My walk on a brisk Thursday morning started west on Adams Street and, within line of sight, appeared construction barricades that had been set up in the dark of night on the parkway from Lombard to Ridgeland avenues. These are the type that could break any little finger if a student were to brush against it on their way to school.
On the street side of the sign, away from the property owner’s view, was the message “Park District Staff Permit Parking 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.” My first thought was temporary parking — perhaps the Park District of Oak Park (PDOP) was repaving a lot on Madison Street, and the Village of Oak Park (VOP) had again avoided informing the neighborhood of an upcoming temporary inconvenience.
The last time a similar situation occurred the VOP gave temporary approval to a construction firm to park multiple oversized commercial trucks on the street which lasted over one year. Police were having to constantly monitor the vehicles as neighborhood children found the equipment adventurous. At the time, the village stated they were wrong not to inform the neighborhood, nor would it happen again.
Arriving home that morning, I contacted the VOP Parking Office. They stated the VOP board had approved a zoning change to allow PDOP employees to permanently park on the south side of Adams from Cuyler to Humphrey. They had no other explanation, stating I would need to contact the village board. I next emailed the Park District of Oak Park, who responded with an agreement signed in 2020 between the VOP and PDOP, whereby Adams would become a permanent commercial parking lot. It was apparent that neither party ever informed the residents/taxpayers from Madison to Jackson and Cuyler to Humphrey of this agreement.
Additionally, no traffic study was performed by the village of Oak Park as to the impact of using Adams Street as a commercial parking lot where vehicles will enter and exit traveling east through residential neighborhoods that have significant school-age foot traffic and no additional resources have been committed by an already understaffed Oak Park Police Department to monitor and address an increase in vehicle traffic.
I have written a letter to VOP President Vicki Scaman and PDOP Executive Director Jan Arnold with a carbon copy to board members of both governing bodies requesting that “the agreement by the VOP and PDOP to use Adams Street as a commercial parking lot be cancelled and both governing bodies collaborate on an alternative plan that could include a combination of adding parking below the Oak Park Community Recreation Center (CRC), use of the new parking lot west of the PDOP administration building, acquire additional land along Madison zoned commercial, and encourage PDOP employees to use public transportation.”
I await their reply.