It seems like a way too inside government story to pay attention to. The Canadian National Railroad wants to buy an underutilized rail line on the outskirts of the Chicago area. CN says it will allow them to divert a great deal of freight traffic that currently clogs up the inner ring suburbs like Oak Park and Riverside and speed traffic through the Midwest.

But this insider issue has rightly become a page one battle as places like
Barrington shout that quadrupled daily freight trains will wreck their exurban nirvanas while those of us who have been stuck at train crossings our entire lives shout hallelujah.

Here’s the thing:
Chicago is the rail hub of the nation. That is a huge economic spur for our metropolis. The rail system in Chicago is hopelessly congested now and a plan to loop the Loop makes great sense. But it has to be done sensitively and with an intense capital investment in distant suburbs to create underpasses and overpasses.

Closer to home, relief from perpetual freight traffic opens the way for an increased investment in rapid rail, commuter rail. That’s a point well made by Oak Park Village President
David Pope.

This change is necessary. The fight ought to be over how to do it well.

Just shoot us

We thought Whiteco was the defining debacle of
Oak Park‘s process fetish. Insanely extended, cruelly repetitive, consciously divisive-Whiteco hearings dragged on for years, created entire political parties in opposition to, well, everything and boiled up a spoiled atmosphere that so poisoned development in downtown that we missed the greatest development orgy of the past half-century.

Now though we must reconsider. Perhaps the inane and endless debate over sticking up a few light poles at the high school stadium is the topper when it comes to government paralysis. This incredibly simple issue will ultimately, if the world doesn’t end sooner, come before this or the next
Oak Park village board. That board will vote up or down on whether there ought to be high school football, maybe a few practice sessions, a certain number of nights a year at OPRF.

So why is this issue going through yet another round of hearings before the incredible shrinking Plan Commission? We’ve been here. We’ve done this. On some freakish technicality it is back before a commission that is so diminished that it can hardly muster a quorum. Imagine the phone call where a village official tries to convince a good-hearted citizen to join the commission now. “You mean, I’d have to sit through more months of lighting the stadium hearings? No way. Life is too short!”

The issue is simple. Lights or no lights. The correct answer is simple. Lights, of course. The endless debate serves no one’s needs and shows
Oak Park at its cranky-assed worst. Get this done.

All The Buzz

It is worth remembering and celebrating the accomplishment that Laura and Andrew Maychruk have created and nurtured over 10 years. Long before giant red razors demarcated the Oak Park Arts District, it was The Buzz that cradled this flustered neighborhood’s identity. It was The Buzz that offered a gathering place which, with its eccentricities and strong voice, defined an arts vibe and a neighborhood feel.

As one independent
Oak Park institution nearing 30 years in business, the Journal recognizes The Buzz for its bold belief in the possibilities of

Harrison Street
and of Oak Park.

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