The heads of various departments in the village of Oak Park – public works, police, fire and finance, among others – laid out their priorities to members of the Oak Park Board of Trustees at a meeting at village hall on Monday.

The presentations covered everything from plans for renovation of the police station, which is located in the basement of Oak Park Village Hall, to implementation of new dockless bike-sharing programs.

Tammie Grossman, director of the village’s Development Customer Services Department, identified a number of initiatives for her department in 2019, including implementation of a new parking pilot program in the village. 

Development customer services also aims to promote use of its City View software, which allows developers and homeowners to schedule and check building permits and other tasks associated with the village on the internet. The promotion in 2019 also will include getting the word out about Oak Park’s Passport Parking system, which allows residents to pay for parking permits and passes online.

The department also will complete its digitization of remaining microfiche “so people can get information about their home” without having to come to Village Hall.

Implementation of a new dockless bike-sharing program also is at the top of the agenda list for 2019. Oak Park ended its relationship with Divvy bike sharing in early 2018 because of lack of usage and the high cost of the program.

Fire Department Chief Thomas Ebsen laid out a number of priorities for his department, noting that the department would like to replace one of its fire engines purchased in 1998 and add a third ambulance to its operations. 

The list of fire department asks also includes: replacing the fire station’s alerting and dispatch system; replacing overhead doors at two of its stations; renovating restrooms, lockers, showers and kitchens at its facilities; and replacing ambulance computers; among others.

Ebsen said the fire department also aims to increase diversity through its hiring practices in 2019. Those efforts could include stronger recruitment at Oak Park and River Forest High School and creating mentoring programs for students. “There are things we can do proactively to enhance our ability to recruit,” he told the board.

At the Oak Park Police Department, Acting Police Chief LaDon Reynolds told the board that the department aims to further evaluate its use of mobile surveillance cameras in the village and step up its use of social media to help keep residents informed. 

From the Public Works Department, director John Wielebnicki said he aims to begin looking into purchasing electric vehicles for the village’s fleet of various service vehicles.

“Of our complete fleet of a couple hundred vehicles, over 70 percent are what we would consider green vehicles,” he said, noting that those are made up of hybrid, biofuel vehicles and electric.

 Public works also plans to increase its review of water leaks throughout the village, proposing the village pay to have a leak study conducted in 2019. Oak Park learned earlier this year that about 25 percent of the water it purchased from the city of Chicago was lost due to waste. That amounts to about $1.2 million in unbillable water.


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