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Feels a bit like Oak Park is playing ping-pong on spending. Village government has spent $10 million to beautify (and replace underground sewers) on two blocks of Marion Street. Then there was the grandiose TIGER grant application to the feds looking for $25.8 million to roll out more bricks and granite across Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue. That grant went nowhere and now Oak Park is sorting out whether in this post-TIF gulley it has any capacity to spend money on feel-good streetscaping projects.
Last week, an intergovernmental pact between the village and the park district to make modest improvements at Oak Park Avenue and Ontario Street went poof when a newly cautious village board pulled the plan off the consent agenda and basically killed it. This was an agreed-upon plan to spend $58,000 (down from $98,000) to do some curb bumpouts at the intersection, simultaneous to the parks overhaul of Scoville Park.
We are fans of local governments coordinating efforts and we know from experience that that corner is a tough one for pedestrians — especially pedestrians looking to get their kids to or from the park. So having the parks and the village plan improvements in common is all good. Following through on promises is also a virtue when building a collaborative spirit is the goal.
So while we appreciate fiscal restraint, we'd have preferred to see the village honor this existing plan before it got budget-busting religion. Seems to us this current board is evolving toward a more conservative attitude when it comes to spending and, given the times, that is a fine thing.
The park district will be fine. Its officials seemed to walk off more bemused than upset at the village's choice. Scoville Park will be lovely when it is complete. And we'll just wait until the village finds its equilibrium on spending.