If we want to try targeted fees for using precious public commodities as a way to cough up some extra cash, let’s go all the way. Herewith, I propose a list of practical places where usage fees can be applied – for the greater good of the Oak Park purse:
1) Sidewalk Usage Stickers: Not everyone in the village strolls along the concrete promenades. Hell, some of us never leave our living rooms. Ever. So if you want to walk on public thoroughfares, a daily, weekly or (for those with deep pockets and too much time on their hands) monthly Walking Sticker in fluorescent orange must be sported on a place of prominent visibility (lapel, hat brim, cellphone antenna) or risk the consequences.
2) Park Bench Meters: Some people really hog those babies. They say they’re watching the squirrels or something. Make ’em feed the meter. A quarter per 15 minutes of quality sit time. This is really a win-win, because if people are forced to get up and relinquish their bench space, they darn well better have an aforementioned Walking Sticker as they vacate the park.
3) Snowman Building Permits: Priced by the foot. You want to help the kiddies build a 10-footer, you’re going to pay. Kids, if you don’t have the dough, be industrious. Sell those bikes you can’t afford to ride thanks to the exorbitant sidewalk sticker fees.
4) Front Porch Pass: Do you plan on having three or more neighbors hang out with you on a lovely summer’s eve and sing the praises of life in a fair and civilized oasis like Oak Park? Sorry. Not without the Front Porch Mass Congregation Pass. Will you be enjoying a beverage whilst you kibbitz? Yep, you guessed it. An Open Air Cold Brewski Button must be worn on those thirst-quenching occasions.
5) Playground Tickets: Here’s one to warm the cockles of every nostalgic heart ancient enough to remember when amusement parks made you buy those streams of paper tickets-1 or 2 per ride. Let’s have the rug rats do the same any time they want to swing, climb, or otherwise recreate! After all, very few of us over 12 ever climb up on one of those contraptions. Make the ones who use them most pay through their cute little button noses.
6) Oak Park Entrance Fees: How have we managed to avoid instituting this one? It’s a natural. We fence in the entire village, set up a few strategically placed toll booths, and voila! Just like Colonial Williamsburg or the Grand Canyon or Disney World or many other wonders of the Western world, people pay for the privilege of passing through our portals. Will you be driving in and out of Oak Park on a regular basis? No problem. Introducing the Oak Pass (patent pending). Just affix it to your windshield, get in the Express “Oak Zoom” (likewise pending) lanes, and away you go! Another win-win. Should discourage the frivolous use of our streets to park on, which is where this whole thing began.