We want to thank trustees [Martha] Brock and [Bob] Milstein for their dissenting votes last night to uphold the Historic Preservation Commission’s (HPC) unanimous vote against West Suburban Hospital’s request to demolish the greystone building at 209 N. Humphrey Ave. in connection with their proposed expansion. This greystone lies within the Ridgeland-Oak Park Historic District, which is to provide protection to contributing structures such as this one and to the residents who have chosen to live in this historic district.
The HPC, along with neighborhood residents, had urged West Suburban to relocate the building within the district if possible. We do not believe that a good-faith attempt was made by the hospital to do this, nor do we believe that the board majority fulfilled their responsibility to represent the legitimate concerns of citizens in this neighborhood. This greystone and another nearby building owned by the hospital, have been allowed to deteriorate for years, with the village looking the other way.
West Suburban contended that the HPC recommendation would prevent the hospital from making necessary improvements. The simple alternative suggested by the HPC and neighbors-moving the greystone to the north end of the existing hospital parking lot and selling it-was never seriously considered. It was clear from the hearing that West Suburban feels they have an absolute right to eventually expand again as suggested in the 1979 and 1990 comprehensive plans. However, Oak Park is not the same community it was in 1990, nor is West Suburban the same community hospital.
The Village Citizens Alliance has worked diligently for five years to promote respect for the unique character of our single-family neighborhoods and commercial districts. We initiated the participatory planning process, and the current revisions to the multi-family zoning districts, which if implemented earlier, would have preserved the single-family character of the 400 block of North Maple; plus we have advocated for more appropriate development in our downtown to preserve its historic character and small businesses. We intend to make preservation of our historic neighborhoods and buildings a key issue in the upcoming village elections.
Gloria Ryan and Tom Ard
Co-campaign chairs, Vision/Community/Action Party