Updates with a historic feel are planned for Forest and Ontario, adjacent to Austin Gardens. (Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer)

The proposal to calm traffic and restore the historic character of the intersection of  Forest Avenue and Ontario Street continued to gain steam with Oak Park’s Historic Preservation Commission. The dual-purpose proposal from the village’s Public Works Department came back to the commission for an advisory review Sept. 9, where it scored positive feedback for the second time.

The project was dubbed “a great addition to the area” by Commissioner Lou Garapolo, who reiterated his supportive comments given Aug. 26, when the proposal went before the HPC’s Architectural Review Committee.

“Hopefully it’ll go forward quickly,” he said.

Commissioner Asha Andriana, new to the preservation commission, agreed. This was also the first meeting as a member of the commission for Nicole Alfred-Napper.

The Public Works Department’s landscaping and traffic calming proposal involves replacing pavers in the parkway near the Nineteenth Century Club, replacing crosswalks and adding small brick and limestone columns at the entrance to the residential area. The columns will serve to denote the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District.

The commission’s Architectural Review Committee gave the project preliminary feedback Aug. 26, where it was suggested the plaques on the columns utilize a pattern similar to stained glass designs of one of Oak Park’s Frank Lloyd Wright structures.

Village Engineer Bill McKenna and Brenda Kiesgen, of Site Design Group, who first presented the proposal to the Architectural Review Committee, returned for the advisory review from the full commission.

McKenna shared an updated plaque design reflective of the tulip pattern utilized in the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, proving they had taken the Architectural Review Committee’s suggestion to heart. McKenna told the commission they had reached out to the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust for permission to use the tulip pattern and it was granted.

“I’m glad you were able to use the tulip pattern,” said Commissioner Rachel Houze. “It looks good.”

The commission was widely pleased with the updated plaque design. Several commissioners chimed in to agree with Houze following her comments, which pleased Kiesgen.

“Thank you,” said Kiesgen. “I think it turned out well.”

As the review was merely advisory, the commission did not take a vote on the proposal.

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