Colorful crosswalks hit the Oak Park Arts District

Village hopes to liven up Harrison Street stretch

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Lost amid the hubbub over a building collapse on Harrison Street earlier this month, the village is installing razzle-dazzle crosswalks to try and liven up the Oak Park Arts District.

Village hall is spending about $11,000 per intersection to install the markings at Lyman, Lombard and Ridgeland, according to Village Engineer Jim Budrick. They're made from a special material called "hot tape," a thermal plastic that’s heated up with a torch and then melted into the pavement.

Elgin-based AC Pavement Striping finished Ridgeland and Lombard last week, and is wrapping up at Lyman this week, Budrick said. The $11,000 price tag also includes resurfacing the asphalt intersections.

Village Manager Tom Barwin came up with the idea for the markings, after seeing similar ones used in other countries.

"We've taken a situation that is just a crosswalk — plain, reoccurring, simple, every intersection has one — and shown how, with just a little flair and creativity, it can be made something special," Barwin told Wednesday Journal in April.

Budrick hopes the red, green and blue hot tape will stay in place for about five years, but the village will find out just how durable the material is when it starts snowing in a couple of months.

"We think it's an enhancement to the neighborhood, and we'll keep an eye on them and see how well they hold up through our wonderful winter weather," he said.

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Kelly from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 10:42 PM

@Really: I just sent Marty an email earlier tonight about this issue because I have been surprised not to see any outrage expressed in the WJ about the Village's decision to stop funding crossing guards when it finds money for decorative crosswalks and the touch a truck event. The Village needs to look at its priorities!

Really? from Oak park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 10:26 PM

11k for the "decorative" crosswalks and the Village can't pay for crossing guards for our school children because they do not have the funds? Wow. Time to get priorities straight Village Board!!!!

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 11:40 AM

John, that is a good question. Would also like an answer on that one too! All the e-mail responses I got from some board members were saying the staff were handling this project. Seems like the board did not get totally informed on really what was going on or being spent. Looks like a Barwin project.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 11th, 2011 1:30 PM

Does anyone know which OP Commission reviewed and approved the Art District sidewalk work before the decision went to the board?

Jg Morales  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 5:43 PM

82 cents here, 2 dollars there, it all adds up. And with cavalier attitudes towards budgeting... well... we could end up with 100 82 cent disasters. Personally, my feelings about this one are pretty neutral. It certainly is bright and... interesting at first, but there's isn't much more that can be said. I do like J Binns input. Had a local artist been used, I think these things would have been more appealing. This stuff doesn't say "art district" to me. Looks more like a coloful "hazard ahead" warning.

Having Fun from Oak Park  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 10:10 AM

M on Ridgeland, of course the board members don't know what is going on. This is below the amount needed for them to know. We have the 3 Wise Men of Oak Park to thank for spending Oak Parker's tax payer dollars. It cost everyone person in Oak Park, .82 cents each.


Posted: September 8th, 2011 11:03 PM

Doe the board know that this is not monopoly money? If you give someone a checkbook and don't ask questions you obviously have full faith in that person to be responsible. My suggestion is to take the check book away and ASK QUESTIONS!!!

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 8th, 2011 4:57 PM

Well from the e-mails I have received from some Village Board members, no one seems to know what is being done, completed or amount spent. This is just terrible during this tough economic time that no one is watching the budget. There is maintenance that needs to be done, but the money spent needs to be watched and controlled better.

J Binns from Harrison Arts District  

Posted: September 8th, 2011 3:10 PM

The death knell to creativity is the committee. We should have given the money to a local artist, and work crew. Then those funds would feed the local economy and the lives of all Oak Parkers would have been enriched. Instead we hired a low bid contractor form Elgin with no investment in the area, the funds leave the area and us with nothing but their finished product, which in my oppinon is shoddy workmanship. As a design artist by trade, I'd be fired if my lines were this crooked, and sloppy.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 8th, 2011 1:32 PM

Harrison Street Neighbor, they are very dark at night. They did not perform as crosswalks and it is not only ridiculous to spend that type of money, it is also not functional.


Posted: September 8th, 2011 11:57 AM

If you haven't seem them already, the electronic crosswalks on Madison in Forest Park are AWESOME... Easy to use, VERY safe, and draw nice attention to the fact that it is a walking friendly area...

Harrison Street Neighbor from Oak Park  

Posted: September 7th, 2011 11:50 PM

I like the new crosswalks. They are colorful and fun. Also, they make the intersections much safer because so many cars breeze through them, especially st the intersection of Lombard and Harrison. Everyone: Lighten up!

Another OP Resident  

Posted: September 7th, 2011 4:49 PM

$11K is too much money for makeup!

Eilene McCullagh Heckman  

Posted: September 6th, 2011 11:26 PM

Giant razors...I thought that was something the Picasso pooped out. Nothing like a nice dose of "kitsch" to make a area "artsy."


Posted: September 6th, 2011 10:18 PM

The crosswalks go well with the hideous giant razors that are placed in odd places along Harrison Street. I find the colors and pattern nauseating and annoying. Another one of Barwin's success stories? I can't wait to see what's next.

Sign of Irrelevance from OP  

Posted: September 6th, 2011 2:59 PM

I live in the area and the colorful crosswalks are fine. Not great. What I find strange is that we have recent drug arrests and buildings falling down. The crosswalks are just irrelevant in the context of the neighborhood's other challenges. But that's Village Hall & Board in a nutshell...unless they're unneccesarily spending $5 million on heated bluestone sidewalks. <sigh>

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 6th, 2011 10:54 AM

Interesting, contacted Mr. Johnson on the board. Supposedly this is a trial program and only 1 or 2 crosswalks were to be done to see how they hold up especially during the winter. Boy, who's minding the store at village hall!

Jg Morales  

Posted: September 5th, 2011 1:24 AM

Wow... The needle on the creepy meter just jumped into the red.

Lets Show Oak Park's Approach from Oak Park  

Posted: September 4th, 2011 1:35 PM

The place called the Art District, first needs to get the clothing, beads and paint on canvas stores in a row for two blocks. That means first getting more than 4 store front artists to make it possible. Next, 5 million dollar street make over. Close two streets. Heat the street and side walks. Spend 2 million in art magazines around the world letting other artists and art buyers know about it and spend 1 million to bring recognized artists onto a panel to qualify who can have a shop.

Yes from Oak Park  

Posted: September 4th, 2011 1:27 PM

Violet Aura, it's not painted on. It is applied with heat. Either read the stories or find a picture website to comment on, because you are commenting when you don't know the story, and don't be defensive saying you would have to go into full detail when commenting.

SouthEast Oak Park  

Posted: September 4th, 2011 7:56 AM

Garish and Gaudy. Just like the Arts District signs that the Village put up a few years ago, both make the area look like a circus.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: September 3rd, 2011 10:40 PM

@Violet Aura, No, I don't think it's splitting hairs. Particularly when issues are being discussed like safety and the longevity of the product. It doesn't matter what it *looked like* to you. It matters what it *is*. Yes, if I am going to take the time to post a comment, I do read "word for word" the item (an article,a comment)on which I'm commenting. It's the visual way of respectfully putting in the effort to "hear" what the person is communicating.

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 3rd, 2011 6:28 PM

@Yes: You want me to go into detail about it being melted into the pavement with a torch and that it's called hot plastic? When I VIEWED it, it looked painted on and for practical purposes, it IS painted on. Oh snap!

Yes from Oak Park  

Posted: September 3rd, 2011 6:15 PM

Bridgett from Oak Park, you are correct that some people don't bother reading a story Violet Aura, read a story if you are going to take time to comment on it.

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 3rd, 2011 2:00 PM

@Bemused: I was gonna suggest the same thing, until I found out that "Senor Morales" is actually a woman! LOL- I don't swing that way, honey!

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 3rd, 2011 1:59 PM

@Bridgett: Don't you think it's splitting hairs to describe the crosswalk differently? I was there. It looked painted on to me. I don't think describing the process is the most crucial detail in the debate here. And as for attention spans, do you read EVERYTHING online word-for-word? I think one gets in the habit of skimming articles, especially if perusing multiple sites.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: September 3rd, 2011 1:37 PM

Some of these comments here are talking about things like paint. These crosswalks are not painted. The details are right there, in the third sentence of the story. These comments are evidence that attention spans are getting shorter and sho--

Bemused in OP  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 10:46 PM

Your guys need to get a life. Or at least a date.

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 8:51 PM

Lest I be met with accusations of my "illiteracy," I meant OUTLYING.

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 8:50 PM

@Anon: I think the crosswalks look lovely. As I decided to ride across town and stop at the Buzz, I noticed the design for the first time. It's a funky area. I much prefer it to the sterile upscale Naperville-esque vibe of more schmancy districts. And check this out: some of the biggest dealers live in very expensive homes in outlaying 'burbs that are on the newer side. I just read an article on this.

What Now from Oak Park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 8:11 PM

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park, of course you weren't notified of this project like Frank from SE OP said. It's a Barwin project. It says so right in the W.J.. Of course alleys and pot holes need to be repaired, but by golly, when you can ask your assistant to look up things for you, and then can authorize money, you're going to want to do somethings that not everyone is going to like to have their money spent on. If the Village people knew about what was going on, they would express their dislike


Posted: September 2nd, 2011 7:52 PM

The "crosswalks" are hideous. An "Art District" should never call attention to itself. This entire project is a waste of money and a sociological failure.


Posted: September 2nd, 2011 7:33 PM

Harrison art district: Where crosswalks are cool and drug dealers take up quarters?

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 7:12 PM

And you have the nerve to ask anyone to remove my posts when you call me illiterate AND a moron? And I am a cyclist; I don't drive and never have. You are probably the wannabe, dude. I call you 'Putz' because I am piggybacking on the person who named you that. I actually don't like to call people names and I hardly think that 'putz' is that obscene but boy are you a whiny little b----. Namaste!

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 7:07 PM

@Putz: Moron? Anyway, I have never employed a sock puppet against you or anyone else, dear. I was laughing because I suspected you were talking about me when you brought it up.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 6:56 PM

Apparently, the current adminstration is fiscally irresponsible. Have all the alleys in O.P been repaired? Have all pot holes been fixed? We are putting fancy decorations in over a crumbling infrastructure!

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 6:51 PM

Corrrection $11,000.00. (mistyped)

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 6:48 PM

Ok, We live just down from Harrison and I asked some of my neighbors if they had heard of a plan to paint the crosswalks? None of us knew that there was a plan! Nice notice. By the way, Ridgeland is going to be resurfaced in 2 to 3 yrs. So that was a great waste of $11,00.00. Our ALLEYS need fixing Barwin!

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 5:12 PM


Frank from SE OP  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 4:12 PM

The crosswalks are a welcome, fun, distinct feature. Those who are responding with such cynicism and anger might want to know that there is a plan for the Arts District that was discussed by residents...and many of us have pride in our neighborhood and appreciate the efforts. But I imagine the same people complained bitterly about Marion Street too...

Where Does OP Get The Money?  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 2:28 PM

$11,000 on sidewalk repainting? Would be good to know what the cost of a regular replacement paint job costs so we can understand how the village is spending tax money.

epic lulz  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 2:08 PM

@Violet, I said when it RAINs, you freaking illiterate moron. If you were an actual cyclist, you'd be well aware of this problem. Btw, thanks for outing your sock puppet. Mods, how about finally taking action against this user who keeps employing vile obscene language?

My $0.82  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 12:59 PM

Everything here is bad. Nothing here is good. Anything that costs money is bad. Puertoricans are bad. Except Roberto Clemente. He was good, but now he is dead. He had 300 hits. People called him Bobby, but he did not like that.

What Now from Oak Park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 12:07 PM

Folks, I know we all would like to think Oak Park has an Art District, but go down Harrison street, and really take a look at it. Just because you call something, something, doesn't make it so. If we are going to spend extra money that Barwin thinks we have, lets spend it in our Police and Fire Departments.

What Now from Oak Park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 12:05 PM

Why didn't our Village Manager ask for a guarantee so he could protect the interests of Oak Parkers whom he is serving? How many people in Oak Park would have reached into their own pockets and said, "Yes, here is .82 cents from each member of my family. I want you to decorate the intersections like my kid does with chalk at block parties". Cont....

What Now from Oak Park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 12:04 PM

Budrick hopes the red, green and blue hot tape will stay in place for about five years, but the village will find out just how durable the material is when it starts snowing in a couple of months. Not the village, but tax payers who will have long forgotten about the intersections. The company is based in Elgin, Elgin has snow, and the company is a business and knows how long products will last. Cont....

What Now from Oak Park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 12:03 PM

"We've taken a situation that is just a crosswalk %u2014 plain, reoccurring, simple, every intersection has one %u2014 and shown how, with just a little flair and creativity, it can be made something special," Barwin. Every time there are innovative projects costing tax payers money, there are two names associated to it, Barwin and Budrick. Cont......

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 11:15 AM

Colors, the Puerto Rican flag, like many others, is red, white and blue.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 9:48 AM

Well, it looks like a big waste of money again by the Village. The colors are terrible, it cheapens the area. Who even picked those colors and pattern? Painting crosswalks is not going to liven up the area, looks stupid!


Posted: September 2nd, 2011 9:46 AM

Are these the Puertorican Colors?

Violet Aura  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 9:30 AM

@Epic Putz: Um...I dropped by the Buzz and Wonderwall yesterday and rode my bike across said death trap *gasp*. What are you on about, my man? It's a frigging painted crosswalk!!!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 12:21 AM

Thanks,Tom. And I liked the musical reference. VOP is so committed to being a bike friendly village that I'm surprised no one considered the dangers that might be posed by these crosswalks. Maybe Ray Johnson will comment on whether there should be concern. He's been great about joining the discussion.


Posted: September 1st, 2011 11:45 PM

Jim, I think he may be referring to the plastic getting slippery when wet (sorry for the album reference) and it being hazardous to bicycle tires. Other striping is usually done with paint. Don't care for the color's but hey it's still fun.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 1st, 2011 4:25 PM

Epic, would you please explain how these crosswalks will cause trouble for bike riders? Does that concern also apply to any and all street stripings? Is there something VOP should have done to protect folks? Thanks.

Eilene McCullagh Heckman  

Posted: September 1st, 2011 3:49 PM

My tax dollars at work... They look...really obnoxious. (Not to mention red and green is a super choice of contrasting colors...for all those red-green colorblind people.) And...they ALSO look NOTHING like a crosswalk. Are you going to change the red in all the local stop signs in the "Arts District" to purple just to "jazz them up?"

epic lulz  

Posted: August 31st, 2011 10:26 PM

Yay! Another death trap for cyclists when it rains. Good work, VOP!

I ride in Oak Park  

Posted: August 31st, 2011 3:50 PM

Here's and idea Oak Park - Instead of trying to manufacture a phony "arts district" in that neighborhood, why don't you concentrate on making sure the buildings there are up to safety standards so nobody will get hurt or killed.

anne from Oak Park  

Posted: August 31st, 2011 3:31 PM

Sigh, big waste of money!!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: August 31st, 2011 2:53 PM

I like 'em! Nice way to let folks know there's something unique and special about this area. Harrison St. has great potential. A lot is going to depend on quickly Oak Park can rid itself of the blight linked to the notorious Mr.K.

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