Kudos to Timothy Inklebarger for his excellent article on the upcoming “Donut Hole” development [Townhouse project creates parking crunch, News, Dec. 3]. It saddens me to know that this was the best collaborative idea our village could conjure. 

With good intentions, the YMCA had originally planned for the land as a community center. Because the village knew that this area was desperately needed for parking in the most overcrowded residential neighborhood in Oak Park, and a developer’s idea of an “Oasis in the Desert,” it was decided that the land will be used to build 22 additional homes. 

Maybe our native son Ernest Hemingway was right 100 years ago when he allegedly described his hometown as one of “wide streets and narrow minds.” This was probably his impression as a rebel youth attending Oak Park and River Forest High School. The ultimate non-conformist, Hemingway was always thinking “outside the box,” much to the chagrin of his parents and teachers. Yet today he is heralded as a visionary, the essence of the soul of Oak Park. 

So I wonder, why didn’t we use one of our best resources to come up with a fresh and innovative approach to “best use of land”? If you Google “award-winning public parking structures,” you will find some of the most incredible buildings constructed in overcrowded or blighted areas around the country (and a few in Europe and Asia). Because of their “green” construction and multipurpose utility for parking, roof gardens/parks, and community centers, many of these projects received government and corporate grants. 

And who were the “brains” behind many of these state-of-the-art structures? Students! 

So, the next time I want an opinion on something, I’ll probably ask some of my fellow aging baby-boomers. But I’m going to really listen to what a young person has to say. I wonder what would have resulted if we had run a sort of contest for every elementary and high school student to come up with a best idea for a community project such as the “Donut Hole.” 

Just a thought.

Barry Murphy

Mills Park Tower

Oak Park

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