The consultant that previously designed lavish street improvements for the 100 block of North Marion and for Roosevelt Road is coming back for more.

Oak Park village trustees voted 5-2 Monday to approve a $102,739, no-bid contract with the Lakota Group. The Chicago-based consultant will work up designs for street improvements along Marion Street, just south of the viaduct, along with the 100 block of South Oak Park Avenue.

Oak Park is hoping to unify its main shopping districts, using similar-looking elements such as brick streets and bluestone sidewalks. The $6 million redressing of the 100 block of Marion has been a boon, officials say, as every storefront is filled on the block and millions have been invested in private properties near there.

Supporters hope doing the same thing in other places will bear similar fruit.

“I don’t think we can underestimate the value of moving these kinds of projects forward,” said Trustee Ray Johnson.

But trustees Jon Hale and John Hedges questioned whether it’s worthwhile to spend so much on streets and sidewalks. Officials are estimating that it will cost as much as $32 million to redo five key intersections in or around downtown Oak Park (though the village has applied for $18.4 million in federal dollars toward the project).

“This community is selling now,” said Hedges. “We’re getting a lot of businesses that are interested in coming into our community the way it looks now, without having to feel like we have to spend $32 million.”

Officials waved the bidding process because they’ve been pleased with Lakota’s past work, and they wanted to get the consultant going in December, with the hope that construction will start next year.

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