An eight-foot menorah has found its way from the former Marion Street mall to the plaque commemorating Joseph Kettlestrings (founding settler of Oak Park and confirmed WASP) in the park named for James Scoville (also a WASP). Irony intended or not, the menorah has been divorced from its regular neighbor, the Christmas tree on Marion Street, which also is no longer there, leaving some to wonder about the move.

The menorah was installed last holiday season on the Marion mall at the request of the Chabad Jewish Center of Oak Park.

According to Michael Grandy, superintendent of buildings and grounds for the park district, the village asked the park district about two weeks ago if it would take the holiday decoration off its hands and place it in Scoville Park. The park district obliged, setting it up in its current location on Sunday.

“I don’t know why they passed it on,” said Grandy, “other than that you can no longer have it in the middle of the street” (since Marion was recently reopened to two-way traffic).

David Powers, the village’s communications director, said of the menorah, “There’s a Christmas tree in Scoville Park, so that’s why [the menorah] is there.” The intention was “to be fair to all groups.”

The village clerk’s office, which handles requests for special events, could not be reached for comment before press time.

However, Wednesday Journal did receive one angry phone call from a resident who wondered if a nativity scene would also be allowed in the park. For that, of course, you can go across the street, directly west of Scoville Park, to the live nativity diorama at First Baptist Church, titled “Journey to Bethlehem,” scheduled for Dec. 15 and 16.

Travel Alive, live at the White House

Tom LeaMond, who runs an operation called Travel Alive in Oak Park ( called the other day to say he’ll be at the White House today along with other members of the International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) as part of the celebration of International Volunteer Day 2007. According to LeaMond, “Travel Alive recruits language students and volunteers for service in Nicaragua and Ecuador. Established in 2005, Travel Alive fills a unique niche in the volunteer travel industry and is the only major volunteer travel organization located in the Chicago area.”

Happy International Volunteer Day, by the way.

Opera Club remedied

After plenty of grief and hand-wringing, the cornices, or molded pieces of fiberglass, are finally going up on the Opera Club at Marion Street and South Boulevard.

Developer Alex Troyanovsky had asked recently for an extension in his agreement with the village to put the exterior pieces up. However, the board wanted to show it means business on development deadlines and unanimously rejected the request last month.

To remedy the situation, the developer is paying a portion of the cost of repaving the alley just south of the building. Troyanovsky said he could’ve done the work himself, but waited at the request of the village so the entire alley could be repaved at once. A $10,000 bond was also issued as a hedge against failure to complete the work, but according to Village Planner Craig Failor, the pieces are going up right now and the money goes back to the developer as long as the work is done by the agreed date of Feb. 15.

On a related note, we were mistaken last week when we called local architect John Schiess a partner in the Avenue Club project at Oak Park and South Boulevard. He is merely assisting in the process. We regret the error.


In the Nov. 28 article titled D200 survey: White students have advantage, the lead contained an inaccurate percentage. According to the spring 2007 survey of roughly 2,000 Oak Park and River Forest High School students, the vast majority of black students and a smaller but significant percentage of white students acknowledged that white students commonly or occasionally have an undeserved advantage at the school because of their skin color.

In addition, on standardized tests where higher-achieving black students score nearly the same as white students, they are still, on average, one full grade point behind their white counterparts.

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