The current village board of Oak Park is already outdoing the previous board in terms of efficiency, at least in the arena of goal setting. The board adopted its goals for the years 2021 through 2023 during its June 14 meeting, just slightly over a month after the May 3 swearing in of new members. The process of adopting board goals for the years 2019 through 2021, on the other hand, spanned months, with the previous board finally doing so on Jan. 13, 2020.
The alacrity with which the new board adopted goals may astound. Discussion of the finalized goals lasted about 15 minutes before the board voted unanimously to adopt them, save Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla, who was unable to attend and therefore did not cast a vote.
“She would have really rather been at tonight’s meeting,” Village President Vicki Scaman told the trustees.
The 2021-23 goals fall into five categories: residential affordability, racial equity, community safety, sustainability and neighborhood support.
Under community safety, Scaman relayed that Walker-Peddakotla had asked to have the language “firm transparency at the community level” added to ensure information was shared with the public.
Instead of including uncertain community safety goals in the village’s request for proposal (RFP) to hire a consultant to review the police department, Scaman suggested adding an item stating, “contract for short-term, one-time specialized expertise to guide elements of our community safety goals.”
She clarified, “We are still as a village going to be reviewing an RFP and choosing a contractor to assist us through the process of reaching our community safety goals.”
The village president told the board they are set to review the RFP in mid-July, with the hope of approving it in August. She asked for the addition to be made to increase the transparency of hiring the contractor, whose scope of services will be determined by the board.
The present board members considered the suggested revision and accepted it.
Trustee Ravi Parakkat was concerned that certain goals lacked specificity, stating that people could have different interpretations of each individual goal, including the sustainability incubator.
“It’s really hard to get behind some of these things without that degree of specificity,” he said. “I see a lot of items there in that listing of goals that are not specific enough to wrap my head around at least.”
Scaman said commissions will provide recommendations regarding the goals to make them more specific upon adoption by the village board. The staff-drafted achievement timelines, according to Scaman, will also provide further specificity to each goal. The village board will review the timelines at its next meeting.