Madison St. planning should be village board priority

Opinion

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Dear Village President and Board of Trustees,

We are writing to request that the village board make the redevelopment of Madison Street one of its top priorities for 2006, and, further, to develop a much-needed Madison Street master plan to guide development along this important corridor.

We have lived on the 500 block of Carpenter Avenue for almost exactly two years, having purchased here because we loved the house and the community. Our property's proximity to Madison Street was a liability that we chose to ignore. But, as we are very aware by now, the problems and challenges presented by Madison Street cannot be ignored. In comparison to Forest Park, Oak Park's stretch of Madison is positively shameful: a dirty, low-rent, high-speed thoroughfare that looks worse and worse each year. It's so unpleasant that we avoid walking down Madison in Oak Park if at all possible.

But we spend a lot of time (and money!) on Madison in Forest Park: Its restaurant, retail and residential mix, combined with wide sidewalks and slow traffic make walking, dining and shopping pleasant. We would encourage Oak Park to rise to the challenge presented by our neighbor to the west. Madison in Oak Park should be at least as desirable a place to spend time on as Madison in Forest Park.

We are big supporters of development on Madison, given its current blighted condition, but we believe that this development should be guided by a thoughtful plan that increases the beauty and economic prosperity of Madison and environs for years to come. This is planning that needs to be carefully overseen by the village, not by developers such as John Schiess and Alex Troyanovsky.

It needs to address issues of parking, traffic, neighborhood character, public services, property values and, most important of all, quality of life, in order to assure that community interests are advanced over purely economic interests. As you know, these are matters of particular concern right now to those of us who live in the vicinity of Madison Street, Oak Park Avenue, Grove and Carpenter Streets.

As we can see from Forest Park's success, Madison Street has so much potential.

Let's work together as a village to ensure that Madison is redeveloped in a way that will make all of us proud?#34;and happy to walk down it and support its quality businesses.

Jennifer Spreitzer and Jonathan Aronoff
Oak Park

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