Oak Parkers rate village a good place to live

Survey shows decline in ratings for local leadership, governance

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The village of Oak Park has released its annual survey conducted by National Citizen Survey, showing nine out of 10 residents would recommend the village as an excellent or good place to live.

The survey results, released late last month, also show that between 40 and 50 percent of respondents felt positive about the leadership and governance of the village.

"For a number of the leadership questions there was a decline in resident ratings since the survey was last administered in 2015: overall direction, welcoming resident involvement, confidence in village government, working in residents' best interest and being honest," the survey report noted. "While these may be one time 'blips' in the trend, they are worth watching."

The survey was sent to about 1,500 residents and completed by 476.

Half of all survey respondents described the overall quality of life in the village as good, and 34 percent said it was excellent. Another 14 percent said life in the village is fair and 2 percent described it as poor.

Oak Parkers prioritized safety and the economy as the most important issues in the village.

Additionally, 85 percent said Oak Park is a good place to raise children and described their neighborhood as a good place to live.

Ninety-three percent of respondents said they feel safe in the downtown and commercial areas of the village, and 91 percent said they feel safe in the neighborhoods. A combined 77 percent said they have an overall feeling of safety in Oak Park.

The overall economic health of the village did not do as well with survey respondents, with 68 percent having a positive view of the village in that category. Seventy-one percent said the village has a vibrant downtown and commercial areas. Only 16 percent had a positive outlook on cost of living in the village.

Village spokesman David Powers told the Oak Park Board of Trustees at the Feb. 28 board meeting that most of the numbers remained steady from the last time the survey was conducted in 2015.

The dip in confidence with leadership and governance could be following a trend with disappointment in governance at the national level, he said.

The survey was conducted by mail and cost the village about $18,000.

Some trustees questioned whether the small response skewed the results. National Citizen Survey noted that any report has a 5 percent margin of error.

The full results of the survey are available on the village's website at https://tinyurl.com/ya5vz2sp.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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Brian Slowiak  

Posted: March 11th, 2018 6:45 PM

It is nice that the trustees questioned why only 1/3 of the residents contacted responded and 2/3s of the residents did not respond. However, if you add 56, 20,20,5 the total is 101%. How an you have a response of 101% when 2/3s of the residents did =not respond? sounds like the math used by the Visitors Bureau stating that everyday tourism brought in $600,000 into Oak Park? Was National Citizen Survey paid yet and if not can the village stop the check or cancel the check?

Monica Sheehan  

Posted: March 11th, 2018 1:53 PM

One final point that should be highlighted about the D200 news release, posted and promoted on its home page and included in the recent community newsletter, is its erroneous title, "District saves local property owners $1.4 million in taxes". The title's verb "saves" implies that the District implemented cuts or cost-saving efficiencies, but neither were the case. Taxpayers expect and deserve clear, honest, transparent and complete communications from its school districts and government entities. Spinning any "version" of the truth is unacceptable.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: March 10th, 2018 4:42 PM

@ Neal Buer: I will accept that, with the caveat that some elected officials start with a good heart and intentions and get side tracked along the way by agenda driven factions.Of all the people involved some of the elected official has less to gain from the outcome, except for contacts, then the paid crowd and their supporters. Please note I stated some of elected officials. thanxs for the challenge.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: March 10th, 2018 4:05 PM

@Brian - I think it is everyone involved with the the schools. They look at the maximum levy as their right to steal from the taxpayer, without considering that this is real money paid by real people.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: March 10th, 2018 7:52 AM

@ Neal Buer: Is the Board greedy, or is the staff of the school and the citizens who stand behind and push the agenda and staff greedy? Just asking.

Monica Sheehan  

Posted: March 9th, 2018 6:29 PM

If interested in reading the UNICOM ARC contract/proposal on the OPRF website, go to the Resources listed on the right side of the Imagine page. The link was cut off in my earlier posts. http://www.oprfhs.org/about/Imagine-OPRF-Work-Group.cfm

Monica Sheehan  

Posted: March 9th, 2018 6:23 PM

Here's the link to the UNICOM ARC proposal & contract: https://intranet.oprfhs.org/board-of-education/board_meetings/Regular_Meetings/Packets/2016-17%20Regular%20Packet/20170525%20Regular%20Packet/Action/20170525%20IMAGINE%20OPRFHS%20Contract.pdf

Monica Sheehan  

Posted: March 9th, 2018 6:13 PM

Neal, the D200 story is misleading and lacks transparency. It leads the reader to think that there was no increase to the levy, but that's false. At the 12/21/17 meeting, the school board unanimously voted down the staff's recommended 2.1% increase in CPI, but the school board did vote, six to one, to increase the levy by 0.8% for new construction. Matt Baron cast the dissenting vote. And, as you pointed out, the D200 story contains no context, no mention of the more than $100 million cash reserve that resulted from its decade of overtaxing taxpayers. As far as polling goes, according to UNICOM ARC's proposal and contract, D200 will be spending thousands more of our taxpayer dollars on at least one more opinion survey. The ARC in its name actually stands for "Attitude Research Company". It states on p.18 of its proposal that "We know of no other firm that has conducted as many pubic opinion studies for school districts as has our firm." https://intranet.oprfhs.org/board-of-education/board_meetings/Regular_Meetings/Packets/2016-17%20Regular%20Packet/20170525%20Regular%20Packet/Action/20170525%20IMAGINE%20OPRFHS%20Contract.pdf

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2018 11:47 PM

D200 is still spinning their actions. In the January 31st news letter it states, "The District 200 Board of Education has opted to forgo a standard 2.1% increase in the annual tax levy, effectively providing well over a million dollars in tax relief to local property owners." The standard 2.1% is the maximum allowed by law, not the standard. Apparently, the board is so greedy for so long that the maximum allowed by law is their standard. The newsletter also fails to mention the $100 million stolen from taxpayers in previous years which allowed them to not take the maximum.

Monica Sheehan  

Posted: March 8th, 2018 9:42 PM

The village spokesman's spin on the poll's negative findings on governance is disingenuous. Why spend $18,000 taxpayer dollars on a statistically valid survey only to discount it? It's reminiscent of the actions of D200's administration and school board in their response to the July 2016 Fako Public Opinion Survey. It showed the community overwhelmingly did not support building an oversized pool, yet D200 put one on the ballot anyway, attempting to hide it under minimal expenditures for classroom improvements for the performing arts and technology. That decision lacked integrity. Trust in local elected and paid officials is an issue for many voters. https://intranet.oprfhs.org/board-of-education/board_meetings/Special_Meetings/Packets/2016-17/20160728%20Special%20Packet/Phone%20Survey%20Report%20for%20BOE_072816.pdf

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