Dear President Pope and Board Members,

I would like to thank board members G. Baker, E. Brady, M. Brock and R. Milstein for standing up for what I believe the majority of Oak Park residents want … the preservation of a cohesive, intact historic downtown business district that we can all be proud of. Even if the majority of business owners want the board to accept the Steering Committee’s “consensus” plan, I truly believe the business community is missing the long-term effects of their position in that it would open up the gate for additional future building demolitions in the DTOP area to the point that within our lifetime, only a small handful of historically significant buildings will remain. I truly believe that by implementing the majority of the “consensus plan,” the DTOP area will be revitalized. Some additional thoughts that could enhance the vitality of a renewed DTOP area (without demolishing the Colt Building):

?  Shops alone may or may not attract people. I believe strongly that the village could plan for numerous, “small scale” events (to fit the space available) on a regular basis as a means to attract people to this area. I just started taking classes at the Chicago Botanic Garden. In this last month, there has been a bulb sale and a lily sale both put on by a tulip and lily society. These are a couple ideas for “small scale” events that could be used to attract people to the DTOP area. The village would need to organize these events. Another idea is to have changing (one per season) outdoor art displays to give people (including visitors) a reason to explore the area.

?  I am not sure who “markets” Oak Park. We need to market Oak Park style, which includes Frank Lloyd Wright, Hemingway, the arts, and plants/gardens. I would also like to think we could market Oak Park as being innovative and progressive.

?  As David Pope pointed out, the streetscaping of the DTOP superblock area, but especially Marion Street, must be exceptional. I could not agree with you more.

?  Many of the building owners must restore their building facades. Many bad design decisions have been made in the past by past or current building owners that need to be rectified (the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street program could help tremendously with this).

? Many business owners need to give their storefronts/windows a major makeover to make their stores appealing to customers. In addition, new business signs should really be considered instead of the many, boring, plastic backlit signs that are now in use. Again, the Main Street program could help tremendously.

? Allow bars … yes, a place to meet friends after work or congregate before going out to dinner or meet after dinner. I have never understood Oak Park’s reason for not allowing bars. These bars would be located in areas that have relatively high rent. The drinks would not be cheap and would attract people like my friends and me. Bar customers would also be movie theater and restaurant customers. This would enliven the entire area (something that business owners are all for).

? Don’t view DTOP as an island. Significant residential development is happening or is planned for areas north of Lake Street which will increase density of the area.

? Parking … the Holley Court Garage, which serves the north side of the DTOP superblock area seemed to be ignored during Steering Committee meetings (because it was beyond the limits of the superblock area). The Holley Court Garage is a huge source of parking that is probably underutilized because of poor signage and the pedway (located east of Chipotle) is not even marked. One problem with the Holley Court Garage is that the entrance/exit door located on the south side of the garage feels unsafe at night.

? Prime street parking in front of stores should be short term (30-minute limit) and expensive enough ($1 for 30 minutes?) to make someone think twice and just go to the parking garage.

? Consider designating some area or parking spaces for scooters and motorcycles. In San Francisco, they have designated motorcycle street parking spaces that are free (this could promote the use of more energy-efficient vehicles other than cars). In the name of full disclosure, I do own a motorcycle.

? Lastly, consider the use of one of the shuttle buses that would loop around the DTOP superblock area, which could include picking up and dropping off people at the Holley Court Garage and the new parking garage to be built at North Boulevard.

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