I’m sending a final word to Oak Park before the movers come and disconnect my computer this morning as my husband Mike and I make our trek to our new home in Tampa, FLa.

Mike has served as the Village’s Development Services Director for the past six years and I am the newly-former executive director for Downtown Oak Park, having worked with the corporation for nearly 14 years. Mike has taken the position of Director of Development Services for the City of Tampa.

Some really wonderful people gave us a lovely farewell party at the Carleton Hotel last night. Thanks to our dear friends, Judy and Chris Kleronomos, the Shakers, Mike Fox, Ray Johnson, Pete Liarikos and Clark Barton for planning the party and making it one of the most memorable evenings of my life. Thanks to all of you who took time out to give us such a magnificent send off.

As I was visiting with all these fine people, it came to mind what Oak Park is all about?the people. Sure we have great buildings, location, schools, parks, businesses, etc. But what makes Oak Park great is its people. I want to take a moment to say thank you to all of you.

Thank you loyal customers. Downtown Oak Park is nothing without its devoted customers. I had the pleasure to get to know many of you during our holiday rebate program and events, and I thank you for your patronage. Please keep shopping our local stores. They are gems in our community and they will only continue to be there if you keep them in the forefront of your mind when you get ready to go out shopping. Sure, our parking isn’t the most convenient, but it is more convenient then driving 20 or 30 minutes away. Watch for the greatneighborhoods.com website to learn more about what the community has to offer you.

Thank you business and property owners and staff. Downtown Oak Park has been blessed with great property owners who understand the value of funding, at great expense to them, marketing and management efforts to revitalize DTOP. Thanks to all our merchants who make DTOP a unique place to shop. Thanks to our board and committees, volunteers who work hard year round, and a big thanks to DTOP’s talented staff who make things happen.

Thank you to all our friends and supporters. Too endless of a list to start naming people and organizations, but you know who you are. Thanks for what you do for the business community. It’s been great working with all of you.

Best wishes to all. I wish the best for everyone in Oak Park and I challenge the new village board to step up to the plate and find ways to make the business community whole.

During the first few months of your tenure, you have taken some actions that have brought investor confidence level down a few notches. Please find ways to retain the wonderful shops we offer in this great community. Find out what it will take to keep them here and then act. Please lead with civility and respect. You guys set the tone as the leaders of the community.

Thanks for those that already do that.

Thank you Oak Park for letting Mike and I be a part of this unique and beautiful community. I wish all the best in future endeavors and hope to find Oak Park, the community of my ancestors (going back to the late 1800s!) in a good place when we come back to visit.

Donna Ogdon Chen

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