We have just paid $5 million to make South Marion Street (aka the Pleasant District) as beautiful as bricks and bluestone will allow. And then the village board last week chose not to require landlords there to lease its storefronts to retailers or restaurants?

We don’t understand.

We do understand there have been a couple of strangely close votes on this issue. First the Oak Park Plan Commission narrowly defeated the retail overlay designation for South Marion. And then last week the Oak Park village board, down one member for the vote, tied 3-3 on the issue. Trouble is, after the plan commission gave its thumbs down on the issue, the village trustees need to muster a supermajority — that’s five affirmative votes — to overturn the commission.

So right now an empty storefront facing onto what was built to be a retail paradise can be leased to a chiropractor, an Allstate agent, a mortgage broker, even, dare we say, a newspaper.

Meanwhile, a half-mile east on Oak Park Avenue, the very block where Wednesday Journal has headquartered for three decades, the plan commission and the village board decided to go ahead and impose the retail-only regulations.

But this block sports just plain old asphalt and a streetscape that is not aging well after some 35 years in place. We have mixed feelings, and a decided conflict of interest, on the retail overlay for Oak Park Avenue. But if that is what it takes to protect the vacant corner of Oak Park and South Boulevard — long ago Thyme & Honey — from becoming another real estate office, then we are in support.

But it can’t be right that this tacky block is reserved for retail while the lush and lovely Pleasant District is not. The village board needs to get this right.

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