Oak Parkers should unite against festival fees

Opinion: Columns

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By W.T. Maxwell

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Opinion regarding "Village sticks festivals with big fees" [News, Aug. 8]:

Oak Parkers enjoy their festivals and maybe this is finally something that the majority of Oak Parker's can come together on. The village paid $26K a month for Divvy, no complaints. Docking stations left behind when Divvy left, taking up parking spaces, no complaints.

Festival-goers need to understand there are costs incurred putting on events and should not be passed off on taxpayers. Of course, it doesn't seem what is being assessed for losing some parking spaces would add up to so much although since it's parking being complained about, why aren't taxpayers complaining about two new pay stations between Forest Avenue and Marion Street that recently were replaced when some village staff person got the idea that parkers could give away a space with 10 minutes left on it like in Chicago? That move closed the loophole. Absolute genius on the village staff member's contribution.

Parkers now need to remember their license plate, using a machine that is more complicated and causing a backup of parkers waiting to pay with a picture of their license plate on their cellphone. No complaints from the festival-goers.

When it comes to a few thousand dollars and festival-goers being concerned whether they're going to have another wine or beer at the event, then it's time to start joining forces over the few thousand dollars village staff would like to have. Not the cost of schools, or even a pool, will bring out as many as having festivities jeopardized.

I don't think festival-goers need to worry about festivals going away. The event organizers will work something out with the unnamed village staff and come to a fair street tax and that money will end up in some fund and used for something.

Trustee Simone Boutet echoed Trustee Bob Tucker's comments, saying the fees were never approved by the board. "The staff is authorized to charge for barricades and police overtime and whatever it takes to clean up and manage the events; we have never authorized for lost parking revenue," she said. She argued that the Thursday Night Out event likely brings in additional revenue from those parking in village-owned parking garages and other metered spots in the downtown area.

Boutet noted that the new parking fee is being charged not through the special events ordinance but under the construction section of the village ordinance. "I would say it's a misinterpretation of the ordinance," she said. "I don't want to be digging into other inapplicable codes to make things worse for people."

The other week in Wednesday Journal, Trustee Simone Boutet seemed to be portrayed as a person who claims plots are taking place. She now sounds like a person worth paying attention to as a trustee.

W.T. Maxwell is a longtime Oak Park resident.

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