A strong impression, gained from collecting signatures to get on the April ballot for village trustee, is that a significant proportion of village residents are opposed to the new high-rises downtown. They are too tall. They don’t fit well with their surroundings. They are architecturally undistinguished. They are changing the character of the village. One argument that has been put forth in support of the high-rises is that increasing the tax base will mitigate the property tax burden on residents.
My experience is that that argument doesn’t sell with most residents. One response I heard was, “I haven’t seen any relief on my tax bill.” More dialogue is needed around this issue, especially with the recent proposal for a 28-story development across from Scoville Park. I am proposing a two-year moratorium on the construction of any new buildings over eight stories tall in downtown Oak Park.
A pause of this type would allow important dialogue to take place with regard to the consequences of these developments for the village: What are the tax and economic benefits? What are the service costs? Have the traffic and parking implications been taken fully into account? Have the aesthetic implications been taken fully into account? What alternative and less intrusive forms of development can be accommodated?
A moratorium would allow the community a chance to fully assess the impact of the existing developments, two of which are still under construction, so that informed decisions can be made going forward.