This letter is an attempt to express my view of the many accomplishments made throughout the eight-year leadership of Village President/Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb. It has been a major team effort to make these significant contributions, and his leadership provided the impetus.
Oak Park currently has more than 20 new developments, four of which are high-rises downtown. These four buildings have provided over 2,000 more residences and added close to $4,500,000 in taxes. Every year the Total Taxing Bodies need $220 million for operating with a minimum increase of $6 million needed each year. The Albion building alone pays over $1,250,00 (six years ago this property paid $38,000), plus they have been re-assessed with a staggering 33% increase before any contesting. Another positive side of the developments are that these new residents helped our restaurants to survive this past year through many carry-out orders. Increased restaurant visits create more sales tax revenue for the village.
Biggest tax winners because of the new developments are the school districts. Albion, with a small percentage of children, provides a major net contribution to the 3% to 8% increased annual tax base. Another winner is the ability to receive monies from developers to build affordable housing, which would not have happened unless Anan’s team made this a priority.
Madison Street eight years ago had numerous properties owned by the village with zero tax contribution and many deserted buildings. Now the village does not own any vacant land/buildings. With the additions of senior housing, Rush Emergency, Pete’s Market, Lexington Place, and a new recreation center, the village will have a significantly different look and experience than before. Madison Street will provide over $1,750,000 in annual property tax revenues, not including additional sales tax income.
I am in favor of more high-rises, more business development. However, with the current new tax assessments, higher cost of construction, and less priority given to expansion, Oak Park will see little growth in development over the next four years. Without new development, the average homeowner will have to pay these upcoming increased taxes ($6 million plus/year), thus forcing middle-income folks out of Oak Park. It is a great disappointment to me that some do not see the value of continued development and change.
Thank you, Anan and team, for working 40-plus hours per week these past eight years to get us where we are today. Your contributions to Oak Park will be lasting for many years to come.
Paul Beckwith, a longtime resident, describes himself as an “Oak Park and River Forest cheerleader.”