By Dan Haley
Odds and end with some a bit odder than others:
About those crosswalks: The Arts District down on Harrison Street now has fun and, OK, maybe a little gaudy, crosswalks to go along with its collapsed building. The crosswalks are geometric, multicolored, and made out of some sort of plastic bonhomie.
I like them. And even more, I like that Village Manager Tom Barwin seems to be solely responsible for them. I even like that the village paid $11,000 to install them.
Lighten up, folks. Times are tough but these are not the end days. We can still have some fun. Do some different things that are really just a whim and whimsy.
As I understand this, Barwin was traveling somewhere, saw crosswalks kind of like our new ones, and brought the idea back. You can bet your bippy he wasn't in a foreign city saying, "I can't wait to take this crosswalk proposal back to Oak Park. Let's see, I can run it by the Public Arts Commission to see if they like the colors. And then I get to see if the Transportation Commission prefers triangles or circles in the design. Oh, and then I'll bring it to the village board and they can send it over to the Plan Commission."
I want a village manager with a small discretionary budget that he can use to seed intriguing projects he thinks are important or that capture his fancy. We need a village manager who is engaged and not just pushing levers all day long.
So now we have "Tom Barwin's Crosswalks." I wonder what he is thinking of next?
About that building: The village board, with stunning alacrity, plunked down a million bucks Monday night to buy another piece of the Monopoly board in Downtown Oak Park. I'll hold my thoughts until I understand this better. However, it does give me pause when the village board buys a piece of land and each trustee nods and says the purchase was for "key strategic reasons." Then the trustees say that, starting next week, they will publicly review the Downtown Master Plan, with some suggesting tweaks and some seemingly ready for a wholesale review. How do they know what is strategic if they don't have full confidence in the underlying plan?
The mother of all plans: Village President David Pope's eyes actually twinkled and sparked — at least that is how it looked on my flat-screen — Monday evening when he leapt from the review of the 2005 Downtown Master Plan to that Nirvana place of actually tackling a wholesale review of the 1990 Comprehensive Plan. It would take years of lengthy meetings, tens of thousands of dollars, traffic consultants galore, visioning and bickering, and David Pope, would be as happy as a pig in slop. "Ah, a Comprehensive Plan."
Strictly personal: I want the Gymnastics Center for my neighborhood. The park district is about to close on the old Aldi's at Humphrey and Lake. The park board is about to decide if they'll use the grocery store with the enviable parking lot for the new and expanded and wildly popular gymnastics program or if they will relocate their vehicle storage and maintenance facility there and expand gymnastics on Madison Street.
Since my neighborhood already has a gigantic public works building on South Boulevard, I vote for cute kids tumbling and cavorting.
OPRFAYPNCLBGWB: Once again OPRF failed to make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) under NCLB (No Child Left Behind) created by George W. Bush. Anybody left who cares? I'm all in favor of accountability for all of us in education. This train wreck of a program is not accountability.