Lately, Madison Street seems to be in the Oak Park news with increasing regularity ("Along Madison, neighbors worry about crime, 'qualify of life,'" June 29). For the past five years, I have lived within a block of Madison (west of Oak Park Avenue), and in that time, I have watched the quality of life in my quiet neighborhood slowly erode. Unfortunately, unless something is done to alter the direction of development along Madison Street, this deterioration will accelerate significantly, and the proposed project at 827 Madison will alter my neighborhood beyond recognition.
Just this morning, I tried to maneuver onto Madison to a local dry cleaner. It is difficult to access Madison from our small side streets, none of which are equipped with traffic control lights. This becomes even more of a challenge when drivers park their SUVs near intersection corners and block visibility of oncoming vehicles. I have called about these issues many times and have encouraged police to monitor illegal parking along Madison. It has gotten to the point that I no longer shop on Madison unless I can walk to the establishment and even then, I don't feel safe trying to cross the street. It dawned on me that perhaps the reason there is so little ticketing for illegal parking along Madison is that so few "yellow" (no parking) zones are marked clearly, if at all. Perhaps, any and all parking on Madison is legal, but that doesn't make it safe.
If the current problems of traffic, parking and noise aren't enough to discourage shopping or living near Madison Street, just wait until the surrounding neighborhoods feel the impact of the potential development that currently is being discussed for a variety of parcels of land just west of Oak Park Avenue. How many of you realize that one investor is interested in developing over 70,000 square feet of land along the north and south side of Madison Street? Much of the land already has been acquired, and the plans that are being discussed in piecemeal fashion all call for 1 and 2 bedroom condos in 6-story buildings. If you think your quality of life is bad now, stay tuned for it to get even worse.
The only way to stop the deterioration of the quality of life in Oak Park is for everyone to get involved in the public discussions that must accompany these oversized development projects. Let's demand that village management and the Oak Park village board develop a comprehensive master plan for Madison Street. Let's not tolerate the current problems of crime, traffic and loitering that exist along the entirety of Madison Street. Let's take a stand and let's hold both our elected officials and our government's employees accountable for balancing the quality of life of Madison Street's existing neighbors with the requests of outside developers.
D. Jean Brummer