Village not-so-bored meeting in Oak Park

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Though a five-hour meeting about TIFs, debt capacity and underground sewer repairs might not be everyone's ideal way to spend a Monday night, there were opportunities for laughter at Monday's village board meeting.

Most of the powwow focused on serious debate about whether or not Oak Park should spend $14.3 million to deck out parts of Oak Park Avenue and Marion Street with brick streets, granite curbs and decorative lights. That didn't stop the attendees from inserting a funny quip here or there.

Charles Williams, the owner of Dreschler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, told trustees that his customers need to be able to get to his business by car during construction on Marion. He can't rely on foot traffic like some grab-and-go establishments.

"We are not a destination business," said Williams, to a round of laughs.

Williams said it might provide some relief to the funeral home if cars were allowed to turn left on Washington when traveling south on Marion. Most on the board seemed in favor of the idea. As the night dragged on and trustees worked to build consensus, Bob Tucker wished they could just focus on the no-brainer.

"Trustee Salzman, it's great we get to start with something easy," Tucker said to his fellow newly elected board mate, as the meeting reached its fourth hour. "Could we maybe vote on the diverter first?"

Salzman, who spends his days as an attorney, wasn't sure if serving as a village trustee worked the same way. "I'm a lawyer, so I don't know if this is an opportunity for closing arguments, or what" he said.

And as the meeting stretched toward five hours, Village President David Pope tried to convince his fellow trustees to vote yes. He said he sometimes worries that his small children will disappear into a pothole when he makes trips to the Marion Street Cheese Market.

"I walk across there with a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old, and you might lose of 'em one day," he said. "Not because they'll get hit by a car, but because they'll fall in a pothole and never come out."

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Posted: May 11th, 2011 9:25 AM

Infrastructure. Most of the money for this project is for infrastructure!!

Potholes are Funny from OP  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 6:31 AM

Funny, David Pope.....I worry about crossing any of the streets near my home with my kids because of the numerous potholes on nearly every street in my South Oak Park neighborhood. Those brick streets and bluestone sidewalks will be great up on Marion Street! Too bad basic infrastructure won't be addressed again. When will we actually start having basic public services and infrastructure in the village attended to? Have we paid off the multi-million dollar public works building yet?

OP Guy  

Posted: May 11th, 2011 1:15 AM

Kids falling into pot holes and never coming out? Spending millions is not something to joke about, especially in this economy... I wouldn't be against the project if money is spent wisely, but at least give us some real pros if you are going to spend that much. The "build it and they will come" mentality may have been relevant in pre-depression days, but I need more actual facts about the long term positives other than "build it..."

OP Resident  

Posted: May 10th, 2011 6:39 PM

I was pleased that both new trustees stood their ground and voted "No". That's encouraging. The testy exchange between Pope and Hedges over the Village President's comment regarding using TIF funds to pay wealthy developers was a highlight.Once again, Luecke provided the lowlights. Her gibberish about be able to please the 2061 village board, having more room at street festivals and her desire to be able to rest in the shade was a distraction to a serious discussion.

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