We disagree with fellow Oak Parkers who oppose the effort to cap the Eisenhower Expressway where it cuts through our village.
The resulting new public space has many potential benefits including decreasing air, noise and heat pollution and increasing availability of recreational and community space. Commercial uses would also have many benefits such as job creation and increased government tax revenue.
In addition, as envisioned, the project would include improvements to three CTA stations along the Ike, and creation of more parking space allowing commuters to park their cars and take public transportation to the Loop. The entire region would benefit.
Clearly some disagree. Indeed, one man's treasure is another man's "pork."
Our elected officials have the job of sorting it all out. But simply slapping the "pork" label on a project as a means of rejecting it demeans the elected officials, the communities they represent and citizens like us who are actively engaged in the village's effort to explore the feasibility of the cap.
Since "pork" dollars are regularly used to pay for such things as ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, playgrounds, senior centers, parks, libraries and schools, most of us benefit from "pork" projects.
We agree that there must be more efficient ways to allocate limited resources. There are plenty of worthy spending priorities. But bashing elected officials for playing by existing rules to bring our own federal or state tax dollars back home is unfortunate and unproductive. It does nothing to change the system.
Neither one of us agrees with every single position each of them have taken, but having worked with each of them in the past, we recognize that we are lucky to have excellent federal officials representing us.
Our U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Barak Obama care about Oak Park's needs. They are friends of our village.
But even when we lay parochial considerations aside, we appreciate their progressive leadership on a wide range of national and international social and economic issues.
Of course someone with competing priorities could deem any of those issues unimportant. What then? Probably more indignant letters to the editor from someone else who'd rather legislators steer the resources to address some other problem.
Barbara A. Otto and
Mark E. Peysakhovich