I talk when I drive. Sometimes in a raised voice. Maybe, if you’ve braved Oak Park Avenue over the past seven months, I’ve talked to you.
Likely I said, and here I’m paraphrasing and simultaneously cleansing, “It’s just a bump!”
As we have all noted, Oak Park Avenue has been under construction since Spring Training, since vaccines became widely available, since the days were lengthening and Hole in the Wall was still in hibernation.
This was one of those down-under construction projects. Water pipes. Sewer pipes. The vaguely worrisome “utilities.” Everything under the street that dated back to the late 1800s was replaced, whether it needed it or not. Then there were curbs and driveways. Asphalt scraping (so fast) and then a new layer of asphalt (so simple and flat) and the promise of a second layer of asphalt and then, voila, a new street.
Unexpectedly, unhappily and unfortunately the second layer remains elusive. Instead we have entered a new and tense phase known technically as screwing around with the manholes. What, the manholes were too low? Needed concrete poured around each precious one? Anyhow this manhole interlude has got me talking again to my fellow drivers.
It’s just a bump. Cars have springs or something. You can go faster than 12. Make the light!
Now it is true, and it weakens my case, but after seven months of essentially off-road travel up and down Oak Park Avenue that little air pressure light on my dash — sort of golden-hued, an exclamation point wrapped in parentheses — has now appeared. And now I’m talking to it. “I looked at the tires. They look OK.” “For God’s sake, the second coat of asphalt is nearly here!”
But as I’ve slowly driven this backbone of village transit this long year a few things I’ve noticed:
Walgreens (at Madison) really needs to replace and/or retape the historical pix that line its Oak Park Avenue façade. It was nice touch 10 years ago. Fix it.
The Oak Park Arms (at Washington) changed its awnings and signage from a deep green to maroon. I liked the green better. Let’s take a vote.
The Chase Bank drive-thru (at Madison) is the busiest drive-thru I know. Never been there myself. Still regret the loss of Clark Pontiac on that corner.
Oak Park Bank, Wintrust if you lift the hood, is about ready to open (at Lake). And while I still regret the loss of Winberie’s I’m not going to boycott it like I do Chase.
As reported by our Melissa Elsmo, Fritzi’s, a genuine Jewish deli, is coming into the old Geppetto’s pizza (at Hunter Court). Cannot wait for this. And locally owned, too.
That senior building going up on Madison and which I stare at when the driver in front of me, sometimes the mope two cars up, fails to make the light, is of good size, went up faster than the street got finished, and so far isn’t bad looking.
When at the same intersection, for the same reason, I also note there is still not a Pete’s Fresh Market rising. However, being a regular reader of the local paper, I know it is still coming. And I’m confident it will be superior to the one-month-of-the-year Christmas tree lot on the site.
The Community Fridge just outside Carnival Grocery (Just north of Harrison) is a terrific community building project. Thanks to all who make it work.
People will wait in long and semi-socially distanced lines in the middle of a dusty construction zone for ice cream from Hole in the Wall. We all need something we can count on.
Oak Park Bakery (just south of Garfield) will outlive us all. Thank God.
When this project finally ends, and it may, CVS (at Roosevelt) needs to replant its landscaping facing Oak Park Avenue. Send a memo to corporate. Will take about $5,000.
The coolest new building on Oak Park Avenue went up during the street rebuild. The 801 (at Van Buren) is 37-units of affordable housing. The building is nothing but handsome. Got a chance to tour it last week. What a great addition to the village. Our full story by Lacey Sikora is coming later in September.
That’s the report from Oak Park Avenue. And remember, it’s just a bump.