayers money for the 99 percent of Oak Par

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:07 AM

Unfortunately, are you saying that Raymond may be not explaining sales taxes correctly? Is it possible that the grocery stores not located in the downtown business district are the main resources for sales taxes? How could that be, Salzman and Raymond say it's downtown. It would be beneficial for Raymond and Salzman to show what businesses are the prime source for revenue instead of saying percentages.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:03 AM

Raymond said it brings in 5 million dollars John Butch Murtagh. Raymond, are you saying 5 million dollars is what downtown business brought in or is that all businesses in Oak Park, and which business brought in the most? 5 million dollars does seem to be a lot of money, but how much does that really reduce the tax burden? How was your 4th of July? Stop by Mary Jo's Cheese Emporium with your tape measure and ADA requirements.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 10:57 AM

John Butch Murtagh, I don't know why you would consider Salzman to be a flunky and not be willing to check a possible ADA violation. Also, if the ADA receives more than one complaint about a possible violation, it moves up on their list to investigate. Your post is correct about Salzman proving how the downtown projects are the only way for top notch services for Oak Park citizens.

Kyle  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 10:16 AM

What I'm questioning is maybe...the question itself? The Board is coming up with a certain answer to a question that, perhaps, should be phrased differently. Or maybe what I'm saying is that there are really 9 questions here that may need 9 different answers. Not just one. I hope that makes sense.

Kyle  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 10:13 AM

What is essentially being done is forcing all these concepts into one discussion of the corridor so it becomes an all or nothing situation. Whereas, if were were talking about smaller scale independent policy matters in a wider context it might be less suspicious to charges of "too much"...spending, focus on one area. Instead of "let's improve pedestrian access in all business corridors" we get a bullet point as part of a larger comprehensive plan for only Lake St.

Kyle  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 10:13 AM

Ray & Adam, I see where both of you are coming from...but you lose me somewhere along the way. Are we talking about "economic development?" If so, let's focus on what's *behind* the curbs. Are we talking about streets infrastructure? Let's have that discussion as a community. But I think we've wrongly tied the health & vitality of downtown to this master plan of unifying districts & beautification & infrastructure issues. I'm for a healthy DTOP...but what does that mean?

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 9:31 AM

Q - "How much does the village really benefit in money that reduces the taxes to citizens of Oak Park?" Nicely done. It's going to take a lot of burgers at Five Guys to pay back $43M plus interest before anything trickles down to get my street paved correctly.

Unfortunately  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 9:15 AM

@RJ. Thanks for your post, but what is really necessary is TIF sales tax revenues - not OP. For instance, food stores in OP generate a lot of sales tax revenue. All but one are outside of downtown. A lot of money has been spent specifically for the downtown area - what is the ROI for this? $5M is nice, but how much from downtown TIF? 20%? Can TIF numbers, vs OP numbers, be accessed some where?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 9:15 AM

Ray, the question was: Exactly how would cutting off all future subsidies (direct or indirect) for the Greater Downtown result in residents getting lower services, etc.? The time span for the results was 1990-2012. The calculation is (All-in) resident monies related to DTOP minus (All-in) DTOP revenue. Inflation, etc. has to be added to the calc, but the OP Finance Dept should be able to handle that. Until that calc is available or something similar, then the statement that investments in DTOP have financial benefits to non-DTOP residents is specious. It would be best for the village, if board members discontinue to use a rationale, DTOP investment rewards homeowners, that has never been proved.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 8:14 AM

@ Mr. Murtagh: Data is important, although its usually disputed when it doesn't coincides with ones argument. I'll give it a shot anyway. First, the focus on downtown has been very important to Oak Parks general financial health. Sales tax numbers would indicate Oak Park faired far better than most communities during and after the recession. Sales tax revenues decreased by 3% in 2008 and 1% in 2009. We gained 7% in 2010 and nearly 5% in 2011. Sales tax revenues provided over $5 million towards village services. Each dollar increase in sales tax is one less we need from the property tax category. Another data point is occupancy rates and we've been at or above 90% in the downtown area for some time. Finally, lets look at value. A statistically valid study was done by ERA and Associates during the downtown planning effort and they determined commercial property values in the TIF were 7% higher than those outside of the TIF, which could indicate the value of development and redevelopment efforts within the TIF district. Crandall-Arambula, the firm assisting with the downtown planning effort used the following analogy: Your downtown is like your heart. You must take good care of it, for if it weakens, your extremities (or other business districts), will suffer.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:06 AM

Q - If ADA rules have been violated than it is up to ADA to investigate. All I am trying to do is to get the issue resolved. I sure don't think it is up to board members to be your flunky in your search for the truth. If you think ADA rules have been violated, then you should report the violation to ADA.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:02 AM

Adam, my comments have nothing to do with your reply to Kyle or any other post in the string. My post resulted in one question. Exactly how would cutting off all future subsidies (direct or indirect) for the Greater Downtown result in residents getting lower services, etc.? As I stated in the sentence before the question, financial data is required to prove or disapprove your observation that, "To overlook economic development downtown would actually disadvantage and impair our ability to deliver top notch services to the rest of the village." After two decades of development projects intended to maintain a high level of services, programs, and facilities, the village should be able to prove definitely whether or not your statement is correct.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:47 PM

John Butch Murtagh, you are asking Dan about the canopy. It conforms to build practices but my question is does it meet the requirements of the ADA. As for why Mary Jo was given the ok to have a permanent structure attached to a public sidewalk, it would be interesting to know who gave her that permission that over rides the public's interest for a private business. Dan's comment on the Marion street bump out that is was always in the plans, and that is tha.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:44 PM

Adam Salzman, now you are talking about other towns. Stay on topic, and as for proof, that should not be difficult at all. You won't discuss the Marion and South Blvd., ADA requirements because you know you don't want to say yes or no on something that you should know, but don't. That makes you an uninformed board member and how could you make a decision when you don't know.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:39 PM

Btw, I don't think the premise that the Village is the main culprit for the increasing tax burden is correct, and I don't think the last couple of Bds prior to this one get nearly enough credit for making the hard decisions from 2006 onward to keep the Village's share of the tax burden in check. Other communities didn't weather downturn nearly as well as OP. If "proof" is what's being called for here, I would challenge anyone to provide proof otherwise. Thanks for the discussion! Happy 4th!

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:37 PM

Dan Haley - HELP, can you use the WJ's reporting skills to determine if the Marion Street Cheese Market Restaurant canopy conforms to village law. I suspect that no one has followed the WJ Comment Statement which says, "It is OK to offer comments - both positive and critical -- about local businesses. In fact our resource pages are designed to feature reader comments. However, in fairness, we ask that if you have a specific frustration with a business that you contact the business owner directly. In most cases an e-mail link to the business is included on the resource page." The air needs cleaning on the canopy issue.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:31 PM

Adam Salzman, it's really not that difficult to read why Kyle wrote that. He is saying if you don't have the money right now, why don't you focus on what you can do, and that is looking at what his area needs, and do it.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:29 PM

Adam Salzman, lets take a real look at your downtown. How much does the village really benefit in money that reduces the taxes to citizens of Oak Park? How much would downtown Oak Park take in if you had all of the streets done with bricks and the sidewalks done the way you want? That is all that you want to discuss. You don't want to get things done for the rest of Oak Park, that would benefit citizens.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:29 PM

The more money our businesses make, the more sales tax revenue our businesses generate, the more resources Village Hall has to provide the services residents rightly expect. I predict someone will respond to that statement by saying that the Village hasn't followed through on the above sequence of events. We can argue about that- but that is not the point that was originally raised by Kyle. He questioned whether economic development downtown should even be on the Board's radar. My answer? Yes.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:25 PM

John Butch Murtagh, all I want is for Raymond or Salzman to read the ADA, and let the citizens know if Mary Jo's Cheese Emporium complies or not to the ADA requirements for her outdoor cafe. As for why she was given the ok to erect a permanent structure using the taxpayers sidewalk, that is another subject to find out who gave her that right.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:23 PM

Well this thread has been about the commitment of the Board to review proposals for downtown development in a responsible and cost-conscious manner, balancing economic development priorities downtown with other local government priorities. This Board has made that commitment. As far as JBM calling for "proof" that a strong downtown is good for the fiscal health of the Village as a whole- this isn't complicated stuff. It's common sense. (Cont'd in next post)

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:18 PM

It is the real Adam Salzman who has been posting. I went back and read his posts of the last few days. I agree with some of his points and disagree with others, but believe that he is sincere in trying to work with residents to improve the community. His Marion and Tiger votes show that he is willing to challenge the status quo. Remember his first post on this week was made in reply to statement that Hedges, Tucker, and Salzman looked disinterested. That a hard hit. Maybe we all need to cool off a bit.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 11:01 PM

The opening paragraph for the Economic Development of the 1990 Comprehensive Plan established a goal to EXPAND THE VILLAGE'S TAX BASE in order to maintain a high level of services, programs, and facilities. Essentially, that was the birth of TIF's being the lifeline to massive development that would relieve the high taxpayers burden. The Madison and Greater Downtown TIF's collapsed last year. That is; the 1990 COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FAILED. The twenty year failure resulted in residents having higher taxes and a LOWER LEVEL of service, programs, and facilities. Ray Johnson stated this week, "We are obviously very sensitive of our taxpayers. We are well aware of increases from other areas that have impacted residents." That comment is on the mark. While there are many factors contributing to the taxpayers burden, most were the result of poor planning by the village. Trustee Salzman posted today that "To overlook economic development downtown would actually DISADVANTAGE AND IMPAIR OUR ABILITY TO DELIVER TOP NOTCH SERVICES TO THE REST OF THE VILLAGE." The days of blindly accepting unsupported views of village officials is over. Adam, It's time prove your views with financial statistics that support your premise. Exactly how would cutting off all future subsidies (direct or indirect) for the Greater Downtown result in residents getting lower services, etc.?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 10:52 PM

OPRFDad Mary Jo's Cheese Emporium is not in ADA compliance according to other posters who know the requirements, and Raymond Johnson doesn't want to talk to the board members about it and Adam Salzman doesn't want to address. These guys only do what they are told to do, and their ideas of helping the taxpayers is making sure private businesses get what they need with taxpayer money. Doesn't seem right, does it? Of course not, so at voting time, it's time to put new people in.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 10:49 PM

Kyle, Salzman isn't on here talking about progress or saying he will get something done. As you mentioned, people in your area have been talking about it for years. Stop talking and start demanding answers to address your safety concerns. Salzman can only talk about the mall.

OPRFDad  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 10:08 PM

Well done posters, giving Salzman, if that is in fact him, grief. Listen to him talk about the process. For a Village bent on transparency, OP's Board is anything but. With all the committees and obfuscation, you'd think this was a city of 1 million. And I'd like to hear the explanation regarding the scofflaw cheese mart. If the Village won't look into it, report the building to the Department of Labor.

Kyle  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 9:05 PM

Q, I have to say, I don't think that's fair to Adam. I'm disagreeing with him on a point of how local government should operate. But I find him quite reasonable. Esp. being on here during July 4 attempting to talk to constituents. I certainly didn't spend my day on the WJ. lol

Kyle  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 8:54 PM

I can't tell you how many times in discussions with the people on my block about possibly finally getting some action on crosswalks & safety at our intersection (many of us have been asking for, literally, years) the comments come up about how 2 blocks up the road we got all the streetscaping...one woman noted that the S. Marion project should have paid for our possible traffic light. lol I can't say I blame her.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 8:54 PM

Kyle, well put, and you are correct because Salzman thinks Oak Park mall is the answer for every Oak Parker. Who doesn't want do anything else. It's time for someone new. The board needs to address the problems that citizens need correcting. A new board is needed.

Kyle  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 8:46 PM

I think it's too easy to appear--forget true or not--like the village is skipping steps, not doing scaled back costs, and throwing things to the wall to hope something sticks. Which leads to the perception that the smaller--honestly more important in impact sometimes--items are ignored or less important than this big, sweeping vision. I understand economic vitality is important. But who serves who? I think the village sometimes seems for many residents like local govt is in a far off world.

Kyle  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 8:45 PM

(Focusing just on Trustee Salzman's reply to me--thank you, btw) I think the issue, for me philosophically, is that we're talking multiple "projects," in reality, lumped under one rubric. Economic development. Streetscape. And in that streetscape there are subtopics--pedestrian access, public seating, landscaping. Are we aiming at everything and hitting nothing though? Why not explore these topics on a smaller scale, independently? Give people a chance to digest it all.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 8:21 PM

Steven Rouse, you are the 1 percent trying to convince the 99 percent to believe in your deceptive ways.

Steven Rouse from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 7:52 PM

Not trustee Saltzman. Q you are the one percent that thinks that we all need to listen to your drivel.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 5:59 PM

Sammy, is that you, Salzman? You're the 1 percent that benefits from the other 99 percent taxpayers.

Sammy  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 5:18 PM

Q check your own spelling before calling me out. I have had enough of Enuf and you and your negative BS.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 5:16 PM

Question for Q, is there another Q, or isn't there? None of those made sense for Q, so it must be the other Q.

Question for Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 4:45 PM

Is Q suffering from heat stroke? Those last three posts were brutal to read.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 4:16 PM

Cheese Eater, cheese is fantastic. Trying to access the sidewalk through Mary Jo's cheese emporium isn't and your elected official Raymond Johnson what check into it, and Adam Salzman, won't talk about it, but taxpayers are paying for it.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 4:13 PM

Sammy, you have your facts wrong, and you have the spelling wrong on Enuf is Enuf. Enuf is Enuf knows what Enuf is Enuf talking about, and Enuf is Enuf can even explained something to you.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 4:12 PM

Lisa, you are as anonymous as Q is. Why do you take you answer for Salzman. Where you his proxy for the 108 thousand dollars?

Cheese Eater from OP  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 4:00 PM

Q, why do you hate cheese? It's delicious! Especially with some of the local squab that can be had by discreetly hunting pigeons under the viaduct! when they get stuck in the vegan safety net!! (Ssshhh....don't tell anyone! )

Sammy   

Posted: July 4th, 2012 3:32 PM

Q is obsessed with one sidewalk cafe. I find it funny that a person that does not even live in OP cares so much about a sidewalk cafe. How can Enough run for anything? Who is he/she?

Lisa from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 3:02 PM

I don't follow local politics as closely as some, and I rarely post in these comments. But I do know that Trustee Salzman voted against the $108K contract and he wasn't on the Board when the PeopleSoft issue arose. With all due respect, Q comes off kind very rudely in this exchange. Tough talk from an anonymous poster does not impress me.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 2:18 PM

Salzman, address Kyle's requirements instead of saying all of your talk is delivering top notch services. Don't you really understand how everyone is not buying your talk. If you are aware of a person on here named Kyle, then you are aware of what he is asking. What you do is go fix it.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 2:14 PM

To overlook economic development downtown would actually disadvantage and impair our ability to deliver top notch services to the rest of the Village.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 2:14 PM

Salzman, while are you talking about improvements when you don't have the money. Save it when you have accomplished needed project in Oak Park that are affordable. That is the problem with all of your talk. It's just talk. Now go get your tape measure with your guidelines from the ADA, and measure at Mary Jo's

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 2:12 PM

(cont'd from previous post) that discussion. I suppose I differ with Kyle , in that I don't believe that economic development in our downtown area is a luxury that we can only discuss when times are not tough. I also don't think that economic development and other pressing priorities are somehow inherently in opposition to each other. We are fortunate to have and are tasked with being responsible stewards of a high profile commercial district that is surrounded by mass transit. (cont'd)

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 2:12 PM

Salzman, read the ADA requirements, take a tape measure and make your decision if Mary Jo's cheese emporium meets ADA requirements instead of wasting time with excuses on why you think you still should be on the board.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 2:10 PM

Salzman, what part of the train where you in when the 250,000 dollars went to your CFO's wife's friend?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 2:09 PM

Salzman, do you really believe what you say? Or do you think people believe what you say. You knew the TIF was gone, or didn't you know that was going to happen? You knew the village didn't have the 18 million dollars to match to receive the Tiger Grant, but you spent 108 thousand taxpayers money for the report.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 2:07 PM

Adam Salzman, you can't even answer my question regarding Mary Jo's Cheese Emporium because you know it doesn't meet ADA requirements, so instead, you try with your mixed up reasoning why Enuf is Enuf is wrong. Try to get one poster on here to believe what you say actually makes sense. Don't try to get back in the Caboose. The door is shut and it's time for you to leave the board.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: July 4th, 2012 2:05 PM

3. Kyle, you are right. We need to hash out our priorities in light of our changed circumstances re: the TIF and our funding options. A discussion needs to be had about where these priorities sit in light of other priorities in residential neighborhoods and other business districts. That's the motivation behind the amendment to Monday's resolution- to break the process up into smaller, public and digestible pieces, concurrent with the unfolding of the budget process, so that we can have (cont'd)

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 1:59 PM

2. The implication by Enuf that the outcome has been determined prior to the discussions being had is just wrong. There is absolutely no factual basis for Enuf's claim that the "wedding planner" would have the ability to narrow the range of options before the Board to three identically priced, equally expensive plans. At the meeting on Monday, reference was made to a "menu" of options. Any decent menu would not restrict our options to lobster, caviar, and filet mignon.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 1:52 PM

With the many analogies being employed in this thread- the train, the wedding, etc.- it seems to me that some basic facts are being obscured. 1. The range of alternatives that would result from a truly collaborative planning effort should be at different price points and, the question of how much to invest would be determined by the Board, through an open and transparent budget process. (cont'd in next thread)

Unfortunately  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 1:13 PM

I also thank Enuf for his posts and efforts!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 10:22 AM

Enuf is Enuf, you are needed by the citizens of Oak Park, as president of the board. You could explain any project to your colleagues on the board that even they would understand. Salzman has left the Caboose and took a taxi back home.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 9:22 AM

(1) Trustee Salzman ... say you have 4 daughters; two married and two engaged. You paid $7.2M for N. Marion's wedding, w/ funds (TIF) that no longer exist. You paid $5.4M for S. Marion's wedding, w/ a loan (bond). You promised to pay $20M for OP Avenues's wedding. And now you send your daughter, Lake, who is planning the biggest wedding by far, to the same bridal boutique used by your other daughters, with the condition she report back w/ alternative wedding packages.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 9:21 AM

(2) Trustee Salzman ... after consulting w/ wedding planners Pat Zubak & Mike Fox, who also helped plan your other daughter' weddings, Lake eventually informs you she has carefully selected three wedding packages. They cost $43M, $43M, and $43M. You call your accountant, who says you're already $93M in debt, not including OP Avenues $20M forthcoming wedding. You are stilling paying down on the $10M new garage debt, and you have little in your savings (reserves). Now what?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 9:20 AM

(3) Trustee Salzman ... allow me to suggest the following process. Step 1: Board directs staff to assess project feasibility, in terms of needs assessment, costs, and funding. Step 2a: If not feasible, do not proceed with project. Step 2b: If feasible, board directs staff to identify design parameters in terms of scope, budget, and funding. Step 3: Based on parameters, Lake St. Streetscape Committee to proceed with design development alternatives and report progress to board.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 9:21 PM

Kyle, I can tell you want the best for Oak Park, and would like the people who make the changes to take a serious look at what you are concerned about. There is no reason or difficulty in accessing your area. People who serve on the board, should serve, not just park their butts on a chair once a week. It requires people who want to build Oak Park, for the citizens, and not just for private business. A change is needed. Enuf is Enuf is the type of person we need running Oak Park.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 9:13 PM

Adam Salzman Posted: Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 7:31 PM He makes sense when you unravel his mumbo jumbo. Feasibility, any money left. Assess priority. Concern for board members should be what sewer is in the worst condition effecting citizens of Oak Park. Getting bids. Is there enough money, if so, award the contract including the penalties part for delays. You don't need a committee progress report to get a sewer replace. When the toilet backs up, you grab the plunger.

Kyle  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 9:11 PM

Q, you know me, I'm pretty even tempered. I think there's a rationale behind this that needs to be up for debate/discussion. If streetscape is vital to OP's future 40 yrs from now, let's air that out. I question the wisdom of continuing on this path when there are far less lofty checklist items to be crossing off. That's the stuff I want leadership on.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 8:52 PM

Kyle, it would be nice if Salzman answers your question but he can't. If he does make an attempt at it, it will not be an answer. All he needs to do is meet with the neighborhood, determine what is needed, put together his recommendations and send a copy to all departments it would effect for approval, and get it done.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 8:48 PM

Adam Salzman, you have no interest in addressing the ADA requirements at Mary Jo's because you don't know how to use a tape measure or you don't even know what is going on. Most likely, you don't know what is going on. Oak Park doesn't need a board made up of you, your the colleagues and Pope. One person could handle it, and that would be Enuf is Enuf. You can tell from his writing that Enuf is Enuf is witty and has been around people like yourself and your colleagues and knows your dance.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 8:43 PM

Adam Salzman, all this partly from here and there is like having parts of railroad tracks here and there. Get out of the Caboose, quickly, you are derailing. Not understanding Enuf is Enuf, and not answering his question is probably beyond you and your colleagues and that is why you need consultants for everything. Not taking responsibility for all the mistakes the board does with wasting taxpayers money can be blamed on bad consultants and you think that should satisfy everyone.

Kyle  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 8:37 PM

Adam, I won't grill you on the details just ask an honest question...I'm not happy we're still pursuing a project like this given finite resources & more pressing resident concerns that aren't being focused on. Do you think continuing to study the streetscape issue is effectively serving voters/taxpayers/residents as a whole? I think the question here is about longterm benefits...what are they? I think quite a few residents, justly, have questions about finding balance in priorities right now.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 7:31 PM

I understand your point, Enuf. Where I differ is that, in my view, the Design Development Committee is not based on the presumption of feasibility. The determination of feasibility should come partly from the budget process, partly from the assessment of where the infrastructure ranks on our priority list, and partly from an analysis of the range of alternatives that the committee should present via its progress reports. I absolutely do not consider there to be a pre-determination of feasibility

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 7:16 PM

@Trustee Salzman ... GIVEN the fact the DTOP TIF has effectively ended; and GIVEN the fact the village has been denied funding from USDOT; and GIVEN the fact the village board has not ascertained how Lake St. water/sewer infrastructure is ranked relative to the other 101 miles of village streets, THEN any interest in Lake St. streetscaping would begin with a feasible study, rather than a design development committee based on the presumption of feasibility.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 5:05 PM

Trustee Salzman ... I was very clear with my posts. As you agreed, I pointed out the village board did not provide any parameters to the Lake St. Streetscape Committee last night. I then pointed out last night's agenda stated an ad hoc group has been working on the design since March 15, which indicates parameters have already been provided or assumed. You also used the term "progress reports" in your amended resolution, which again implies work already in progress.

Well......  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 4:43 PM

Trustee Salzman, can't say I blame Enuf given how the Board spends money on consultants, "plans," bricks, etc. like drunken sailors on leave after 6 months at sea. Don't even get me started with how you are allowing a low income housing to be built in an already struggling business district and getting your butts handed to you in the TIF litigation....there is reason for cynical skepticism.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 4:35 PM

Enuf, I think any balanced reader can discern that you are letting your reflexive animus toward any action taken by this Board cloud your ability to look at this process objectively. You should make up your mind. In one post you say that no direction is being provided on scope, budget, funding, etc. Now you are telling me that the parameters are already decided. Which is it? Your arguments are all over the map, and the only unifying thread is that anything we propose, you disparage.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 4:16 PM

Trustee Salzman ... despite your declared intentions to lead the train, your efforts only succeeded in securing a seat in the caboose. As stated in the agenda, an ad hoc group has been working with the Lakota Group on the streetscaping design since March 15. They are already to the point of reviewing different material palettes. Your amended resolution simply calls for progress reports of their ongoing work. Parameters have already been provided or assumed w/o you. Wake up!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 4:08 PM

Adam Salzman, why don't you wait until you discover if you have the money or not before spending time talking at a meeting that may not turn into anything. Also, I presented to questions to you, they are direct enough that you should not be able to say, like you said to Enuf is Enuf, you are flat wrong which Enuf is Enuf, isn't.

Mixed Messages from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 4:06 PM

"The elements of the project include...expanding sidewalks and pedestrian areas ...adding public seating; adding more plaza space and sidewalk landscape area; and connecting the downtown area with multimodal transit options." Maybe the Feds noticed that we just tore up and paved over a pedestrian mall that did all of the above and turned it into a roadway and parking spots. Or maybe they noticed we spent the last chunk of money they gave us on our bustling dental/realtor office district.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 3:49 PM

Enuf- you are flat wrong. Thanks to Bd action last night there will be at least 2 more opportunities at a public mtg to discuss the parameters of the Lake St. streetscaping, not including the fall budget meetings. The reason there's no recommended scope, budget and funding is that we haven't started preparing the budget yet. Ensuring the Committee will report to the Board, at least twice more before a formal recommendation makes sure that this discussion takes place amid accurate financials.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 2:29 PM

Adam Salzman, you should be able to check out Mary Jo's Cheese Emporium within a day or two if you live in Oak Park. All you need is to know the ADA requirements, a tape measure and the flow of private business traffic blocking the sidewalk. As for your fellow colleague, Raymond Johnson, he already made the decision for you to not check it out, but many you are the type of trustee that doesn't let Johnson talk for you.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 2:24 PM

Adam Salzman, if you are really interested in what you and your colleagues do, then I ask you first, is to find out if Mary Jo's Cheese Emporium is in ADA compliance. Next, I would like to know why the 108 thousand dollar deal got through without you and your colleagues apparently having no idea why Pope, a colleague, would allow that taxpayers allocation for the Tiger Grant, when you don't have the millions needed to match it?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 2:24 PM

As for Trustee Brewer, it was he who cast the deciding vote for spending $108K on design drawings to enhance (they were not required) the village's $43M TIGER grant application. Having just been informed the village was not awarded the grant, I would think he would want a public explanation of what happened, for the benefit of himself and the public; as well as a discussion on the status of the $43M plan and $108K design drawings. He chose to remain silent.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 2:14 PM

Trustee Salzman: the time to discuss the parameters of the Lake St. streetscaping was at the public meeting last night when it was on the agenda. How can anyone justify authorizing a committee to develop recommendations when the board has not even provided direction in terms of scope, budget and funding? Merely forestalling board discussion (now) by scheduling more meetings (later) is deferring responsibility and leadership. The train has left the station w/o you ... again.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 1:59 PM

Enuf and others- I think to characterize myself, Trustee Hedges, Brewer, Tucker or any of my colleagues as disinterested is a big, big stretch. This item was pulled off the consent agenda for further discussion, and I asked that the resolution authorizing the formation of the Streetscape Committee be amended to require two progress reports on the status of the plan, alternatives and funding options prior to the presentation of the final plan. To allege disinterest is a misrepresentation.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 1:39 PM

Kudos to Anna Lothson - she has proven in a very short time that she is a star reporter. All of her articles capture the event she is covering with clarity and detail. That is particularly true in covering board meetings. From Pigeons to Tigers, she has it covered.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 1:36 PM

I really like spirited, inspired, confident, and even brazen dreaming. But there is point when dreams hits the wall. The Oak Park Development Plans, all of them, have hit the wall. Sertus is somewhere in limbo as is the Madison Highlands project. The Madison Diet still does not have a traffic study and will linger until there is one, the 2005 Greater Downtown Project stumbles along with no Tif support, a growing dependence on government grants, and a balance sheet that screams STOP. It is clear that the Dakota staff, business, committee was not formed to help Dakota with drawings or tto brainstorm the Inner-Ring Renaissance. The board's resolution covers the Lake Street Corridor from Harlem to Euclid. It has nothing to do with the Inner Ring. It is just another step to filling the requirements of the next version of the Tiger grant. It's a shame to waste business and staff on a project that cannot be funded without more debt, when there skills would be better used trying to help the board figure out how to get out its forthcoming budget and debt crisis. 2013 is the Fed's year to finally figure out how to address its debt crisis and reduce the size of government. Do we really dream that they will see DTOP as a crisis project? Optimism will arise in OP, but not until the 2005 Dream is put behind us.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 1:11 PM

Enuf is Enuf, this is absolutely funny, especially the part about no one knowing who paid for the ridiculous 108 thousand contract. The board members always look disinterested, and Pope always looks like he can't wait to get the farce over with. This is unfortunately how the village works. Will the Village get back to doing the necessary work it needs to do? Not with Pope, Johnson and the board.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 1:00 PM

As Lakota Group has already completed design drawings ($108K) for streetscaping along Lake St., the role of the Lake St. Streetscape Committee is not apparent, nor was it defined. Pavlicek stated the Committee had already met unofficially several times, and had discussed material palettes, which suggests the design phase is almost over, yet there is no project budget or scope of work. Trustee Brewer appeared to be sleeping, and Salzman, Hedges and Tucker were disinterested.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 12:43 PM

The board meeting was a farce, as staff could not provide any accurate information, and most board members were asleep at the wheel. For example, when Trustee Hedges asked how the $108K contract with Lakota Group for design drawings was paid, Village Planner Craig Failor responded he did not know. Interim Village Manager Cara Pavlicek then said it was paid with funds from the Harlem viaduct project. Incorrect, as it was paid from the 2011-12 road salt budget on May 14, 2012.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 10:48 AM

Enuf is Enuf, Pope and the board are telling them to go ahead and talk about anything you want and make it anyway they want, and now they know there isn't any money to pay for it unless they can increase their sales and sale bonds to raise the money. Anyone know if the taxpayers still own the land at Forest and Lake street? Or is it signed over to Sertus.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 9:56 AM

Last night the board approved a committee largely comprised of downtown commercial interests (Mike Fox, et al) to develop recommendations for the $43M Lake St. Streetscaping Project. The board agreed the committee should begin work w/o any direction from the board re. project scope or budget, or how the project should coordinate with $20M Oak Park Ave. Streetscape Project. It was explained by Cara Pavilcek that the only funding sources are sales tax revenue and bonds.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 6:35 PM

Enuf is Enuf, it sounds nice to Raymond, saying it, but the rest of us know there is no sensitivy involved. Forget this 43 million dollar Lake Street project. Stop all spending on projects that are not considered immediate until this group can be removed and the right people can bring Oak Park into a balanced budget. Johnson won't even take another look at the overlooked ADA requirements at the Cheese Emporium so don't expect anything at their meetings.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 6:29 PM

Tonight's Board Mtg. Agenda: Resolution Authorizing Downtown Districts Streetscape Committee. On March 15, the Village authorized a $108K contract 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 ... for the enhancement of streetscape and infrastructure improvements. Committee includes Mike 'What's in it for me' Fox.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 6:17 PM

Ray Johnson stated, ""We are obviously very sensitive of our taxpayers. We are well aware of increases from other areas that have impacted residents." Well Ray, according to the village audit report (p. 169), the total debt applicable to Oak Park residents from just VOP, Cook County, Cook County Forest Preserve, D97, D200) is $182,027,902, or $3,509 per capita. Let's see how sensitive you are tonight while discussing the proposed $43M Lake St. streetscaping plan.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 6:16 PM

Enuf is Enuf, the way PoJoCo could explain it is simple. We have had many successes and we will continue having many successes and we know we have a lot ahead of us, but we are confident we have prepared Oak Park to be in an excellent financial position to meet Oak Park's financial obligations. Or it could simply be, It's no one's business what we do.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 6:00 PM

Any funding for Lake St. streetscaping needs to be discussed in the context of the village's outstanding debt. As per the current audit report for 2011, long-term debt for the Village of Oak amounted to $92,988,524. For context, this amounts to 4.87% of total personal income of residents, or $1,792.45 per capita. In 2011, reserve funds decreased from $4.8M to $1.7M, far short of its goal of 20% of expenses. PoJoCo will need to explain any further debt obligations.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 5:16 PM

OPRFDad, what another waste of money. Pope doesn't have any money left to spend and can't get and grants. What's left? Borrow it.

OPRFDad  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 4:59 PM

It seems that the only solution to every Oak Park problem is ... spend more money. If you are interested in witnessing Village waste firsthand, drive by Holmes School. They just ripped out a relatively new playground to replace it with a brand new playground. Why? Because they've got to spend all that referendum money so they can ask for more. Same logic at play with Pope - spending taxpayer money is always a good thing.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 4:53 PM

rj, the Tiger grant was the money, but Pope spent 108,000 dollars when Oak Park, didn't have the millions of dollars to make it happen, if it was granted to Oak Park. Now Johnson just wants to move forward and work on something else. Sometimes it's a good idea for politicians to explain things that took place.

rj  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 3:43 PM

We didn't receive Federal funds because there aren't any. It would be novel if any newspapers reported truth or recognized they needed to find it. When are you going to display as much vigilance with the Federal government as you do with the local government? All things are not just local.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 3:39 PM

Tired of Taxes from Oak Park, you can be assured that borrowed money comes with interest that will become the liability of taxpayers for projects that just are necessary at this time when the village has a very large debt to pay down. You can't keep borrowing and never expect to pay it back. Of course the debt can be passed along to the new president and board members.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 3:20 PM

Johnson wants to look forward and have discussions on making investments using the village's own resources. For example, he'd like to see more focus on South Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street. Now we can get those the brick street on Oak Park avenue once Raymond gets in. Instead of streets, the money should be used to start paying back the debt's that have been created by this board.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 3:18 PM

Trustee Ray Johnson said he was a bit stumped as to why Oak Park didn't make the cut. Shouldn't Raymond be more stumped on where Pope was going to get the 17 million dollars?

Tired of Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 3:18 PM

To follow up on Ray Johnson's comments about making "investments": Doesn't an entity have to have actual money to make investments? The only taxing body in Oak Park that has the money to invest is District 200. What you are really talking about is borrow money and ultimately, raising taxes in order to incur costs. Where is the return on investment? What big source of income will be arriving?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 3:04 PM

I have an idea that may prove to be very beneficial to all taxpayers and the Village. Lets take one project and follow how well it is addressed and the amount of time it takes.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 2:50 PM

Observer, I didn't mean to imply the W.J. was on the receiving end. I meant the people who don't complain are on the receiving end.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 2:46 PM

Observer, I don't know why a newspaper would not want to report all of what has been going on, but it was funny when you said they are on the receiving end. Oak Parker's have no real way of knowing what is going on. I would not either if it was not for people posting on here, but that is not going to get the attention that a local paper reporting what is going on, would.

Observer  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 2:27 PM

Enuf you expect too much. The WJ is just a mouthpiece for the Board. They do none/zilch/nada investigative reporting. And sadly despite the high level of education in OP most people do not make the connection between Pope's follies and high taxes. Or if they do, they either just don't care or are on the receiving end of Pope's follies. How can OP care when the Board, including Johnson (future Village President candidate) are ignorant of the follies of Pope? The trustees are not doing their

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 2:27 PM

Enuf is Enuf you are very easy to understand every word in what you write because there is no added garbage. You are correct on everything, and you know what is going to happen at the meeting, nothing, absolutely nothing that would be considered a smart coordinator effort with anything you have requested. If you run for president of the village, you have my vote and I will even campaign for you. You know business and you probably are a business person.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:48 PM

Since Lake St. streetscaping is on the consent agenda at the board meeting tonight, here are a few items of consideration for the village board, public and media.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:46 PM

1. Despite David Pope's claim, there is no recommendation in the 2005 Greater Downtown Master Plan for physically linking or unifying the three business districts. Despite David Pope's claim, there is no recommendation of any streetscaping comprised of bricks streets, slate walks and granite curbs. In fact, it recommends very conventional materials. Bring the GDMP and ask Pope for specific sources of his claim.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:45 PM

2. Given Ray Johnson's claim that Lake St. water/sewer infrastructure is aging and in need of replacement, please request the current VOP water/sewer inventory and 5-year Capital Improvement Plan, which ranks the need for village-wide infrastructural improvements. Water/sewer replacement is not based only on age, but pipe material, pipe condition and condition of above street.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:44 PM

Done, don't be disappointed. If the board didn't know what Pope was doing, then there is certainly a problem, but that doesn't mean everyone on the board can't still approve wasteful spending projects. Taxpayers really don't care or it requires taxpayers to learn what is going on with their money. Either way, don't expect the board to tell anyone. The W.J.'s post sections seems to be the only place to learn what is going on.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:44 PM

3. Request substantiation of all proposed streetscaping financial costs, including debt obligations, as well as the village's financial capacity and sources. There are no TIF funds or grant funds available.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:38 PM

Done, you aren't missing anything. Pope spends 108,000 dollars and someone did get something for it, just not Oak Park taxpayers.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:33 PM

Done from Oak Park, you aren't missing anything. That's the way things are currently done in Oak Park. The board doesn't know, Johnson plays the public relations fixer and Pope moves to his next adventure with taxpayers money. Big deal taxpayers think, it's only 108,000 thousand dollars spent on something Oak Park never had the money to back up to get the grant.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:24 PM

"I'm disappointed that so much time and effort was spent for multiple grants, multiple times," Johnson said. He believes the process should have been run by the board earlier. "Certainly the village board was not strongly engaged. We didn't find out about the grant application until it was submitted. That was a process that cannot happen again." Back the truck up! Seriously? Proposal wasn't run by the board? Which board? Am I missing something here?

Road Warrior from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:21 PM

I know that brick roads can look nice, but seriously, do they really make for a more pleasurable drive. Even at slow speeds they are noisy. I avoid them altogether with my bike. Lastly, as more and more people get on-board computers, they will know they are still in Oak Park without having color coordinated streets to tell them so!

Tired of Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 1:09 PM

This project still reminds of the Beach Boys song,"Oh, Wouldn't it be Nice..". C'mon VOP board. It won't be long before our government has to start thinking like Greece at the rate we are taking on debt. Spend what you have to, but don't saddle us with debt that will force us to move to cheaper suburbs.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 12:21 PM

"I believed based upon the input of the village president that we were in a very strong position to receive some funds". Ray Johnson should've known better then to expend staff time and consultant fees on Pope's vision quest. USDOT isn't going to fund a middle-high income community's water/sewer improvements, as that's the role of local property taxes. Also, cosmetic expenses such as brick streets and slate walks have nothing to do with transit-oriented design. Dupe

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