Million dollars later, let's look at Downtown Oak Park plan

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Monday evening, the Oak Park village board reviewed the 2005 Downtown Oak Park master plan. This a week after the board had agreed to plunk down a million bucks in scarce TIF funds to buy a building on Westgate that it deemed "strategic" enough to overpay for.

My real estate calculus is simple: This building sold for a million dollars in 2007, the blowsiest moment of the whole infernal bubble. Four years later, that building cannot be worth the same $1 million. Nothing is worth what it was worth in 2007. Our village just paid a whole lot for "strategic."

My history lesson is also simple. The village, like most government entities, has overpaid for virtually every parcel of strategic land it has ever purchased. I like government, so I'm not going all Ron Paul on you at this late date.

How did the village board conclude last week that 1133 Westgate was strategic when it didn't review the master plan until this week? Obviously the board thinks it needs this newest crown jewel as part of a yet-to-be-revealed, yet-to-be-created development(s) that also includes the Colt parking lot and the other surface parking lots that sit between Lake Street and North Boulevard. These are all parcels the village has paid millions to acquire. References were made Monday that the retail development that will eventually somehow come to the Lake Street frontage would also include public parking.

Yet Monday evening, in what was at best a cursory and self-congratulatory review of the 2005 plan, two trustees and the village president all said plainly that the 3,000 additional parking spaces envisioned in the plan over a 20-year period were too many. Trustee John Hedges referenced a "new economy" in questioning the added parking. Trustee Ray Johnson said the village had to "change the mindset" of Oak Parkers to induce them to walk, bike or take the el to downtown, then suggested Oak Parkers "always say we need more parking." Village President David Pope said directly that downtown doesn't need 3,000 more parking spaces.

But it needs to own another building?

Village Planner Craig Failor and Business Services Manager Loretta Daly both nodded yes Monday night when asked to confirm that "term sheets" were forthcoming this year from "preferred developers" for the Colt site on Lake Street and the large property at the corner of South Boulevard and Harlem. A "term sheet," I'd say, is something better than a nod but less than a shovel in the ground. There was talk that the apartment tower at Lake and Forest could begin construction a year from now.

We shall see. The economy continues to suffer. Private capital is harder to assemble than government purchased parcels.

The powers that be need to accept that there is earned skepticism about their development acumen. Critics need to accept responsibility for their past elected officials having queered a deal that would have launched a wave of positive development across the downtown by Seymour Taxman back in the heady pre-collapse days.

It is troubling that when Hedges asked for a list of factors that might have changed since the 2005 plan was adopted that no economic analysis was offered, no mention of online retail was made, that the possibility of fewer expensive parking spaces wasn't raised, that the timing of the end of the TIF wasn't factored in.

It still feels as if we are stumbling forward in difficult times when wins are going to be hard won.

Contact:
Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

Reader Comments

81 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2011 12:27 AM

Silly, making mention on how Chicago and other municipalities in Illinois are doing is a good observation. How is Lake Forest and Kenilworth doing? As for electricity heating sidewalks, that is counter-productive when trying to be a green village. Shoveling snow and using sand is a better way. Riding bicycles is a better way to get around town too, but not very practical when you have 10 shopping bags of food to ride home on a bicycle.

Silly  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 11:19 PM

Blue stone sidewalks and pavers make a community alive a vibrant. Have you been to Marion St? If not, you are missing something. The fact that they are heated is hardly a major cost. Its just like heating tile in your home. Pretty easy concept. Run a coil beneath the stone and turn on when needed for snow/ice removal. Makes sense to me for ecological reasons. Less salt and shoveling.

Ernest Hemingway from Six Feet Under  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 11:15 PM

Heated bluestone sidewalks and narrow minds

Silly  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 11:10 PM

Oak Park has lived within its shrunk budget for the last 3 if not 4 years. Our Village board has had the hard task of cutting spending and refocused on revenue growth. Tough times call for tough measures. Job well down compared to many municipalities through out ILL including Chicago and the State itself!!!

Silly  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 11:05 PM

"I am not negative on OP,....." -Murtagh 2011. Really? Since when? @ C Chesney, I wasnt saying the strategic purchases dont cost the Village, but rather the private developments that are stalled or delayed due to the economy downturn.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 8:47 PM

Silly - I did not say that OP was going to crumble. What I said is that there are considerable risk in the current economy that can lead to debt. Debt has caused the meltdown of business, states, municipalities, and even churches and non-profit. I am not negative on OP, but I also am not pollyanna about it.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 8:40 PM

Craig 6600132 was me. Hand a data entry flop.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 7:35 PM

(cont.) ... then why not redo every street, regardless of cost? If the purchase of 1133 Westgate is worth $1M, than why not purchase all downtown buildings as being strategic? If the goal is 'more' property tax revenue, how much is 'enough'? If the goal is always 'more', then at what point have we reached our goal?

6600132 from oak park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 7:33 PM

Craig - interesting information -- offers great insight into why our residents' taxes are so high. I like most others in OP tend to think only of operating cost and salaries (police, DPW, etc.) as the expenses we pay. The hidden costs; in this case interest expense, are a large part of the tax burden that is rarely or ever discussed. Thanks for your research.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 7:29 PM

The basis for village development policy is based on the myth of 'more'. Any development perceived to result in 'more' tax revenue trumps other considerations, such as zoning and preservation. What this policy ignores is the ethic of 'enough'. How much development is 'enough' to satisfy the goal of 'more' tax revenues? If a 20-story Sertus development is justified, then why not 40 stories? If $7M for a Marion St redo is justified, then why not re

Craig Chesney from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 6:45 PM

@Silly - I agree that Marion Street is a wonderful place to walk around. But you are incorrect that private investments don't cost the Village money. Anyone can look at TIF docs on the Village website. http://oak-park.us/Finance/index.html The colt building purchase was 5 mil,2.6 for part of westgate, 980k for the last piece. In '06 242k in fees for colt, '07 430k for colt interest cost, in '08 and '09 600k in interest costs for colt. That is almost 2mil in interest payments.

Curious George  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 6:08 PM

@Silly - If the new private investments are providing enough total tax revenue to fund taxing bodies, why did D97 need a referendum?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 6:07 PM

Damn right, Silly. I am not voting for Murtagh either.

Silly  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 5:50 PM

Lets see......Dist 200 has 80 Million in the bank and Dist 97 just passed a referendum. Hmmmm TIF's are designed to attract new business and investment to help with total tax revenue. Makes sense to me. Its no Joak

j.oakpark  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 5:31 PM

@silly, it pains me to say this: you are right. tif funds can only be spent in the tif district. Let me ask this, if the funds are not spent, where do they end up? Let me answer my own question: back with the taxing bodies, I am pretty sure is the answer... but not all of the funds, if a I recall. Gosh now that would be horrible, the taxing bodies getting the money that they were due in the first place.

Silly  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 5:15 PM

Of Course, Murtagh thinks Oak Park is going to crumble. What's new? This is not alarming coming from someone who has been crying wolf his entire life in OP! The infrastructure is completed every yr as it has been for as long as I remember. The private developments that have yet to be built are a product of the economy. Doesnt cost the Village moneys that would require borrowing. Taxes are here to stay, welcome to America. I will not vote for john Murtagh or any one that he endorses.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 4:54 PM

The board's sanguine disposition may be putting put its resident's at high risk. The board faces an infrastructure bill, a high rate of new development failures, resident rage over taxes, hi-retail turnover, weakening of employee equity, the run-out of Tifs, and a expensive and risky downtown plan. If all these issues collide, debt is guaranteed. Despite the bad news, we continue to receive replies to serious questions based on employee outlooks that echo board wishes. It's getting scary.

Silly  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 3:19 PM

TIF 101: Only TIF dollars can be spent in a TIF district. You with me Q? N Marion & S Marion did indeed have new pipes/sewers replaced and utilities upgraded. The amount is insignificant in my eyes as to the cost for the final material used. It is /was well worth the upgrade. Just walk down Marion and tell me its not awesome!!! Yes I used that word. I love the idea of OP Ave and Lake as well being done in pavers. Take a look at Village hall at the renderings on the windows by the Clerks office

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 12:41 PM

john murtagh great catch on the X. One person calling out another and doing the same thing the person is calling out the person for. That must be Silly just being funny using the X as his new moniker.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 12:24 PM

Gee, X! Isn't demanding that a person, using a pseudonym, reveal their real name on the hypocritical side when you use a pseudonym as well?

X from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 11:47 AM

@Waiting (Transparently) I am moved by your commitment to transparency. How about you talk the talk? What's your name? Gutless.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 26th, 2011 1:44 AM

Silly, you are just being silly now. If the boards priorities are buying a building for some future project without even knowing what they will do with the building is your idea of spending on priorities while the sewers need serious repair or replacement on the North/East side then you don't have your priorities in line. That also goes for the 5 million make over on Marion. Silly, that's to bad you missed out on what I said would be something really good to spend money.

Silly  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 11:28 PM

All of that and you didnt even answer my question. You rambled on about how the Village misspent money, but not how and what YOU would spend it on. The Trustees vote on how the money is to be spent. They must make priorities just like we all do with our home/life budgets. I would say they are doing an excellent job. They have reduced the overall budget significantly YOY, going back 5 or 6 yrs.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 11:28 PM

Silly, I haven't even really touched the surface of what I think would be the best usage of taxpayers money to benefit the taxpayers, the people. You just don't need to by a fleet of vehicles because you want to spend money so it shows next time how you need it when you are trying to get more out of taxpayers. Why not try something new. Reduce the tax burden by not spending money just because you can get it. Government is not set up to make a profit but they don't need to be in the red either.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 11:24 PM

Silly, I know a lot of the Police on Oak Park work hard at fighting criminal activity. There just isn't enough money to get more Officers on the street, and there should be. So that is an area that I would welcome the village to fine more money to spend. Also, the Fire Department could use more people in their department. Those two departments of our government serve the people and they do it very well and they deserve more investment because it's a very good investment for the people.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 11:22 PM

Silly, as for spending 5 million dollars on Marion street, my question is why? What is the benefit to the people? A pretty street, yes, but is it the best place to put it, no. If they have 5 million dollars burning through their hands, then make a difference. That money spent on the "Art District", to pave the streets, create a look of a little village in its own and draw in real artists would draw in tourists. Why have a shabby part of town and call it the art district when it's not.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 11:19 PM

Silly, I'm not saying the board members lack in education, I just don't think they really can determine what is a real price to pay. Everyone likes to think big government, big money. That kind of thinking can bankrupt governments. People are in positions to protect that from happening but when you have people in those positions that have no experience being able to perform that job correctly then they shouldn't be there if they really want to serve the people.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 11:16 PM

Silly, after the little fiasco that took place of writing checks to a consultant just under 25 thousand so no board approval was necessary leaves questions on why that was done that way. Since the board needs to approve anything spent over 25 thousand is obviously put in place to make sure bids are in line and the village is not over paying for a project. To make that happen, the board members need to be smart enough with knowing how to compare bids and what is really being offered.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 11:14 PM

Silly, with computers, it would be simple enough to also get an idea on what projects in question have cost other towns so when the bids do come back and if they are in line with costs to other towns, then board members can contact the town and ask who the work was performed by. This would be a good idea to do if the current bid to Oak Park is 1 million dollars and the actual cost to other towns have been 40 percent less.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 11:11 PM

Silly, you always bring humor, but I can tell you want an answer. I didn't know the board is suppose to seat around and think up ideas on what they should spend money on. I always thought it was a group of people who discuss the business of Oak Park, and if there is something that needs attention, such as alleys needing to be filled or sewers to be checked then they decide that it would be a prudent move to start the bid process.

Waiting (Transparently) from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 10:24 PM

A conversation in a church parking lot over doughnuts, "it doesn't get more transparent than that" says Salzman. Actually, it does: a plan that has been put forth and commented on, stuck to, and is being implemented dutifully rather than spending a million dollars with questionable linkage to the plan, which has been at least partly disavowed. In other words, I have my doubts that anything the Board does will reduce my tax burden now or in the future. Show me. I'm transparently waiting.

Silly  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 12:51 PM

Q, one question for you. Since you think the board spends tax money on whatever they choose, how would you like them to spend the money? Their job, as a Trustee, is to vote on how tax dollars get spent. If they spent it on what you agree with, is it then OK with you? Just wondering.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 1:16 AM

Hi john murtagh, I always enjoy your postings and I'm probably about 99.9 percent in agreement with what you post. You have a lot of very good information. I'm glad the W.J. has provided a comment section for their articles and I must not have been aware of how much the 3 Wisemen spend because I haven't noticed it until recently. Just doesn't seem to be wise to be spending tax payers money on whatever then want at this time, but I suppose they want to while they still can.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 12:57 AM

Sorry Q - was not insinuating that you had trouble righting or reading. I thought you might have posted on the wrong subject -- Street Signs. Guess the timing of the street signs had nothing to do with the Westgate fiasco, etc. My error.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 25th, 2011 12:52 AM

john murtagh, Oak Parkers like to thing they are very literate, so I'm confident that they can read articles from the W.J.. In the article regarding signs, the time frame is another 6 years before they are do by the Fed.Gov.. With the art district 33 thousands dollars, that was thought up and done by Barwin, according to the story. As for is this the only thing that has been put together? Not at all. You been posting for weeks. How many things have been done in the last few weeks?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 10:05 PM

Q - sounds like you are writing about OP's new signs. No issue there as far as I am concerned. Fed has been forcing improved signage all over the country. Timing is issue. That article sounded to me like the village wanted to give the residents a sense that it was there idea for OP improvement. Kinda the same thing as the street crossing designs in the Art District. Politicians always believe that when the residents get enraged, you need to give them something. That never works!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 10:01 PM

Why is parking free on the mall after 6 p.m. and all day Sunday? There is no reason for that. The lots were filled after 6 p.m.. The price is very fair compared to downtown and it's obvious the demand is there. It will not chase away the demand. You don't even need to hire meter maids after 6 p.m..

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 9:58 PM

john murtagh, the board members can serve their term. Most seem to be there for the coffee and donuts and being able to say they made a difference.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 9:55 PM

Jim Coughlin, the majority of people who disagree on here about projects are disagreeing with Jim, Barwin and David. Signs and streets are handled by Jim, Barwin gets the checks through and David explains to the board members why they need to do it now. There isn't anything illegal about it, and it all seems to be for the good of tax payers, but it just doesn't seem to be on top of the important list of things to do for Oak Park tax payers. We need more Police and FireFighter/Paramedics.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 9:24 PM

The original DTOP TIF was created in 1983, and scheduled for termination after 23 years (2006). It was extended by the village board for another 12 years, and will terminate in 2018. It can no longer be extended by the TIF statute. The village costs currently proposed by the village board involving 1133 Westgate, Station St., Colt Bldg. site, etc. far exceed the remaining balance of the DTOP TIF fund, and will need to be funded with municipal bonds or increased property taxes.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 8:27 PM

Hi Q - my personal belief is that elected officials should not be removed or recalled based on judgment issues. Once elected they should get to serve their term. Embezzlement, fraud, malfeasance, etc. are remove/recall offenses but only after conviction.

Shemp  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 8:23 PM

Moe, Larry & Curly

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 8:20 PM

I think the first time I saw the 3 Wiseman used was in reference to the owners of PSA - the intermediary that bridged the Westgate purchase for the village. Since then I see the reference being used as if it was the board being referred to. Perhaps; some are using 3 Wiseman in reference To Pope, Johnson, and Lueck(a woman), the senior and most outspoken of the board members who vote together on every development issue.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 8:14 PM

Hi Jim - I assume they are banking on a big increase in commercial property and sales taxes. I am not sure that those taxes can do both infrastructure improvement and tax relief for homeowners. I suspect that the village has not yet made the calc -- or has not released it.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 6:29 PM

Who are the 3 Wiseman?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 5:28 PM

Jim Coughlin, a big tax hike and unloading employees as long as the 3 Wisemen stay, will go over just fine in Oak Park. Tax payers in Oak Park are to busy doing other things then to bother with it.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 3:20 PM

John, It's highly unlikely that the DTOP TIF will be extended. The board needs the support of all the local taxing bodies and that would be a tough sell. In order to finish the DTOP Master Plan, the board will have to draw for the General Fund. That would have to be offset by massive cuts in personnel and services or a huge tax increase. How do think that would play in Oak Park neighborhoods that are dealing with crumbling sewers, streets,sidewalks and alleys?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 2:37 PM

It seems that the majority of the people posting on here do not favor the way village management and board members are doing things for Oak Park tax payers. If you aren't nice, they all may quit.. Well maybe not, so if you don't like it, get together off of a website and take up votes to remove these people from trusting them with your tax money. If they are doing anything illegal, I would think they would be able to be voted out and not have to wait for more wasted spending.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 24th, 2011 2:24 PM

Of the factors listed by Dan, the most important is probably the length of the TIF. It runs out before the the Greater Downtown Plan is done. That means that the board would have to seek a new TIF. That is a challenge. After a decade of total focus on Downtown, there will be a lot of pressure to focus attention on the rest of the village. That's the problem with a Plan becoming a "guide". Guides don't have calendars or calculators and don't warn you when reality appears.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 4:26 PM

Thanks Enuf. I wasn't expecting a reply to my question from Ray, or from Adam for the question I posed him.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 4:14 PM

@JohnMurtagh ... in case Trustee Johnson does not respond to your question, you may find how the Village Code addresses permit requirements for Farmers' Market at www.oak-park.us/public/pdfs/Farmers Market/farmers_market_ordinance.pdf. Permit applications are provided only to those who sell produce from their own farm, orchard, vineyard or garden, or acting on behalf of an affidavit grower for the production of the produce.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 3:22 PM

It is most unfortunate that a lively and interesting discussion between residents and our elected officials has been disrupted by the same gadflys. I wish the forum moderator would take action and allow us to continue without being subjected to nonsense,ridicule and bully tactics. It appears that for now both Adam Salzman and Ray Johnson have stopped commenting and contributing. I'm sure they have other matters that need their attention but do appreciate the willingness to share their views.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 3:14 PM

@EpicLutz: my point exactly. I need a firewall between shopping for local produce / eating donuts / listening to bluegrass music with my kids and having ex parte discussions re. straw buyer transactions / developer subsidies / TIF balances with elected officials on Saturday morn. I don't want to see Pope, Johnson, Lueck, et al at Farmers' Market anymore than I want to see them en masse at youth baseball & soccer games, block parties, and other non-village hall activities.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 2:57 PM

Totally agree with you,Epic. I think the community is better served when the trustees are willing to go on the record with the Wednesday Journal or via this forum. It would also protect an elected official or public employee by making certain they are not being misquoted or their statements misrepresented. I understand that trustees are already devoting a considerable amount of time in order to fulfill their duties but would also recognize the mutual benefits of participating on this forum.

epic lulz  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 2:21 PM

Regarding the 1133 property, I've yet to see an adequate explanation as to why a straw purchaser was used and why at such a high purchase price. I'd prefer that such an explanation be made publicly, rather than one-on-one at the Farmer's Market.

epic lulz  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 2:20 PM

Haley hits it on the head. It's pretty striking to see (someone posting as) Adam Salzman, whom I've otherwise had respect for, argue that it's appropriate to make large strategic purchases in the absense of a plan ("plan or no plan"). It's even more striking to see him follow in the footsteps of (someone posting as) David Pope in insulting and bullying his critics and demanding their censor.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 1:44 PM

Epic - I have no plans to run for any OP elected office. Also I have never actively campaigned, gave financial support to any candidate, and have had no contact with Coughlin, Schwab, Milstein, epic lulz and Enuf is Enuf other than through WJ Comments. I did have coffee with Gary Schwab once. I have also had coffee with others including VMA members.

Silly  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 1:44 PM

Irregardless of when and how much info was provided to the residents is a moot point. The residents dont vote at the board table, they vote at the election booth. The votes have been cast at the booth, now its time to let the leaders vote at the table. As much as coughlin and murtagh want to, they just cant vote on these issues. Sorry. I guess you ought to get your campaign financing started now.

Silly  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 1:39 PM

I spoke too soon.

Silly  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 1:38 PM

murtagh might want to take a page from coughlin's book and law low for a while. @Enuf, I suppose you want the musicians to have permits too? Farmers market doesnt exist with out the Village. How can anyone in their right mind think its a bad thing that trustees are available for community interaction? Only the same handful of residents who are never happy with anything anyways.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 1:27 PM

Are Adam Salzman, Ray Johnson and Bob Tucker able to provide examples of how they have honored their campaign pledge of greater transparency in Village government? Would they agree that taxpayers and residents may not have been provided with enough information regarding the purchase of the 1133 Westgate building? A lack of details may have been a contributing factor to the opinions expressed that some type of chicanery was involved. The more we know. They better were served.

Epic Putz  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 1:24 PM

Have to agree with the Trustee re the over-the-top conspiracy mongering going on here. I may not like that the village is buying up more property, but that does not mean I think nefarious motivations are behind it. Nonetheless, this is infinitely more interesting than the gun control column at this point. Personally, would be nice if people other than those backed by or in cohoots with the likes of Murtaugh, Coughlin, Schwab, Milstein, epic lulz and Enuf is Enuf run against the VMA next time...

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 1:20 PM

Adam, for the record, are you accusing me having taken part in any of the activities ("There have been implications of conspiracies, illegal activity, and actually endangering citizens' lives.") that you reported as being expressed in Reader Comments? I have always restricted myself to questioning the board's decision, past and present, in an appropriate manner. You might want to study up on the difference between free speech and character assasination.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 12:56 PM

Ray, can any village public service organization reserve space at the Farmer's Market for public service events?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 12:56 PM

@RayJohnson ... the intent of Farmers' Market is for buying things from the farmers who grow them, surrounded by the sounds of live bluegrass music, the smell of freshly made donuts and the profusion and variety of nature's bounty. Village Hall has staff and regular hours for providing public service. Regardless of your expressed benevolent intent, the presence of the village board may be construed as political and self-promoting, and rightfully not permitted.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 12:53 PM

Adam Salzman, I like the idea that people can express their thoughts on these forums and as long as there is no swearing or hate projected to others, then it makes a very nice place for people to express with each other. As for the latest article from Dan Haley, he is on target with everything. I certainly hope that doesn't change the villages plan for next year to put a brick street in front of the W.J., but I don't think Dan would sell out his beliefs for bricks.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 12:50 PM

Ray Johnson, when you asked what was on page 2 during the heated battle over how Barwin kept payments under 25,000 so the board didn't need to approve it. Did you ever get your answer, and if so, care to share?

Adam Salzman from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 12:49 PM

John, I am glad you enjoyed the response. I stand by it. Your mean-spirited rhetoric demeans you and the message boards you populate. You deserve to be called out. Note to Mr. Haley: The rhetoric on this message board has escalated notably since the purchase of 1113 Westgate. There have been implications of conspiracies, illegal activity, and actually endangering citizens' lives. This is skirting pretty close to the edge. You should examine your unwillingness to moderate these discussions.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 12:40 PM

@ Enuf: I think its obvious we won't have a permit to display, since we are not selling anything. We are at the market to engage with citizens. Period. We can answer questions, have a civil discussion, help direct you to the right department if you have an issue, etc. I don't call that propaganda. I call it public service.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 12:22 PM

@AdamSalzman ... your remarks re. Mr Murtagh are entirely misplaced and unfounded. Mr. Murtagh has consistently provided comments with civility and respectfulness, unlike many others. I agree that 'bully' is a term for someone who hurls nasty, borderline defamatory comments from a safe space where no one can effectively respond, and often applies to trustees at village board meetings. Spend more time reading the IL Open Meetings Act and Farmers' Market Ordinance, than assailing

john murtagh  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 12:14 PM

Neat reply, Adam. By any chance do you use Silly as a pseudonym?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 12:11 PM

@AdamSalzman ... I am very disappointed with the inappropriate and illegal use of the Farmers' Market by the village board, a last refuge from local politics. According to village ordinance, the Farmers' Market is a designated area where permitted growers and producers may sell directly to the public in accordance with Village regulations and 505 Illinois Compiled Statutes 70/1. Please be ready tomorrow to display your permit and explain how a village board booth is in compliance.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 11:50 AM

because it drives traffic to their website. But I think you are a rather cowardly sort. There's a term for someone who hurls nasty, borderline defamatory comments from a safe space where no one can effectively respond. The term is "bully." You, sir, are a bully.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 11:48 AM

Mr. Murtagh-- so if you regularly use this space to propound your mean-spirited conspiracy theorizing, you should be able to do it for free. But if someone disagrees with you, they would be charged? I notice a pattern with you, sir-- if your argument is too weak to challenge an opposing poster on the substance, you resort to nasty, irrelevant attacks that bear no relationship to the issue. Evidently this publication is more than happy to let you do it (Cont'd)

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 11:41 AM

The WJ should charge the VMA 1,000 word posts advertisement. I won't be there at the market. The event is a bit unsavory now that I find out the Board is using village events for their self-promotion. Nice to have the advantage of getting out the VMA message of Responsible Government Transparency free.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 11:02 AM

But I would ask those individuals who are so quick to attack what are plainly efforts to maximize the commercial potential of downtown-- what is YOUR vision? What is YOUR plan? Share it with us. There are plenty of opportunities. Tomorrow, 7:30 a.m.-Noon at the Farmer's Market. Hope to see you all there. It may be colder in the Pilgrim Church parking lot than that warm space in front of your computer. But you might enjoy a face-to-face conversation. It doesn't get more transparent than that.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 10:55 AM

which is one of the few tools we have at our disposal to attempt to ease the property tax burden. Again, plan or no plan-- this is a responsibility of our Board in a time like this one. As President Obama travels the country lobbying for bold initiatives to stimulate the economy, here in Oak Park, our local government must also do its part. It is easy to criticize and find fault with past imperfections. And their are plenty of imperfections to pluck from the past and harp upon. (cont'd)

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 10:51 AM

the status of the larger plan by simply registering my disagreement with that premise. Plan or no plan, Colt / Westgate is an important site. Plan or no plan, we need to pursue solid development opportunities when they arise in this economy--because they are rare, as your article notes. I find it interesting how quickly the conversation in this forum pivots from tax saturation, which was the topic due jour during election season, to poo-poo'ing the pursuit of development (cont'd)

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: September 23rd, 2011 10:47 AM

Anyone who would like to come and discuss development strategy, the Master Plan, etc. should come to the Farmer's Market tomorrow, where the Village Board will be manning a booth between 7:30 a.m. and noon. It is no substitute for a clear-eyed economic analysis of what's feasible going forward in terms of development--I will grant Mr. Haley and Mr. Murtagh that point. On the flip-side, I would respond to Mr. Haley's point that you cannot make a "strategic" purpose regardless of (cont'd)

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 21st, 2011 12:59 AM

I almost went out of my seat when the village planner said that the 2005 Greater Downtown Plan was really just a "guide". When board members picked up the term, I was aghast. The "Plan" is a strategic vision that has to be monitored full time; not every seven years. Not only do economics change so do demographics,customer preference, building costs, tax impacts, etc. At minimum, a major strategic plan should get executive review and revision at least once a year.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 20th, 2011 11:59 PM

The proposed Taxman superblock project was voted down in Feb. 2006. If approved, 150 condos , 70,000 sf of retail and a 579-space parking garage would have been constructed for occupancy in late-2007, smack in the beginning of the economic recession and abysmal condo market. The result would have been a superblock filled with vacant condos and storefronts. Taxman should be eternally grateful for those who opposed his project, thus sparing him from that nightmare scenario.

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