Tom B’s excellent adventure

The tourism folks in Boulder, Colorado laud their scenic destination as the “city nestled between the mountains and reality.” As Oak Park Village Manager Tom Barwin heads west this weekend to be considered for Boulder’s manager post, we’d acknowledge that Oak Park has no mountains and that, at times, our ties to reality are a mere string.

So just how different could it be for Barwin if he wins the top spot in Boulder? Could Oak Park match Boulder’s public policy allure? We turned to the official Boulder job description for its next manager for insights. We learned:

  • “The city has over 20 boards and commissions … plus many active panels and advisory groups on specific policy topics and initiatives.” Check!
  • “Boulder residents are highly active, well-organized and well informed.” Check!
  • “Residents can be forceful in presenting their viewpoints. There can also be widely diverging interests between politically active residents who are genuine experts in public policy areas.” Check!
  • “As the city nears build-out, each land use issue becomes more controversial.” Check!
  • “Public process in Boulder can be an end in itself.” Check!

Our conclusion? He must be going for the damned mountains.

New prez @ Community Bank

There’s a new sheriff in town at Community Bank of Oak Park-River Forest.

The bank’s board of directors last week named Walter Healy as its new president, according to a press release. Healy, an employee since the bank was founded in 1996, takes over for Martin Noll. Meanwhile, the departing president will work as chair and CEO of Community Bank.

Healy, 45, has worked in the banking industry since 1988. He has five children and is a lifelong resident of Oak Park. Healy also serves on the finance committee for Ascension Church.

Noll, 65, is a founding shareholder with the local bank, and has worked in the field for 40 years.

25 cents for 10 minutes?

We’ve reported on this before, but it has more impact when you’re actually counting the quarters.

The Village of Oak Park has begun to put new parking meter rates into play across the village, starting with its downtown. Where once you paid 50 cents to park for an hour, now meters cost $1.50 for an hour. That’s 25 cents every 10 minutes or six quarters for an hour.

The village hopes the new rates will push parkers into village garages, which are soon to cost $1 for the first two hours. Weather permitting, the village hopes to have the meter changes completely in effect by Aug. 22, said Cara Pavlicek, interim parking manager. The Avenue Business District will also cost $1.50 an hour, while the Harrison and Southtown areas will cost $1 an hour. Most other meters will cost 75 cents (20 minutes for a quarter. Meters throughout the village will be enforced from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m, Monday through Saturday.

Besides garages, the village is also advocating “meter keys” as an alternative to pockets full of change. These are similar to an I-Pass. You purchase the key for a $15 deposit. You can add as much cash onto the key as desired. Oak Park also plans to add two pay stations ($12,500 each), likely in downtown, so people can pay for parking with their credit card.

“It’s always tough in the implementation, but I think it’s going to have some very positive outcomes, long term, for the community,” Pavlicek said.

Still, some residents and business owners are miffed at the changes.

“Why would someone want to come and pay tremendous amounts of money for parking when they can go to North Riverside, Oak Brook, or any of the shopping centers and not have to pay a penny to park?” said Dee LeFevour, a 46-year resident. “I just think it’s absolutely disgraceful.”

Pat Zubak, executive director of Downtown Oak Park, said customers have been “incensed” about the 25 cents for 10 minutes. She deferred to merchants for further comment. Here’s what a select few had to say Monday:

“We just know that people are unhappy. And since our goal is to make our customers happy, it puts us in a very difficult situation. We totally understand the shortfall that the village may have found itself in. We just wish they would’ve found more creative solutions to that shortfall.”
Jason Smith
The Book Table co-owner

“Customers did say it was a shame that it was more expensive, but I know that the village has debt problems, and it’s just another way to tax people. So I suppose that’s probably what they need to do. … I don’t want to convey that I’m upset with the village because I’m not really. I don’t think there’s been customers who have not come because of the parking rate.”
Laura Maychruk
Buzz Café co-owner

“Unfortunately, I think a lot of the retailers don’t want to see the prices go up, and they don’t want to see the hours extended. It’s going to be rough. A lot of the problem is that people aren’t going to have $2 in quarters in their pocket. It’s a rough world we live in right now. People are getting nickeled and dimed to death with taxes, gas, and meter hikes. It’s not a good recipe for business.”
Nick Gambino
Cucina Paradiso co-owner, Avenue Business Association president

Clarification

In a front page article in the July 23 Wednesday Journal, we misquoted Tammie Grossman, housing programs manager for the Village of Oak Park. The right of first refusal clause was used for discriminatory purposes, not enacted for those reasons. Also, we misnamed a local organization, the Oak Park Regional Housing Center. We regret these errors.

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