As the Village of Oak Park Board of Trustees continues its decision-making processes relating to the village’s 2009 budget, I wish to impart a few thoughts on the importance of retaining substantial funding of programs that have proven to be significant in Oak Park’s endeavor to achieve success over the past four decades. [OP slashes funds for five nonprofits, News, Oct. 22]
I am in a unique and strong position to opine on these matters, given the fact that I have worked in Oak Park my entire career as an entrepreneur, grew up here, have chosen to rear and educate my children in this village, have invested substantial time and resources in this community, and have represented Oak Park as an elected official. Let’s just say I know this place pretty well.
The village board will be making an irreversible mistake by substantially cutting funding to Oak Park‘s partner agencies. Our village’s partner agencies have quietly and consistently carried on their quality and life-enhancing programs with limited resources over many years.
I wish to speak in particular about the importance of sustained funding for the Oak Park Area Arts Council. I had the honor and privilege of serving on the board of directors of the arts council for eight years. I know the staff and programs of the arts council well. I admire its current board of directors. To me, the Oak Park Area Arts Council is the most representative organization in Oak Park. The arts council is Oak Park, plain and simple. The arts are vital to our community. The village board is responsible for making sure things stay that way.
Additionally, any decision by the village board to cease funding of its already limited business development programs, in particular the Retail Support Grant program, will only serve to further agitate an already highly perturbed business community, and be a continuance in the long line of lasting inequities imparted upon Oak Park‘s commercial interests over the past several years.
The village’s trustees cannot realistically or reasonably expect that wholly private investment will cultivate the next generation of economic enterprise in Oak Park. It won’t happen.