Before the village starts writing tickets to homeowners [Village fines two for failing to shovel snow, News, Feb. 13] it needs to examine its own properties, starting with the sidewalks of 900 & 1000 S. East Ave. The sidewalks on these blocks that border RehmPark have now turned into a dangerous sheet of ice. I find it ironic that almost all of the homeowners of these blocks have kept their sidewalks clear, but the village/park district (I confess I don’t know who has jurisdiction) has not. What makes this an outrage is that these are heavily used sidewalks for Blue Line commuters, as well as students of Ascension school. Last week’s article mentions that the village “does not issue tickets to other public entities like the park district and the library if they’re behind on shoveling. Instead, the village calls the entities to say they heard complaints from the public.” Well, here’s my complaint, village hall. You’ve waited too long to take care of your own problem. Now get the salt (if you have any left) and ice picks out because the shovel will not work anymore.

Resident of

1000 S. East Ave.

I respect the new snow-removal ordinance. I think homeowners should take responsibility in one way or another for the sidewalks in front of their houses. I wonder, however, every time I walk my son to HolmesElementary School, why I will get fined if I don’t shovel my sidewalk, but the park district and school district seem exempt from the ordinance. The sidewalks around and within the fenced area at HolmesSchool are treacherous. The school has made an effort to keep the sidewalks immediately in front of the school shoveled and salted, but the remaining sidewalks have been almost impassable this past week. I do not know under whose jurisdiction these remaining sidewalks fall (pun intended)–schools or parks–but you would think that by this stage in the village’s history this would have been addressed. Could someone please address it and make these sidewalks safe for our kids (and their parents!)?

Ginger Yarrow

Normally, most things in our village really don’t bother me a whole lot, certainly not to the extent of responding to an article in your Wednesday Journal. But you asked for it in Marty Stempniak’s article, “Village fines two for failing to shovel snow.”

Granted, this has been the “snowiest” winter that I can remember. But I have three issues with the village’s response to the snowfalls:

 1) Snow removal seems like a pretty basic service that our taxes are paying for. Sure, they plow eventually. But come on … salt the dang roads. I read the excuse that it’s environmentally unhealthy, but the one I really like is that the village doesn’t have enough. This is Chicago isn’t it? Very short-sighted. For a meager $100K we would have had enough salt. Heck, that’s just a few new gateway sculptures for

Harrison Street
. I think it’s about $4 a person for the salt. I’ll send in my pennies.

Three downtown parking garages have not been shoveled. The village is expecting residents to shovel their walks (who can argue, it’s a walking community), yet three, four or five days after a snowfall, their own properties still aren’t cleared. Where should we send the tickets to, streets and sans, village president, who?

The village spends enormous amounts of money on each business district.

Marion Street
mall, Harrison Street Arts District ,
Chicago Avenue
corridor, etc. but we have trouble with the basic services.

Paging Jane Byrne.

That’s enough griping.

Joe Evans

It is ironic that Forest Park recognizes that the sidewalks are owned by the village and takes responsibility for keeping them free of snow. Oak Park, however, encourages neighbors to report neighbors who have not shoveled for one reason or another. This is like WWII Germany. I find the Big Brother attitude of our village government very disturbing.

Kent Bristol

Good observation! [Oak Park is woeful about pedestrian safety, Viewpoints, Feb. 13].

I just moved here and I can’t believe how aggressive the snow removal truckers drive.  My wife and I call them “death trucks.”  I live on a corner lot and Public Works trucks “shoot” excessive snow and ice onto the parkway. Is that really necessary? I bet not!

Guillermo Delgado

Let’s see: heated sidewalks on

Marion St.
but no salt for the side streets.  Increased protection for vegetation against salt damage, but decreased protection for motorists and pedestrians against injury and possible death.  The river barge with the backup salt is stalled?  Did the village pay another consulting fee to a PR firm to come up with the spin on this one?  Was the village government too busy coddling developers to remember that it snows every winter in the Midwest, and that the “snow events” for a year may actually exceed the number and volume of the previous year? 

Increasing property taxes, decreased village services, preferential zoning and money given to developers who have already been given no-bid contracts, drivers talking on cellphones while traveling our unsalted side streets. …Welcome to our village.

Dennis Bingham

Here’s what I think about the salt mess: The village is publicly talking about the salt so we have something on which to blame the sorry state of the roads.  But it sure looks to me like other measures are being taken to cut costs that are not being discussed.  The only other thing I can think of that would explain the mess is that perhaps the drivers are all accustomed to how to do the job when they’re salting and haven’t adjusted for how it should be done differently when not salting.

For salt alone, I suspect that the environmental reasoning might make sense.  But, as others have pointed out, I don’t see any evidence of the alleys being plowed since the first big storm.  I know that the plowing on my street (1100 block of South Lyman) has been dreadful because I’ve had to drive on it.  In fact, one evening last week I was out dutifully shoveling my walk when I saw a truck go smack down the middle of the street, up the next block, turn around and come back … smack down the middle of the street.  It’s worth noting that there were NO cars on my side of the block, and I was on the other side of the parkway from the street (not at any risk to get hit by debris), so I see no justifiable reason the driver could have had for avoiding everything but the dead center.

My wife was driving down Oar Park Avenue and needed to turn onto Garfield to take a friend of our preschool-age son home after school.  She found that she simply could not make the turn safely because of the state of the intersection, and had to go on down a block.  The good news is, of course, we can always take alternate routes.  The bad news is, that’s a major intersection and there’s no excuse for that.  For that matter, Garfield may be a “secondary” street, but you’d think the narrow hazardous nature of driving on it even when it’s dry would make it an obvious target for extra care when it’s icy.

Regardless, the village folks responsible need to get out and actually drive on some of these secondary roads (which we live on, and so can’t avoid) and see how well their plan is serving the public. Once they understand how unsafe it is, they need a new plan.  I won’t demand salt, but I do demand safe roads.

Pete Hartman

Enjoyed all the comments on the salt issue in Oak Park [Less salt is a fine idea, Viewpoints, Feb. 13]. Not only should we try to help our environment and save money, but the amount of salt dumped on the streets is very painful for the dogs of Oak Park.

Mabel Medina

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