I would like to nominate the Village of Oak Park for the “Globie” awards, held annually by the nonprofit organization Environmental Defense, for the worst contribution to global warming by local government officials for their plan to re-street the Marion Street mall. Not only does this plan call for paving over green space (including all of those wonderful, gorgeous mature trees), but as an added bonus, they want to put in heated sidewalks! Are they trying to get a job with the Bush Administration? The heat generated by this plan is only exceeded by the hot air emanating from the politicians, businesspeople and hangers-on as they congratulate themselves on their wonderful creation.

Given the growing opposition to the proposed gutting of one of our few remaining communal areas, you might be surprised to learn that the board is rushing to sign the contracts before the next election so that even if we throw them out of office, the new board will not be able to stop the re-streeting without incurring great expense. Why the big rush? It’s almost as if our elected leaders are more interested in handing out fat contracts than they are in serving the interests of the community.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But what about that gorgeous artist’s rendering of the finished project we saw in the Journal?” It does look appealing, I have to admit. But as many others have pointed out, the reason it looks so good is because there are no cars driving down the street in the drawing. In other words, the drawing is more accurately an ad for the sort of thing that is possible if we don’t re-street and instead spend only a small fraction of the $5 million allocated to the project on beautifying the existing pedestrian mall!

I know some people are arguing that re-streeting will cause the businesses on Marion Street to flourish, but I have yet to see any evidence offered to back this up (in fact, Lake Street isn’t looking so hot and there is no shortage of car traffic there!).

Don’t let them replace our trees with SUVs! If we lose this battle, I for one will boycott every business on the street formerly known as the Marion Street mall. I’m sorry, but you cannot replace our trees with SUVs and not expect us to fight back.

Richard Voss

Join the discussion on social media!