Editor’s note: This letter was sent before the village board was expected to decide Monday whether a permanent stop sign should be installed at Woodbine and Division.
Here are the top-five reasons our village leaders should install a permanent stop sign at Woodbine Avenue and Division Street:
1) It’s the right thing to do. The intersection is a major entry point to crowded Mann Elementary School and newly renovated Field Park. Yet, it’s a poorly marked crosswalk, where some cars slow down and others do not, making it difficult for adults, let alone children, to anticipate what drivers will do. Parents repeatedly have asked village officials to put up a stop sign, warning that a child might get hit if nothing were done. They were right: A 4-year-old boy was struck May 21. [Mann neighbors upset, not surprised, as 4-year-old hit, News, May 26] Parents predict it will happen again. Village leaders should listen to them.
2) It’s cheaper than defending a lawsuit. If a child were to die at that intersection, I’m sure village lawyers could come up with a legal argument why Oak Park was not at fault. But in a jury’s eyes, it would boil down to this: The village was alerted to the problem and did nothing. More importantly, just hours after the child was struck May 21, Police Chief Rick Tanksley believed the crosswalk so dangerous that he installed a temporary stop sign. To now remove a sign that Chief Tanksley – the village’s top safety official – deemed necessary opens the door to a multi-million-dollar jury verdict. Oak Park taxpayers would have to cough all the damages up, and village leaders would still have to put up the stop sign.
3) It will send a message to the weasels at the village transportation commission. Chief Tanksley demonstrated leadership by quickly installing the temporary stop sign. On the flipside, the transportation officials have been AWOL. When neighbors went to address them at their regularly scheduled meeting May 24, they did what all good public servants do when they know voters are upset: They canceled their meeting, saying more than half of the members couldn’t make it. Parliamentary procedure trumps school safety!
4) There’s no compelling reason not to. The transportation commission weasels are against the stop sign because they say there is already one a block away. Adding another one, they squeak, would create problems. Such as?
5) It’s politically smart. Those folks living in the northwest corner of Oak Park near Mann School seem to have lots of commitment and political willpower. Village leaders might as well give them their stop sign. Then the village can go back to issues we really don’t understand, like TIF districts.
Sam Roe is an Oak Park resident who lives a couple of blocks from the intersection of Woodbine and Division.