From a spokesperson for the Amazing Village Board: 

Dear Oak Parkers, we’ve been thinking outside the box recently and we wanted to share our brilliance with the people. We have a problem — no one wants to develop on Madison Street unless they can get some free land. As you all know, big stores need big lots and big lots need big parking. 

And there’s the problem. The Madison properties aren’t large enough for the Big Stores. If we want to provide lots large enough to attract the big businesses, we have only two choices: We either buy existing properties and repurpose them, or, and here is where we shine, we just move the lots into the street. 

Our studies show that no one wants to risk the extra expense for repurposing. Hell, we don’t even know what big businesses would want the space. So we are going the street route. 

We are going to chop up Madison Street, a primary artery. Imagine that! Presto, more land. For free. We’re going to squeeze the existing traffic into the neighborhoods. We are going to call this street butchery something innocuous and charming like “Madison Street Road Diet” or “Realigning Madison”! 

Everybody knows diets are healthy and good for you — like kale and more fruit. And you have to realign every once in a while to get back on track. Land grabs work, too, but that’s a little harsh. 

As you all know, Oak Park is landlocked. All we have left are the streets. There are too many streets. The people should be riding bicycles more often. They can put baskets on their bikes to carry stuff and put on snow tires for the winter. Then we can develop more streets. 

We can develop Washington into a landing strip for out-of-town shoppers. We can turn Adams Street into a canal and put in a restaurant or two. Imagine floating through Oak Park on a warm summer’s evening. Feeling a little peckish? Then dock at one of the charming patisseries that used to be South Kenilworth. 

Some do see a minor downside — a lot of the displaced Madison traffic will likely be plowing through front yards and careening down our side streets in perpetuity, but it’s a sacrifice someone will have to make. 

It’s possible that that section of Madison could become a little ghost town, and instead of Big Stores we could be left with a few zombie boutiques and big empty parking lots. Still, what’s our exceptional motto? Damn the torpedoes? Break the mold? Get out of line? Something.

Michael O’Malley 

Oak Park 

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