To promote better traffic flow, Oak Park’s village board voted Feb. 18 to concur with the Transportation Commission’s recommendation to remove the first three parking spots on the east side of Euclid Avenue just north of Lake Street.
“It’s just tight out there,” said Village Engineer Bill McKenna. “By removing those on-street spaces, it opens the intersection up a little more, allows traffic to get out of the intersection and into Euclid without conflicting with any kind of southbound traffic right at the intersection.”
Village Manager Cara Pavlicek added there are significant pedestrian conflicts when intersections gridlock. Kids cross the intersection to get to Oak Park and River Forest High School in the mornings, which is when a lot of traffic incidents occur.
“There’s a pedestrian safety aspect of this, too,” she said.
Trustee Simone Boutet, who lives in that neighborhood, understands the problem but said she also sees the same problem at other Oak Park intersections.
“My concern is we have a new business, we’re going to be tearing up Lake Street and we’re going to be banning plastic and we’re going to be taking away their parking,” Boutet said.
“We haven’t banned plastic,” corrected Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb.
“I know,” said Boutet. “But I think we have to have a better overall plan for this instead of saying, ‘Let’s do this now and plan for it later,’ because we’re doing a lot that’s going to impact the businesses and the residents in this area.”
Boutet suggested having a more comprehensive plan for replacing the parking before voting to remove it.
Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla said she was concerned about parking since the on-street spots on Lake Street will be removed during the upcoming street renovation project.
“Where are people going to park? Because we still want people going to our small businesses,” she said.
While Walker-Peddakotla understood the necessity of removing those spaces, calling the area “effectively a pinch point,” she asked McKenna if he could add parking spots somewhere else close by.
“Should the board approve the removal of those spaces, staff would be looking for opportunities to add back those on-street spaces,” McKenna said.
The village engineer said staff would look for spaces either on Euclid Avenue north of that area or look at restrictions on Lake Street in that immediate area.
“We do have the Avenue Garage there,” said Trustee Jim Taglia, of the village parking garage on North Boulevard just east of Oak Park Avenue.
According to Taglia, the fire department has concerns about getting their equipment through the Lake and Euclid intersection due to the tightness of the space.
“I’m fine with taking them away, but the thing that concerns me is that I can see people double-parking there,” he said.
Trustee Deno Andrews said he would support taking the three spots away if the rest of the street wasn’t permit parking during the day, as it is currently.
“I don’t think I can support taking parking away during this time,” he said.
When asked for her opinion by Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb, Trustee Susan Buchanan said, “I’m happy to vote to get rid of these parking spaces and trust that Bill will find three spaces somewhere else.”
In a 5-2 vote, with Andrews and Boutet in the opposition, the board decided to allow for the removal of the three spots, which will become a “No Parking Anytime Zone.”