There are still finishing touches to be made on Lake Street through downtown Oak Park. And the block between Euclid and Oak Park Avenue will be a construction zone for a short while longer.
But for all the pain and the consternation the to-the-dirt remaking of Lake Street has caused, it was always an essential infrastructure project replacing water, sewer and utilities underground while tearing out the worn down streetscape elements that had become tacky over 40 years.
As it wraps up a few thoughts:
It looks good. The streetscape is a modern design with old-time elements that meshes well with a new and modern downtown Oak Park.
It is a stable base from which to rebuild a downtown retail and restaurant world battered by the pandemic and shifting shopping patterns.
For all the upscale touches, this project got repeated cost shavings from village trustees who never get credit for pinching a penny. There was a lot of scrimping here, but it is still a worthy project.
We’ve said it before but downtown is done. Oak Park’s limited resources of money and bandwidth can now be turned to other districts in great need of attention, from Madison to Roosevelt to North Avenue.