The northeast corner of Madison Street and Oak Park Avenue has found its highest and best use. Fenwick students from Glen Ellyn and Hinsdale now use it weekdays to park their family’s third SUV as the youngsters are then forced to trudge two blocks to their studies.

Owned by the village at considerable cost to you the taxpayer, the site had been the focal point of giddy development hopes just a few years ago. The urban-format Target could go there! A deal could be made to buy the parking lot at the Oak Park Arms just to the north so that a parking garage could be added to the site!

You don’t hear much talk about Target coming to Oak Park these days. And village officials seemingly have lost their taste for parking garages falling from the sky with their 20 years of debt service and minimal revenues.

With the international economy teetering-maybe by the time you read this it will be cratering-it is tough to get a car loan, let alone funding for a non-existent major real estate development project on an Oak Park street not seen as the retail hub of the near west ‘burbs.

This enveloping dismalness makes preposterous our report last week that District 97, maybe together with the park district, is eyeing one of the abandoned Foley-Rice Cadillac buildings. The school district has a facilities committee with an agenda item that is only two years old but might as well be from the Depression-era-the first Depression era, I’m talking about.

Not that long ago, Oak Park officialdom was looking at Madison Street as a life-sized Monopoly board. Fun and games playing real estate tycoon. The result is village government now owns considerable patches of the street and has “influence” over others, including two parcels owned by the elementary school district. Way back when-18 months ago-the village handed the cash-strapped grade schools a few mil in exchange for loose control of the future of the school’s headquarters building at Home Avenue and its storage garage at Scoville. The village sought to control those additional sites because, you know, developers were about to start knocking on the village’s door and once Target was locked in at Oak Park and Madison, then Circuit City would need a nice spot, and how about a cluster of nice restaurants over by Village Players that would transition seamlessly into the mellow success of Forest Park’s Madison Street?

Time to stop. Fantasy done. There’s going to be damned little development of any kind for several years. And every project is going to be hard won and with narrow margins. The school district has two serviceable if remarkably ugly buildings. Stay put. Fix the roof. Hunker down. If the park district really needs to expand its gymnastics center by moving its buildings and grounds department, then make a deal with the village to share the new $30 million public works center on South Boulevard.

Don’t spend money. Don’t raise our taxes any more. We’re all out here trying to hold onto our jobs and pay down our credit card bills.

It is going to be tough for a while. Even for the Fenwick kids driving the third family car.

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...