We’re glad to see the village is issuing fewer parking citations. Too aggressive enforcement has frayed many a nerve among residents. At the same time, we’re glad to see that a more efficient collections system has resulted in more people paying their parking fines. It’s only fair that scofflaws should be forced to pay their share.

But we’re not glad to see the village fining a little old lady for forgetting to hang her handicapped parking placard.

Efficient bureaucracies are a good thing, but not if they sacrifice the human element. The story of Agnes Kelly, 82, who had a legal placard but simply forgot to hang it, makes the village look heartless, inflexible, and, frankly, pretty foolish.

Kelly beat the rap in Cook County court, which makes the village look even worse. When Cook County shows greater mercy than the Village of Oak Park, something is askew. Supervisors need to communicate to their personnel that they need to be responsive to citizens. “Just following regulations” doesn’t cut it.

Leeway and flexibility should be built into any system, no matter how efficient. The Kelly case suggests that the village’s parking department has a ways to go on the human front.

Too much of a good thing?

Big weekend coming up in Oak Park. Lots of special events being planned, everything from a “Peace Fair” to the annual Art on Harrison extravaganza. The level of activity is a healthy sign, revealing a community with considerable energy and vitality. Special events are one of the elements that make Oak Park such a great place to live.

But village resources are limited, and on weekends like this, are overstretched. From public works to police presence, there is a practical limit to how many events, and the scope of the events which can be packed into three days.

The overload, and the miscommunication which comes it, proves there are holes in the system. Village hall and event organizers need to coordinate and communicate better in order to avoid getting overextended. Everyone needs to be flexible in working with village hall to help avoid such gluts.

There are frustrations on both sides that can be smoothed out with better, earlier planning. Block parties offer a precedent. Village hall lets organizers know when they hit the limit, and organizers adjust accordingly.

This is a problem that seems eminently solvable.

Barrie neighbors triumphant

And one of the main events this weekend is the long-awaited grand reopening of Barrie Park. While Sept. 10 is a day that has been eagerly anticipated in Southeast Oak Park, the saga of Barrie remediation makes this a village-wide cause celebre. Even if you don’t live south of the Eisenhower, it’s worth a visit this weekend to see one very hard-earned success story. And we should always remember the ordeal suffered by the park’s immediate neighbors. Let’s hope the village never has to endure anything like this again.

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