In last week’s Wednesday Journal, a resident commented that reductions in refuse collection reflect a likely “plummet” in Oak Park’s population. [Garbage numbers show decrease in Oak Park population, Viewpoints, March 17] We will see if that is true in the spring of 2011 when the results of the 2010 census are released by the U.S. Census Bureau. But I suspect that the village population will remain above 50,000.
The bureau conducts estimates of population numbers every two years between each decennial census. The Village of Oak Park appealed the bureau’s July 1, 2008, Oak Park population estimate of 49,557, and our challenge was accepted. The official 2008 population estimate was revised to 53,187. That estimate is an increase of more than 600 from the 2000 Census figure of 52,524. That change makes a real difference to the people of Oak Park. Prior to the correction, Oak Park was deemed ineligible for a roughly $225,000 energy grant requiring at least 50,000 residents, and didn’t receive the funding.
Keeping the village’s population above 50,000 also increases our local voice at the county, state and federal levels. That’s why I formed the 2010 Census Oak Park Complete Count Committee to remind all residents to return their census forms. And that’s why Oak Park wants to be sure that every resident is properly counted.
You may return your census form as soon as you receive it; they are due by April 1. Those residents who do not respond will receive a visit from a census enumerator later this spring, verified by a photo and other official identification. By the way, the 1930 census counted 64,000 people in the village; this was before the residential development of north Oak Park, so population density was even greater than today!
If you applied and tested for an enumerator job, you may be hearing from the census bureau in the next month or so about training. If you are willing to work beyond your own neighborhood or community, be sure to let them know this, as well.
Regarding refuse reductions, the decrease in refuse and recycling collection is by 8 percent, not the 13 to 16 percent quoted in the resident’s letter. While refuse and recycling amounts fluctuate between 1 percent and 10 percent annually, the waste stream is being diverted to a larger volume of recycling.
The Refuse and Recycling Department of the village, along with similar officials across the United States, report that the 2009 decreases are due mainly to the economy – people are not eating out, not buying new furniture, not replacing carpeting – all activities that contribute to the waste stream. The privatization of public litter-basket collections by the village last June further reduced the village’s waste stream (projected at about 180 tons per year). Overall, yard waste has been decreasing, probably due to greater use of mulching mowers and backyard composting, both initiatives that the village has been promoting through the years.
Teresa Powell has been the Oak Park village clerk since May 2009.