Oak Park housing is the focus of 'Monopoly'-style forum

West Cook collaborative uses creative format for feedback

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By Louis McGill

Contributing Reporter

The West Cook County Housing Collaborative of the Metropolitan Planning Council will host a community workshop in Oak Park, part of their Homes for a Changing Region Project on Sept. 8. This interactive workshop, which runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association, will allow local residents to voice their opinions on how, and where, the village's residential housing should evolve.

The workshop hopes to engage the public in a creative way, allowing them to participate in an exercise that Nancy Firfer, senior advisor for the project, describes as "like Monopoly." Attendees will form small groups and discuss the future of the village's residential housing. They will do this by placing game pieces, representing various types of housing, on maps of Oak Park.

The maps cover the entire village and two specific "target areas," said Housing Program Manager Tammie Grossman. The areas will be the intersections of Oak Park Avenue and Madison Street and the area around the Oak Park Avenue CTA Blue Line station.

"What we're hoping," said Grossman, "is that we can use this information to develop a long-term program to address the housing needs of the community."

According to Village Trustee Colette Lueck, liaison to the housing program and Oak Park's representative to the Housing Collaborative, workshops like this are a great way to engage people in such a process "because they're so much fun." The visual aspect, she adds, helps people understand.

Lueck said the way the village plans and supports housing is the linchpin of everything in the village, citing housing stock's effect on residents drawn to the area, which in turn affects the schools.

"Anything we can do to keep housing stock strong is a good effort," she said.

Both Grossman and Lueck believe transportation will be important to Oak Park's future. For instance, Lueck cites the ability to get from Oak Park to the Loop quickly and by multiple forms of transportation as something that makes the village appealing.

"As transportation costs rise," Grossman said, "people will be moving toward inner-city suburbs."

While the planning is mostly intended to affect local policies, the plans developed in each of the five West Cook County suburbs in the collaborative will be integrated into a larger plan to guide the area's development as a whole.

"Planning has to be done regionally," said Lueck, "not one small village at a time."

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Killi from Oak Park  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 5:58 PM

Take Your NIMBY Label, I was being satirical. I already know how things work and I am under no illusion. I've been called racist names and racists have tried to even bully me, with no success. Yeah, I'm White and you would think racism just runs one way in Oak Park. I welcome all to walk into Austin, or walk around any part of the East Side of Oak Park in the day or better yet at night.

Take Your NIMBY Label... from OP  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 5:27 PM

@Killi: By the way, thanks for assuming that my neighbors and I are rude (at best) or racists (at worst) and for your helpful little neighborly advice/sermon delivered from your pedestal. Like most Oak Parkers, you probably cry "NIMBY" while looking down your nose and feeling safe knowing the next housing project won't be going up near your home and potentially posing a risk to you and your kids. Typical.

Take Your NIMBY label.... from OP  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 5:17 PM

@Killi: Gee, we did that...and had a number of new neighbors and their children show up to our block party, which was a welcome addition to the block. At the same time, we have others in the same building who are a habitual nuisance, throwing bottles and yelling in the street late into the night, getting arrested for various drug offenses, and loudly "sharing" their domestic issues with the rest of the block. So, we tried...but it's not a fairytale. Feel free to welcome that on your own block

Concerned Resident  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 1:24 PM

Typical liberal comments. Quick to call concerned residents of the community NIMBY's, but mysteriously never want to talk about what ISN'T being done north of Lake Street.

Killi from Oak Park  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 1:02 PM

Take Your NIMBY Label, why don't you go introduce your kids to those kids and introduce yourself to the parents? Invite them over for a backyard cook out. Reach out to others and bridge the gap.

Take Your NIMBY Label and Stuff It from OP  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 7:42 AM

@Chris B: You beat up on "the NIMBYs", but did you show up and put a big box store or a housing project next to your home? It's easy to complain about NIMBYs, but its harder to live through the actual challenges of a "diverse community." For example, we have an abundance of Section 8 housing in our neighborhood, and I routinely have to bring my kids in from playing outside because of screaming, fighting and other questionable behavior from that end of the street. Thanks for your sermon, tho

Chris B from Oak Park  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 4:46 PM

Although the idea of making this exercise a "game" is a bit unorthodox, the intent is good. We do need a diverse housing stock: not all homes, not all condos, not all apts; but housing for ALL who live and work here. The locations being reviewed make sense as they are the best for public transportation needs. I am dismayed by the NIMBY attitude displayed here, but not surprised. With taxes so high and so many needs, it is survival of the fittest time. I hope the exercise proved useful.

Troublemaker from OP  

Posted: September 8th, 2011 11:49 PM

I'm going to show up and play Monopoly (can I be the Top Hat, please?)....I say we need housing projects and halfway houses in the Frank Lloyd Wright district (what could be more diverse than that?), Target and Big box stores on Madison Street, and a Starbucks in South Oak Park. There's no way that junk I make up as a joke and share at this forum could be any crazier than what the Village seems to dream up on an ongoing basis. Stupid process for a broken down village gov't.

Concerned Resident  

Posted: September 8th, 2011 9:43 PM

Wow, did I ever buy in the wrong neighborhood. It would be great if the Village had been a bit more forthcoming in their plans to turn those two areas into a social experiment that not everyone may want to participate in. Go play Monopoly in North Oak Park for a change.

I Live Close to a Transit Opportunity from Oak Park  

Posted: September 7th, 2011 5:55 AM

@Tammie Grossman: Why is a workshop needed? Why aren't market forces working to indicate what type of housing is needed? How will "playing monopoly" help the planning process? Is this what passes as citizen input these days? So, this is where we're supposed to make sure you're not planning another low income housing project by our homes?

Tammie Grossman from Oak Park  

Posted: September 6th, 2011 4:32 PM

The workshop will look at the entire Village for most of the evening; only spending a limited amount of time focusing on two areas we identified that are close to transit opportunities. We will be presenting statistics that will show what housing is needed for for all income levels. We welcome all to attend the workshop and provide input. Hope to see you at the workshop. Tammie Grossman, Housing Programs Manager

Monopoly, eh? from OP  

Posted: September 6th, 2011 3:45 PM

In Momopoly, there are houses and hotels....does the Village Board version include low income housing, properties taken off the tax roles, crumbling parking structures and unnecessary municipal buildings..? Perhaps Lueck and her cronies should stop playing games and help make Oak Park a safer community that is known for effectively and efficiently spending tax dollars. Nah, that's apparently too boring...LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!


Posted: September 6th, 2011 3:26 PM

Why the focus on Southwest Oak Park? Is the plan to add more "Comcast Projects" to that area of Oak Park? Call me suspicious.

Steve from Oak Park  

Posted: September 6th, 2011 2:33 PM

Hopefully the hotel will be more like Boardwalk and Park Place rather than Baltic Avenue.

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