I am not surprised that my favorite local newspaper has decided that Dr. Susan Bridge’s tenure as superintendent did not produce “great traction for change” [A final report card, Our Views, June 6] when it failed to acknowledge the profound and beneficial changes that have occurred at village hall over the past two years.

We have, today, a new and well-informed village manager who understands contemporary development trends and the importance of Oak Park’s distinctive design legacy. The VCA/NLP coalition-led village board held the line on spending and ended the days of Mike Chen and his $20 million handouts to private-market developers like Whiteco. The village board also ended the practice of using $15 million “community parking” garages as incentives to support village policy.

Three sub-area community planning initiatives (Madison Street, Chicago Avenue and Lake Street) were approved without gut-retching, grassroots controversy, an accomplishment that village boards and administrative leadership over the past decade failed to achieve even once.

The board moved deliberately and decisively to approve the opening of the Marion Street mall, a decidedly pro-business stance for Downtown Oak Park. And throw in the supposed top-to-bottom reorganization and new attitude of the VMA as an accomplishment as well.

What the Wednesday Journal seemed to focus on, instead, was the controversy over the fate of the Colt Building and highly personal editorializing on reform trustees. I knew the VCA/NLP coalition was swimming upstream when Drew Carter, a reporter I otherwise highly respect, described a discussion by Trustee Marsey in a news article as a “diatribe.”

One hopes the Journal will be paying close attention when the payday for all those VMA campaign contributions comes due.

Carl Wohlt
Oak Park

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