The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest has a great idea. They would like to take over a building that the village doesn’t need any more, and turn it into a state-of-the-art history museum. The four of us–the New Leadership ’07 candidates for village trustee–strongly support the proposal, and we hope you will too.

The building is the called Cicero Fire Station #2 on Lake Street at Lombard Avenue. Right now the Oak Park Public Works Department uses it, but with their new building about to be finished, the old fire station will no longer be needed by the village. The Historical Society would like to take it over, and pay for the renovations required to make it their new home.

Everybody wins. The Historical Society would be on Lake Street, a far more accessible location to the public than their current cramped quarters in Pleasant Home. There would be climate-controlled space for irreplaceable community archives, particularly old photos and other documents, and enough room for staff offices, meeting rooms for special events, and an education center.

Perhaps most important, Oak Park would have a new museum, a potential anchor for neighborhood revitalization on the east end of Lake Street, and a new destination for the thousands of tourists who visit every year. Best of all, the creation of this new heritage attraction won’t cost the village any extra money. Here’s why:

The building was never purchased by the taxpayers of Oak Park (it was actually built by Cicero Township in 1898) and has never been on the tax rolls. So whether the village leases it to the society or arranges an outright transfer, there’s no money lost … and a great deal to be gained by Oak Park.

A lot of issues are being debated now, in the last few weeks before the election: development … spending … schools … you name it. Most of these topics may at first seem more critical than a new home for our historical society–until you realize what a tremendous boost for Oak Park such an attraction could be. If you agree, keep this article to remember our names, and vote for New Leadership on April 17.

Barbara Dolan, Harvey Lyon, Rose Meyer, Mary Shiffer
New Leadership ’07 village trustee candidates

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