The on-line petition ( to keep Marion as a pedestrian mall has given Oak Parkers and out-of-town shoppers the opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter. Hundreds of people have signed the petition, with many taking the time to thoughtfully express why the mall is meaningful to them and the community. Serious public outreach by the village during the planning process would have given citizens an opportunity to be heard before the board made its decision, instead of once again at the 11th hour.

It appears that the board has listened to a small group of downtown property owners, many from out of town, who have come to view downtown Oak Park as their turf, not the public’s. This has been the practice of the past three boards.

If our elected officials would roll up their sleeves and address the real reasons why downtown retail is suffering instead of spending their time selecting bluestone pavers and granite curbs for cars which taxpayers cannot afford, we might begin to get the kinds of shops that will draw more people to downtown. The significant deterioration of the quality of shops on Lake Street (open to traffic since 1988) and the increase in vacancies seems to be obvious to everyone but our elected officials. Restreeting the Marion mall is not the magic bullet and they know it, but they are too spineless to take on the hard work of making real change in the way downtown is run.

Here are letters from the business groups who have all the influence in downtown decisions, while they are using our TIF dollars, mostly from the school districts, to pay for this latest boondoggle.

By the way, neither Greg Melnyk nor Mike Fox lives in Oak Park. Nor does Willis Johnson, the current president of the DTOP business association.

Kathryn Jonas
Oak Park

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