It is going to be a long spring, summer and fall on Lake Street in Oak Park. A massive public works project could be underway even before February closes. Ground zero will be on Lake near Oak Park Avenue where crews will get down to the dirt as water, sewer and utility work will come before the full repaving and streetscape project is layered on top.

But every linear foot from Harlem to Austin Boulevard will be at least scraped and repaved. In Downtown Oak Park and the Hemingway District, a major streetscape project will follow the design of the 100 blocks of North and South Marion Street. Happily, and responsibly, village trustees scaled back some of the most expensive elements of Marion Street saving $6 million off the initial price tag. 

By Thanksgiving the work is scheduled to be complete. But it is going to be a struggle in the meanwhile for our local businesses. A Shopper Rewards program has been funded by the village to encourage locals to be loyal to these businesses, many of them locally owned and without deep pockets. Oak Park talks a good game about loving local. We’re about to have that premise tested. 

North-south streets will remain largely open in the downtown during construction — the result of intense planning and consultation by village engineers. All of the parking garages will remain accessible. But east-west stretches of Lake will be fully closed for extended periods as a way to speed construction.  

Those businesses — Book Table, Lake Theatre, Delia’s, Katie’s Dumplings — will remain open and accessible at all times. You may have to just work a bit harder to get there. It will be worth it.

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