I have fond memories of safely shopping with my toddlers, thinking how wonderful the mall made Oak Park. I have purchased at almost every store and eaten at every restaurant many times over 26 years. What a pleasure to lock up a bike, shop in a garden and greet friends at the mall. The OPRF High School Marching Band played, carolers sang, Christmas trees and now Hanukah lights were lit on our unique town square. Disappointment and discouragement will follow the destruction of Marion Street mall.

Spend $5 million of TIF on District 97, then don’t fire more teachers. Good schools attract home buyers. Where are our priorities? Or, after 20-plus years, those millions can be used to restore, upgrade and strongly market the Marion mall. Have public events, music and rallies in a beautiful piazza, to attract shoppers and diners, from locals to worldwide Wright tourists, to directly benefit those businesses. Thank you Minou and Cosi for the relaxed European atmosphere of outdoor dining and Cozy Corner for the floral mall view.

I support our mall business owners and understand their fear of losing their income for their families, just like us. If the stores and food establishments meet our needs and budgets, then we will shop here. Allen Green, in his letter to the editor, clearly documented his point, with the examples of empty storefronts on Lake Street: vehicle traffic alone does not guarantee the success of a business. With Internet shopping, big shopping centers, and big box stores, small local business owners everywhere are concerned about competition, and business is always a risk. We want them to thrive. I want my sales taxes to stay in Oak Park, so I shop here first.

Does this town exist for people or cars? Do we need to spend $5 million for 11 street parking spots?

Oak Park can be a leader by publicizing we are keeping our pedestrian public space and planting more trees as a globally responsible community in a time of planetary crisis. Shopping locally is preferable, especially now with proof my driving adds to global warming and war. Here is where we think globally but act locally. Why are we using money to heat sidewalks, encourage more traffic congestion, breath more toxic fumes, when we need to use less harmful sustainable energy? Why are we transporting bluestone from far away, wasting fuel and money? More public shuttles, more bikes, more trees, less traffic. Walking and shopping in Oak Brook is lovely, but not 30 minutes of CO2 each way.

Leslie Roberts
Oak Park

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