Decision on narrowing Madison Street in Oak Park could come by June

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

A potentially $17 million decision to narrow Madison Street down to three lanes from four could come in the next couple of months.

Oak Park has been talking for more than a year about the possibility of squeezing the car-dominated stretch in order to add bike lanes in either direction, along with safer crosswalks for pedestrians heading north and south.

In November, village officials revealed that it could cost anywhere from $6.9 million to $17.3 million to pull off these elaborate plans. At the time, trustees asked for more information before making any decision.

On Monday, consultants lined up to discuss the positives of putting Madison on a "road diet." Other communities, such as Toronto and Seattle, have shrunk streets and seen speeds reduced and pedestrian safety increased. It's hard for businesses to succeed on Madison with cars whizzing by at 30 mph, said John Mac Manus, a landscape architect with Altamanu.

"Speed kills retail unless you're a major shopping center with a highway leading directly to it," he told trustees Monday.

But some elected officials expressed skepticism about whether such an expensive plan could produce the return on investment that Oak Park wants. Trustee Ray Johnson asked why other auto-dominated stretches are seemingly thriving, such as North Avenue in Elmwood Park, where there's a line of popular restaurants between Harlem and Thatcher.

Trustee Adam Salzman questioned whether Oak Park would see its Madison Street bikes lanes used as frequently as San Francisco or Seattle, where the weather is more temperate.

"One distinguishing factor is that the weather is a lot better," he said. "Bikers are much more likely to be out and about during any part of the year."

Consultants estimated that about 71 parking spots, or 10 percent of those currently available, would be lost if Oak Park were to pursue the road shrinkage. And traffic likely wouldn't devolve into gridlock, as Madison already has travel volumes compared to some of the narrower streets in Oak Park, such as Ridgeland.

Mark de la Vergne, with Sam Schwartz Engineering, said it's possible that some traffic will be pushed onto residential streets after the shrinkage. He said Oak Park could explore ways to beef up Washington and Jackson to be able to handle higher traffic volumes, while also adding traffic-calming devices (such as speed bumps) to minimize the effect on quieter blocks.

An added wrinkle is that the city of Chicago is considering building a bike lane on Madison, too. And consultants told Oak Park that it may want to coordinate with its neighbor to the east to create a path all the way to the Loop.

Trustee Johnson expressed doubts, though, as Chicago has yet to finish its portion of a street project collaboration with Oak Park on North Avenue. Not to mention the public safety concerns cyclists might have while pedaling through the West Side.

"Let's just remind our friends in Chicago that they started a streetscape project on North Avenue that's not been finished for seven years because they ran out of funding, and it's negatively impacting Oak Park," Johnson said. "We need to make sure we're looking at projects that haven't been finished before we start a new project, let alone the fact that there's a number of public safety issues in that 10-mile corridor that would have to be addressed to make sure people use it."

Mac Manus told trustees that the community's reaction, from both residents and businesses, has been generally positive about the road diet idea. Dennis Marani, head of the Madison Street Business Association, said he started with disbelief, but urged trustees to approve the plan in the coming months.

"Oak Parkers want to make Madison street part of where they live, where they work and where they shop," Marani said.

Trustees held off on having a detailed discussion about the plan Monday night. They plan to reconvene sometime in May or June to go over the financials of the proposal and make a decision.

Currently, Oak Park has about $7.6 million in its Madison Street tax increment financing (TIF) district available for the project, along with a $570,000 grant in hand to go toward the bike lanes, which would run from Lombard to Home Avenue. One possibility, officials said, is issuing bonds to make up the rest of the funding gap. Trustees asked for information about the village's total debt capacity, and whether Oak Park has the ability to take on an I.O.U. for the other $9 or so million it might take if the board decides to pursue the most expensive version of the plan.

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Posted: April 18th, 2012 4:25 PM


John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 18th, 2012 12:36 AM

Silly, you have every right to run for the board.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 11:53 PM

All the people who spend the most time on here are not the ones who will run. Priceless. Myself included. Yet they have these expectations of everyone else. Hmmmm.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 10:36 PM

John, the best metaphor I can think of is an old married couple. We (OP) have been bickering since the turn of the century. One day, the wife stops wearing makeup. The husband stops bringing flowers. They stop talking. Now, when they argue everybody just shakes their head & goes back to watching tv. lol

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 9:55 PM

Kyle - just keep in mind that the reason the streets are like that was because no one was watching the store.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 9:25 PM

People laugh when I'm always on about potholes & roads...but it's an outward sign of public morale. If you look out the door & the Village won't pave your street but will spend $17 million on a Madison road diet? Man, I wouldn't blame somebody for thinking "screw the village, they don't care about me."


Posted: April 17th, 2012 9:25 PM

John, I think you have part of it. It's the others who want to participate--but can't--who I feel bad for. Orthose who have given up b/c they figure anything within a mile of the govt is nothing for them to get dirty in. It's not all theirresponsibility to the community--it's a twoway street. The duty to them gets shirked. If you don't include the disenfranchised you're gonna get crime, population loss, & a host of other problems from people feeling ignored.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 8:52 PM

If Madison gets a Monorail, I definitly want a stop at New Rebozo's.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 8:40 PM

Kyle - I am retired and have a lot of choices on what I do with my time. Yes, I attend board meetings, but not all of them -- probably not even 25%. Life is made of choices. Any one who would choice a board meeting instead of an even with their kids is a psycho. I stay abreast by reading agendas, minutes, and following the press and WJ Comments. It takes a lot less time than people think. The big problem is those who say they want nothing to do with government or politics. That's their choice though it is like saying they don't care about their home value. There is also a level of responsibility to the community. Apathy occurs when everyone thinks someone else is paying attention. A 20% turnout proves that. The best way to drum up support for what you believe is to "chat over the fence" in person or electronically. Tell others what you think. Your already doing it -- very well!


Posted: April 17th, 2012 7:05 PM

Yes we can.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 7:04 PM

Oak Park is a top notch community for a reason. We have made good decisions along the way. Are we perfect? Is anybody? Can we improve? Who cant? I have confidence in the voting public of Oak Park that they will get it right. They seem to make things right along the way. Oak Park is a diverse place to live whether your a single, couple with no kids or family with multiple kids. Lets keep it that way.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 5:46 PM

How many monorail stops should we put in when we build the Madison Monorail?


Posted: April 17th, 2012 5:41 PM

Better idea - well put.The Village is constantly chasing magical dollar, either Federal or commercial tax base. Focus on the basics, and if the Village is a place worth opening a business, a business will move here. Everntually, rents will flatten out so that business can afford to come here like they do to Forest Park.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 5:38 PM

My point regarding coming from a job with a P&L is that costs have to tie to benefits, and in the for-profit world revenue and income. The Board is like a child with their parent's checkbook. They have no conception of tying cost to benefit, other than apparently improving aesthetics. As to the class of the board members, hard to say, but I'd say by background most come from the tax a lot and spend a lot end of the spectrum.

I have a better idea from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 5:32 PM

Or, we could just let the TIF expire without using it for a senseless boondoggle and give the money to District 97 and the high school, which has just laid off some award-winning teachers and will no longer be hiring anyone with anything over a Master's Degree and 5 years of experience in order to contain costs and put off a referendum that, according to the usual cycle, would have occurred in 2014 and is now projected for 2018 or later.

I have a better idea from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 5:27 PM

I've been an Oak Parker all my life-we need to think big! With a federal block grant, TIF money that we'll lose to the schools if we don't spend it right away, and bond issues for the maximum debt load, we can build a quadruple decker tunnel from Austin to Harlem: cars on the brick-paved bottom level, bike lanes on level 2 with rubber flooring, pedestrian walkways on level 3 with granite curbs and radiant-hot-and-cold slate sidewalks, and covered athletic fields, pools & tennis on top!


Posted: April 17th, 2012 4:52 PM

To extend that last point, the 7,000 or so votes it took to get a seat on the Board, I'd like to see the demographics on who voted. I don't think it is that people don't care, per se, about local politics. People don't vote because they work, they can't get a babysitter, etc.. How many of them approve of the way things are done?


Posted: April 17th, 2012 4:49 PM

@John How many people working 2 jobs with 2 kids...and maybe they coach or like to bike or, you know, have a life...can get time off to go to Board meetings? Basically, the stakeholders are not the ones who can participate in having a say over their own affairs. And that's a community issue we need to address more than getting divisive about class, race, renters vs owners. Maybe not "elite" but still out of touch with many Oak Parkers.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 4:46 PM

$$$$$$ - Congratulations. You are officially on the "elite" list.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 4:45 PM

$$$ what greater cost? I like new stuff, too, but let's not buy a million dollar house then eat instant noodles because we can't afford anything else. My stance is that all that stuff is important & should be given priority AFTER we take care of the essentials first. What if we'd gone halfway on all that other stuff & rebuilt the sewers & roads instead of palaces? People need to say yes...but we say it far too often in this nation. We need people to say no every now & then, too.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 4:44 PM

I disagree - the board members, with the possible exception of David Pope, are working people with salaries in the range of the average household income. Four get paid by non-profits -- no gold mines there, one in business, one a consultant, and one retired OP Park & Rec Director. They are not in the "elite class", but they do interact and are probably influenced by the "elite." Too frequently we see corruption and favoritism when what we are seeing is lack of communication, poor acceptance of change, and incompetence. It is very important in a political campaign to separate these things careful. An erroneous personal accusation is the fastest way to lose credibility.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 4:39 PM

You have to keep up with the Jones. If your tapped out now, what do you think its going to be like in 10 years? Even IF new leadership was to come to Oak Park. You are in big trouble my friend. If we said no, there would be no new beautiful library. There would be no revamped parks. There would be no new middle schools. There would be no new PW building. There would be no new fire house. I am glad someone said YES.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 4:19 PM

Hmm, interesting theory, Done. I follow...this goes back to what I was saying awhile ago about the Board essentially being from a leisure class. We pay them nothing hardly. It's an extra activity that many in the community can't afford--being involved in public service. I do think that influences the agenda.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 4:02 PM

I'd be willing to bet no board member has ever voted down a measure because they personally cannot afford the increase in taxes that will come along with the borrowing a project will entail, like redoing Madison and Lake, while not really considering if the majority of taxpayers are tapped out. This economy has to force village boards to rethink expensive projects in order to keep the balance on excessive debt that the villagers cannot afford.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 3:57 PM

OPRFDad: "...maybe one of whom actually is involved in a business that has a P&L." I have to take issue with your idea about this. The Board members are those who have a "better" standard of living than the rest of us and can afford the increase in costs when passing on projects to the residents. And when spending gov't money, there is an unrealistic "unlimited" supply of funds (i.e., taxpayers). When gov't plays with money that isn't theirs, there is no incentive to spend less.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 3:16 PM

Reading OP history, it seems we've had quite a number of strange periods. lol Well, living in IL in general, it's a should we say it...different way of doing things! We can turn the most boring things in the world into high drama. Where I'm from, if this stuff happened in local politics it would have made for quite a scandal being so out there. Other parts of the nation this stuff is actually fairly mundane. lol

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 3:01 PM

If you want to understand Bob Milstein as a board member you have to real the minutes of the period. Bob sure had a way of being bombastic and dogmatic but was an amateur in that areas compared to Board President Trapani. It was a very strange period in OP History.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 2:52 PM

JBM I see no relevance in your question. This is not colonial Virginia of the 18th century when only the landowners vote.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 2:52 PM

BTW, Whoever you are that mentioned Bob Milstein thanks for the research material...I found a letter to the editor from 2005 from someone complaining about all the potholes. lol 7 yrs later & still crumbling roads. @John I'm less concerned w/who is in than their focus. I hear what you're saying, but IMO you don't need a businessperson for that. Keep it simple & it's not rocket science. It's policy making. Now should the VM be business experienced? You betcha.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 2:50 PM

Kyle - I agree with you on the staffing. There should be no more than five directors reporting to the CEO(the village manager). It would vastly improve the inter-departmental interaction.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 2:48 PM

Do you even own property in Oak Park?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 2:43 PM

OPRF Dad and Kyle - I believe that strong business knowledge is an asset for board members and that our board is weak in that arena. The Mediation Agreement between the village, D200, and D97 stated in its outcomes "An acknowledgment that the Downtown TIF's performance and current finances have been impacted by unmet assumptions and economic circumstances not contemplated in the intergovernmental agreement from 2003." The TIF failure was a lack of foresight, forecasting, and an unrealistic commitment of village resident investments that were not achievable without extreme risk. A business focused board member might have foreseen that. The same board member could have become entranced by the "Brick Dream" and wandered from simple business common sense. If you laid out the FULL details of the Downtown project at key steps in planning and development to the entire village population, including high school students, most would have clearly seen the high risks in the decisions being proposed. Residents in 2003 were very conscious of the looming housing bust, and had already faced the reality of the speed of change in the 21st Century, and were cutting back on spending and taking second jobs in 2003. Large business developments had already made major retrenchment of business plans. Residents and business cut back their plans long before the village did and long before the national economy collapsed. The decision makers did not fail because of lack of knowledge, they failed because of a lack of common sense.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 2:33 PM

You'll have to forgive me not understanding your in-joke. Newbie still catching up on my Village history! As best I can tell he was a non-VMA Board member? I see something from 2003 of him advocating Neighborhood Design where groups of neighbors get to design changes for their area. Districts assigned to Board members? Increasing minority involvement? Hmm sounds like Mr. Milstein & I would agree on a few things. :-)


Posted: April 17th, 2012 2:19 PM

Ha Ha. Ask Bob Milstein about that.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:57 PM

Re: Slates...if it were a loose federation of candidates, maybe. I wouldn't waste time trying to come up with one vision though. More like just a collection of Trustees that may form an alliance for voting. One good voice on the new Board doesn't help if he/she doesn't have friends when they're the lone "no" vote.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:55 PM

Interesting you say liberal, OPRF...I suspect we're on very different ends of the political spectrum, but agree at least about spending. It'd be a whole different conversation if potholes were filled, sewers replaced, & we were sitting on a pile of Village cash. I might advocate for the current scope. I don't really see it as a political issue, interestingly. I just see it as a community issue. We all suffer in the end if we wait to do the basics.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:53 PM

Hi J OP - In an article about the 2013 elections, Lynn Kassen said she did plan on running in 2013. That's great. She also said she was trying to form a slate. I am not sure that is good. She is strong enough to win as an independent by getting independent support. Slates fog an candidate's message and make is easier for the VMA to dismiss and attack a slate simultaneously.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:49 PM

I was waiting for the 1st person to say business sector, OPRFDad...I should have guessed it'd be you! lol I see the logic, but am dubious about outcomes. Could they avoid corporate-think & focusing too much on business? It depends on where they came from, I suppose. If they were a textbook editor who coaches soccer I might be less suspicious of motive. But I agree about too much govt. 13 depts? Really?!


Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:48 PM

This is a Village of 50,000, we just don't need this much government.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:46 PM

Sorry, it was Kyle advocating for fewer corporate types. I take the opposite view. I think greater participation of corporate types would be a good balance to the spending orgy that constitutes the existing Board. I look at the board and by background and current employment see very liberl people, maybe one of whom actually is involved in a business that has a P&L.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:46 PM

The only way I see huge change coming to the board is if there is a sweep (4-0) against the VMA. Very unlikely considering the VMA's record and outstanding performance over the years. Fun to watch none the less.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:43 PM

The last time the board was split, it was a nightmare. Bob Milstein wasnt re elected becasue of it. Things dont get done. To get anything done on a board of 7, you need at least 4 votes. The split board also lost 2 of 3 new trustees which didnt help matters. Those had to be filled with new people who didnt campaign. The time to bring people up to speed is what is key. Even from a procedure stand point.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:40 PM

Thanks for the clarification on Ray Johnson. Below is the link to the Village website Board member descriptions. Contrary to John Murtagh, I'd say the missing piece is a true businessman. Most of the people on the board are either social servants or working in the social service aspect of a business - even Ray Johnson. Explains why the Board's decisions lack saavy and are very "pie in the sky."


Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:24 PM

@John I don't pay enough attention to current votes, but my impression from reading OP history is back in the day there used to be some pretty contentious, split decisions on the Board with shifting alliances & blocks of voting. Personally, I prefer reps who act less on community as a whole & vote more from the stance of protecting resident interests. Just MHO. But that's why I also would favor neighborhood reps.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 1:17 PM

@j I had the meeting on my calendar to attend, but I'm going out of town later in the week & opted for time w/my kids & packing. I'm not a fan of zoning, per se. I'd rather see the Village use carrots & offer expiring incentives & perhaps negotiated exclusivity to bring in business that doesn't exist within a certain radius. Or something similar. If we want a Carsons, go talk to Carsons & see what they'd want. Put out a call for proposals from small ind business & a citizen panel to pick.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 12:55 PM

what little I saw was a audience member asked for a Carson's: the response was that a store like that would like other stores in the same category around it. Makes sense: so then why are we loading Madison with Aldi, A new wig store, fast food joints and more Beauty supply and nail salons and a low income housing building? Unless that is what we want on Madison: low grade shopping. We have zoning rules, but make allowances for the kinds of stores we (most I talk to)don't want.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 12:51 PM

The people have spoken. They will speak again in 2013. Did I hear that Lynn is running again? Murtagh said he voted for her and liked her.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 12:42 PM

Did anyone go to the meeting last night? I saw part of it on channel 6, I had a meeting out of oak park last night, and it seemed that the interim village manager was pointing out some lack of guidance and policy information from the board to the staff. Not much response to her statement from the board; I couldn't tell if they were dumbfounded that they were challenge and rendered speechless or simply had no answers.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 12:42 PM

More important than the education,personalities and skills in a board member is the trust the community has in the individual and the amount of common sense a board member displays. There is a perception that board members should act as a team. That is wrong. Each board represents the community as a whole - individually and independently. Each board member discusses, recommends, negotiates, trading, etc. as an individual at meetings. The board comes together as a committee of the whole only when it votes. The visual icon of Oak Park Village Board is its arrival at meeting together in a line as if they were the Supreme Court. That gives a signal of unity which does not and should not exist.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 12:38 PM

You fool nobody. Murtagh does the same thing, as does his daughter, etc....


Posted: April 17th, 2012 12:10 PM

High education should not be a qualification for the Board, but I would hope high intelligence would be. Or, rather, a high level of curiosity about the minutia of what is on voters' minds. That said, I'd prefer to see fewer banker/corporate stiff types (sorry, nothing personal) at the local level b/c it really is "ordinary people" who could probably do more to get away from the groupthink so often seen in gov.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 11:45 AM

Ray is employed in marketing by a national firm. If Greg Marsey is with Jimmy John's, it is likely that he own or is partner in the business(s). Both have the qualifications that most people expect for a trustee. High educational attainment is not a qualifier for the board, and that is good. Board members should profile the community as a whole.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 11:36 AM

The gadfly is revving up her nonsense but continues to lurk in the shadows. Two different screen dubs already this morning! She's never shown the courage to stand up and speak as a credible person. It's all just a lot of blither blather. Let's see if she is able to generate a single comment in support of her baloney that is facebook verified. The gadfly is like most bullies; she'll run for cover when challenged.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 11:34 AM

@OPRFDad: I think you are thinking of Greg Marsey, former board member who owns or co-owns a Jimmy John's in Downers Grove...I always found it funny that he did not open up shop in Oak Park. If I remember correctly, when Marsey opened his JJ in Downers there was no JJ in OP. Ray Johnson is a Program Manager HSBC...he is a "bankster"

Steve from North Berwyn  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 11:28 AM

@@Coughlin, I hope it is true that "Facebook Verified" posters also post as other names. This one way conversation with one's self is healthy. It is better than standing at the expressway on/off ramps panhandling or hanging out in front of Walgreen's trying to bum smokes off me.

@FRPO Dad  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 11:28 AM

I think you are confusing Ray Johnson with Greg Marsey. He works at a Jimmy Johns in Downers Grove.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 11:20 AM

Is it true that Ray Johnson works at Jimmy Johns? There's nothing wrong with that as a job, but I'd hope for a little more in our elected officials. Although I suppose I should be careful about what I wish for. Pope was a consultant, and look at what that got us: a Village that is lousy with consultants and an obsession with hardscaping.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 11:16 AM

Dont let Jim Coughlin fool anybody. He posts under numerous names and then he posts under his facebook verified name and then casts stones to others. Typical. Bogus from the get go. Coughlin and Murtagh are really bad for Oak Park.

step out of line onto our bricklickous streets  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 11:09 AM

Broad bike lanes and narrow minds (and streets); empty wallets

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 10:43 AM

The gadfly responds by dredging up one of her old dubs. She's got a million of 'em but none are ever facebook verified. Make your case, "James". Prove you are not just that same, old baloney slinger. Take that brave step and we'll talk.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 9:33 AM

I'm buying his/her baloney Jim. I know your ego won't let you believe more than one person can't stand your comments but it's pretty clear that's not the case.


Posted: April 17th, 2012 8:55 AM

@John Thanks, good point. I just figured somebody would point out his seat isn't up so I'd beat them to it. Let's say Pope doesn't run & Ray Johnson wants President & wins. What happens then to Mr. Johnson's Trustee seat?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 17th, 2012 12:50 AM

Be careful - Who is the caution for? Ray with nearly ten years on the board beating a first timer by 341 votes is hardly impressive!

Be Careful  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 11:34 PM

Last election results: Ray Johnson-7,028.Bob Tucker-6,687.Adam Salzman-5,691. and the losers: Lyn Kesseen-4,852 ans Louis Carmichael-2,113.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 9:36 PM

Kyle - just because Ray's trustee term is not up until 2015, that does not mean that he won't be a candidate. Word is that he will run for President. That is; if David Pope decides not to run or the VMA decides not to endorse him.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 8:34 PM

The gadfly seems to be extra busy these days. How does she keep track of all the dubs? There are at least a dozen screen names currently being used by her to create a false and misleading impression that there exists some sort of a unified consensus of opinion on this forum that supports every board policy and decision. No one is buying that baloney but the gadfly keeps trying to sell it.


Posted: April 16th, 2012 6:49 PM

Perception is politics though, isn't it, Brick? Over in the Bleeding Heart Bakery story, Ray Johnson replied that crime is down in OP. It is. That's true. But the work never stops...I have a lot of problems on my st w/speeding, illegal parking, crosswalk violations, etc.. Does it mean the police are doing a great job or mediocre job? Depends on your perception.  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 5:41 PM

I dont speak for trustee Johnson or any one besides myself, but I think he would agree about having as many ideas to further advance Oak Park as he can get. What gets me mad is the approach from the political opposition that says untruths and tries to explain other peoples positions and what others have in their heads. More times than not, they get it wrong, intentionally or not. It doesnt have to be that way. Disagreements are fine. Lies are not.

Silly the Speller  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 4:20 PM

Silly! Use a dictionary! Are we really supposed to take guidance from someone with the spelling skills of a poorly taught 4th grader? If you can't spell, why should we assume that critical thinking is a strength?


Posted: April 16th, 2012 3:53 PM

Oops, my bad, Mr. Johnson isn't up. 2015 then.


Posted: April 16th, 2012 3:51 PM

@Brick I can say if it's making you mad chances are it's uncomfortably close to the truth. LOL I trust that Ray Johnson knew when he got into politics that he'd have to answer to unhappy constituents. If his record for Oak Park is so great, he can put how much he's done for all of us out there if he's running again come spring. If Mr. Johnson really wants the best for OP he should encourage as many ideas about improving the Village as he can get.


Posted: April 16th, 2012 3:49 PM

Thats why they have TIFs in the first place. Tell the others about spending money we DO have.


Posted: April 16th, 2012 3:39 PM

I actually think Jim's point is a reasonable compromise. That's the elephant in the room is the potential bond/debt. Let's not burden future generations w/questionable projects. If the TIF money is there, fine, spend it. No more.

Enough already  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 3:30 PM

Coughlin, thats what YOU EXPECT. If your so inclined to have the elected leaders have your exact expectations, then RUN FOR OFFICE. Dont leave it up to chance. There are 50 thousand residents of Oak Park. I hate to brake the news to you, but they all dont think exactly like you. Thank God.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 3:26 PM

I trust Trustee Johnson will support a responsible plan for Madison Street that does not include the Village taking on any additional debt. Spend what is available in the TIF fund and whatever grant money can be secured. I also expect he will support a requirement that all contracts be awarded based upon an open and competitive bidding process.  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 3:16 PM

Murtagh, your approach of throw stones now and ask questions as to truth later SMELLS REALLY BAD. I believe your ploy to try and discredit Trustee Johnson has and will continue to fail. There is a reason that Trustee Johnson has been elected 3 times to the board and its not becasue of all the erroneous crap you put on here in the name of politics. You are a disgrace to whoever you endorse and try to elect. Your bitterness will never make history change.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 1:38 PM

Brick - Am I political? Yes. I have been for decades. I have been elected to public office, have run political campaigns, served on committees, commission, PTO boards and have planted lawn signs. Do I find politics dirty or smelly? No! There are those in politics that can be accused of dirty and smell, but their numbers are minimal. Most elected officials are honest, fair, and obective. They are in office because they want to give service and they know that politics is part of good governance. Some of our officials tout that they are their to do their duty and have no interest in politics. Beware of the purest, they can be the dirtiest of all.

So Long Ray  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 1:08 PM

And Miriam Websters online define flamboyant:Definition of FLAMBOYANT 1 often capitalized, characterized by waving curves suggesting flames <flamboyant tracery> <flamboyant architecture> 2 marked by or given to strikingly elaborate or colorful display or behavior <a flamboyant performer> %u2014 flam?boy?ant?ly adverb Move along Ray, nothing more for you here.


Posted: April 16th, 2012 12:54 PM

@Brick If you're doing a public duty, the receptionist shouldn't be able to so much as doodle on a napkin at lunch without it being public on the website. Anything else looks under the table. It's not politics, it's actually kind of a right of every citizen to demand accountability of their govt. :-) If there is no list...well, that's a whole other problem! lol  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 12:49 PM

I love it how murtagh addresses Trustee Johnson as if he or the board deliberately with held any lists being published. Unfounded as usual-speculation on murtaghs part. Now murtagh is using the unethical word. POLITICS, POLITICS, POLITICS. Murtagh reeks of smelly politics. Its a shame that he has to constantly blame blame blame the wrong people/groups for things that are either untrue or not in thier control. Its sad but expected from the ilks of murtagh.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 12:18 PM

Ray, you need to review the tape of that meeting. Plus you need to Merriam Webster the term "transparent". Not releasing the priority list for public projects might not be illegal, but it is certainly unethical.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 12:14 PM

Craig - As I recall there was no discussion of the Madison infrastructure at the board meeting so I assume there is still no infrastructure improvement in the plan. The $17m plan (the most expensive) contains no infrastructure work. There is 9.3M for utility upgrades in the budget. Any diversion of that money would be at the expense of neighborhood needs.


Posted: April 16th, 2012 12:06 PM

I don't know about it not equitable b/c of it or vice versa? Not equitable therefore politicized? Anyway, who are you saying should have access to the CIP then? The Board should have no role? The VM should set the agenda for how that gets spent? I don't even like a planning committee per se. I think the only fair method is to put every part of the Village on a rotating "get your turn" improvement schedule then figure out % of that avail in the budget each yr.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 11:47 AM

@Kyle ... the purpose of the CIP is to base public infrastructure expenditure allocation solely on need and costs, within the limits of the capital budget. Involving the village board only politicizes this process, resulting in an unequitable allocation of public funds and overspending, as already demonstrated with prior and proposed streetscaping projects. CIPs have value, if only the village board refrains from intervening with their pet projects.


Posted: April 16th, 2012 11:29 AM

Enuf, I have 2 words for you infrastructure planning: participatory budgeting. If anyone doesn't know what it is, Google it. We need to not leave such huge matters up to a 7 member board & need voters (or voter delegates) to decide what projects get money. But you're right, nothing is on the website. It all needs to be accessible & highly public. I don't trust the CIP, btw. It marginalizes the need to spend a greater proportion of Village revenue on inevitable issues.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 11:23 AM

The village has an annual and 5-year Capital Improvement Plan, which ranks and prioritizes public infrastructure projects. The problem is that it no longer is posted on the village website nor available at OPPL, as required. The other problem is the village board (PoJoCo) intervenes by placing their downtown wish list items, such as streetscaping, at the front of the priority list. Thus, we are left with Trustee Johnson unsubstantiated claims re. infrastructural improvements.


Posted: April 16th, 2012 11:23 AM

@Brick If you're saying the VM is who to blame, I agree...somewhat. But it's the Board who hires the VM so they need to do a better job. AND, the Board is free to direct the VM on how to implement policy decisions. They can tell the VM at any time to change operations...the VM serves only at their pleasure.  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 9:53 AM

Kyle, the VM is hired by the Board and s/he is responsible for getting things accomplished. The board will direct staff in many situations when they need more info to make policy level decisions. I love it how murtagh loves the work of the PW dept but then rips them apart regarding lists they would produce?


Posted: April 16th, 2012 9:51 AM

Observer, that was going to be my very question for Ray Johnson is if underground work is a priority let's see the continuing plan for it. Priority how? You take care of it on a case-by-case basis? Is there an organized method for letting residents know the status/age/condition of their neighborhood sewers?


Posted: April 16th, 2012 9:47 AM

@Brick Who'd want to work for such a dysfunctional employer? LOL FYI The Board doesn't direct every task but is responsible for making sure those who actually do the tasks are capable & get the job done. In other communities, information is free-flowing, easy to find/use, and the very thing you mock is daily business as usual.


Posted: April 16th, 2012 9:45 AM

The Village does prioritize underground work only when there is a problem. However, the prioritization comes into play when the Village has TIF money that needs to be spent. Then the work is to repair something and has nothing to do with TIF money. If OP was really concerned about "underground work," then they would take care of the sewers in South OP and NE OP.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 9:37 AM

@ Mr. Murtagh: the synonyms to 'flamboyant' include bold, emphatic, and brilliant, per I am not egotistical enough to agree with "brilliant", but bold and emphatic are true. What I said was that risk exists where we have 100 year old sewers. I specifically used an example of a collapsed water line on Montrose in Chicago where commercial businesses suffered foundation damage and were closed for several months. "Theatrics?" Hardly..The VOP does prioritize underground work.  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 9:34 AM

Why dont you guys just apply for a job with the Village and you can run the Village literally. The amount of micro managing that you do online is laughable. FYI, the board only gives broad policy direction. The comments on here would make anyone believe that the board directs every task the employees of VOP do. Does anyone know if they cleaned the sidewalks in front of Village Hall yet? Is there a list as to when they are going to? Do you know who will be doing it? Will it be am or pm?


Posted: April 16th, 2012 7:23 AM

Wait, there's a priority list for trees & sidewalks? When did this happen?! lol Seriously though, that's a major issue is not being able to see past the ends of their noses. If there is a formal, organized, thoughtful plan of dealing w/needs they need to do a much better job of letting residents know. It looks haphazard. I know there is grand vision overall (there is a Master Plan, right?), but no timely grand vision for getting the less monumental done.

Craig Chesney from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2012 6:57 AM

John - I thought I had heard the same statement in March that's why I was trying to clarify what was included. I will ask again for my personal understanding. I plan on attending the economic development forum tonight at Village hall in hopes to gain some insight on their perspectives on these various projects.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 15th, 2012 10:12 PM

Craig - it amazes me that the village does not have a priority list for infrastructure based on the condition of the sewers and the streets. They seem to have priority list for everything else (tree planting, sidewalk repair, etc.) If the comments are valid it becomes hard to understand why East Marion sewers were a priority for a puff streetscape project. Even worse is the board's attempt to put a sewer project into their TIGER deal. From the board table, Ray Johnson flamboyantly stated that all of Lake could collapse and the foundation of building damaged or destroyed. If there is no list, Johnson theatrics was just another example of his "at all costs" passion for the Greater Downtown Development.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 15th, 2012 10:01 PM

Hi Craig - In a letter from Craig Fallor to Cara Pavlicek of March 23 in prep for 4/2 Madison Board Meeting, Fallor wrote, "Keep in mind that the above-mentioned alternative (4) do NOT include any necessary utility improvements or potential contamination remediation."

Craig Chesney from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2012 9:42 PM

I assume that this infrastructure cost is built into the 17 Million estimate, but didn't clarify that question.

Craig Chesney from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2012 9:40 PM

John Murtagh just an FYI. I asked staff about the sewer and water lines. And the response was that the Village would rebuild any water or sewer lines that are necessary as part of this project. Water lines are, depending on the stretch, range from 96-115 years old. More than likely they all would be replaced with 12 inch lines. They are currently 6-8 inch lines. Sewer lines, depending on the stretch, range in age from 41 -115 years old. Most of the line will be either replaced or fixed.

Dist 97 Referendum  

Posted: April 15th, 2012 8:22 PM

You can thank the schools for most of the high taxes.

Peter from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2012 6:52 PM

Yet another hair-brained scheme from the powers that be at Oak Park. Between the Marion Street boondoggle, the Condos/hotel that became a massively subsidized apartment behemoth, to this latest nonsense, the VOP is simply out of control. Taxes are too high, and this is the **** that they come up with? How do we get rid of these clowns once and for all?  

Posted: April 15th, 2012 6:21 PM

Another wonderful day in Oak Park. People out shopping, dinning, and loving the outdoors and space in Oak Park. Meanwhile the inside complainers continue.....While you are at it and looking at what is so wrong in your eyes, why dont you stop and smell the roses and see whats "wright"!


Posted: April 15th, 2012 2:51 PM

@John I just pick on the tasks of PW because they happen to be some of the most visible problems. Not their fault. I think the issues are more systemic of the whole Village rather than any one dept. Communication improvement is a huge issue. Constituent services. I know they're redoing the website so maybe some things can be streamlined. Finding news & info is a lot easier in many cities. And worse in others...I'd rank us in the middle. Same w/actual services. I'm more about creating efficiency.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 15th, 2012 12:30 PM

Hi Kyle - I have no inside information on the DPW and have no way to compare it to DPW's in other municipalities. What I observe is an organization that responds to emergency situation (snow, tree down, etc.) quickly and thoroughly, hires top notch contractors for street repair, tree disposal, and put together with a lot of insight and cost figures - a must. I think Director John Wielebnicki and Chief Engineer Jim Burdick are top flight and hard workers. I hope that Wilebnicki puts his name in the hopper for the Village Manager position. We need someone whose prime focus is on customer service. There will always be flub, but it is also hard to figure out who REALLY made them.


Posted: April 15th, 2012 10:04 AM

@John Saying PW is the best dept is like saying a cold is the least deadly disease. It's still not fun to catch...but you're right about orders/budget. lol It's the VM/Board's fault we're underfunded and/or lack initiative on getting things done. BTW, I'm not even talking about a rebuild. I thought maybe I should clarify that, too...I'd be happy just with a simple grind & make smooth on the majority of our bad roads. Getting the Surface Road Score above 80, that's fine. 90 is too much to dream.


Posted: April 15th, 2012 9:57 AM

@A Resident & @Kyle... Before I read that comment others have noted that the Village will be having to look beyond the TIF for money for Madison. Not to mention that TIFs are paid for by increases in property tax revenue from the area who gets improvement. I'm not really interested in a TIF debate, but they're not good IMO. You're correct about the CIP, but the spending is still far short of what it should be on road repair. We waste money on fluff when we need to spend it on upkeep.


Posted: April 14th, 2012 7:29 PM

If I were a cyclist, I would not ride on Madison -- too busy. I don't understand the logic of removing a lane.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 14th, 2012 5:28 PM

7M is the estimate of how much money is left in the Madison TIF. The 10M or so, would have to come from a bond sale or a loan. The Street Diet would not include any infrastructure work such as sewer repairs. I have no idea where Madison is on the list of sewer repairs.

j.oak park  

Posted: April 14th, 2012 5:12 PM

@ A resident. I think the tif fund has $7million left in it...the other $10 million come from where again? and that is a conservative estitimet, you never know what the real costs are until the project is done.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 14th, 2012 5:07 PM

Resident - Of the departments of OPV, I think that they the DPW is the best. I sure don't know why the neighborhood streets are in such disrepair particularly the curbs and alleys. I don't fault the DPW since there funds come through the village budget. A budget shortfall due to lower gas tax revenue seems very unlikely.


Posted: April 14th, 2012 12:04 PM

Do you hear that Kyle?

A Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: April 14th, 2012 10:05 AM

Please do not mix this project up with the needs of the rest of the roads in the Village. This project will be funded by the TIF which is created for infrastructure improvements for the underdeveloped business areas. Motor Fuel Taxes (MFT) and other funds are used to repair your normal potholes and every year street work. The Village staff is very good at stretching the local dollars to get the most out of preserving the roads. So don't bring up the, "my road is bad fix it first" argument--N/A.

MOP-Murtagh's Oak Park  

Posted: April 13th, 2012 12:46 PM

God speed to your sibling. Its a nice place to visit and retire.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 13th, 2012 12:29 PM

No retirement trip. No vacation. I'm in Ariz because my brother is in the hospital. You are a very compassionate fool.

MOP-Murtagh's Oak Park  

Posted: April 13th, 2012 11:32 AM

Murtagh in AZ. Thats where all retirees should spend their time complaining.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: April 13th, 2012 12:41 AM

JBM in ARIZ-SANDY,thanks for your kindness. OPRFDad, malfeasance is easy to observe,corruption is hard to prove. Agree with word choice. I want a Don't be a Brickhead bumper sticker. KYLE, Yes to audit that incl TIFs. Reforms failed because slates are an easy VMA target Yea Block Clubs! J-OAKPARK, specific issue are on the radar. PATRICIA O'SHEA, NOT running - there is no shortage of new board talent in OP. BRICK, politics is not a dirty word. SILLY, Hi Regards TO ALL!


Posted: April 10th, 2012 9:38 AM

@Brick I do know that East between Washington & the tracks near Lake is a pretty bad offender. South of Madison it's pretty decent to Jackson, at least.


Posted: April 10th, 2012 9:26 AM

Any old-timers in the Village remember block clubs? My understanding is that about 400 of the 500 blocks had one. It peaked in 1972 though. They weren't official, but had the full blessing of the Village & were used as a liaison between residents & govt & also were used as lobby organizations in addition to information flow & holding parties, etc.. I'd love to see that come back!  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 9:26 AM

Didnt they just repave South East ave?

Steve from North Berwyn  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 9:16 AM

All politics is local. The problem in Oak Park is that local means 123 Madison.


Posted: April 10th, 2012 9:05 AM

(cont) And whereas here we have the no-party, no-primary concept, everything is crazy. Where I loved you actually had party affiliation, but nobody really ran on anything controversial because no matter who was in charge they took care of business in a very lowkey way & honestly nobody really cared much because it was boring. Who wants to approve trash contracts & adjudicate noise complaints? lol


Posted: April 10th, 2012 9:05 AM

I esp recommend Sokol's book on OP: Evolution of a Village for the political side. There's a whole backstory of people going to VH w/handfuls of parking tickets they expect voided. Board meetings that couldn't get a quorum. Or that passed no legislation from the squabbles. At one point I believe the entire Board of Health resigned. Then again, there have been times when 3 full slates ran all w/different visions. I'm w/you though OPRF, the funny thing is I've lived elsewhere...


Posted: April 10th, 2012 8:56 AM

Kyle, what sorts of things are you finding from back in the day? I also lived in a city of exactly the same size as OP, and everything ran smoothly, and the presence of the city's mayor was nary felt except during an election. OP is an oddball combination of liberalism and the Chicago concept of patronage. A testament to the Village's character and positive attributes that it has lasted so long.


Posted: April 10th, 2012 8:53 AM

I'm currently reading a couple village histories & laughing at the descriptions of elections in 1919 or whenever & it's the same issues we've still not figured out in 2012. Reform has failed several times, correct? As someone who has lived elsewhere, I can tell you not every city our size has these issues. I'm wondering how much is just the culture here. It's funny to read about, but it makes me a little sad.


Posted: April 10th, 2012 8:49 AM

For once, Silly, you may have a point. Now, some people really are just complainers. But hidden in all this, too, is the fact that if the Village had better responsiveness to constituents, you could at least say "take it to VH, they'll fix it" so it'd be easier to question the motivation of complainers. Regardless of who wins an election, we still have a right to get our problems solved by the Village. Some of this is the lack of, say, a weekly open door office policy for airing the laundry.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:15 PM

It is one thing to be unhappy with some decisions. It another to be unhappy with ALL decisons. There are some who are unhappy with any and all decisions the Village makes. To those people I say: You can only beat a dead horse so much. At some point you have to count your loses and leave the table! If history proves it self again, the decisions down the road are probably going to be ones that you dont agree with. But hey, that's just me.

Happy Happy Joy Silly  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 5:47 PM

Next to you Silly, everyone is unhappy.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 5:16 PM

Patricia - no harm meant. I was joking. I't not really Silly's business who I support or who I vote for.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 5:03 PM

maybe a bit unhappy for 10 years? All his time here in OP?

Sandy Taupe  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 4:45 PM

John Murtagh is man with integrity, who admits when he is wrong and is not a single issue man. John is quick to praise the good of Oak Park, and takes the time to say nice things regarding many articles on Thanks to Mr. Murtagh who always stays classy and has never asked anyone who disagrees with him to move out of town.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 4:13 PM

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that John Murtagh would not love this characterization OPRF Dad. Plus, he's not running for anything per Marty's article on the topic and several posts here...


Posted: April 9th, 2012 3:18 PM

Please don't take my calling you Brickhead as a personal attack. Rather, that's my new name for anyone who supports the VMA. They will be addressed accordingly. John Butch Murtagh is the man known as Pope Slayer. He eats nails for breakfast and spits fire.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 3:10 PM

Who is John Butch Murtagh and stop calling me brickhead.  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 2:59 PM

Imagine that. All the same person talking to themselves. Priceless with fictitious information. Even better. Dont forget rebrickulous


Posted: April 9th, 2012 1:33 PM

Hi Patricia, I did not mean to imply that efforts were not still ongoing, just that this issue seems to be less hotly political and more a challenge of the idea, based on the idea itself. I suppose now would be a good time to say all politics are local, or maybe better geographical, with regard to development in Oak Park.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 1:28 PM

Silly, I'm going to support candidates who believes it's time for Oak Park to get back to basics. That's not's pro first things first.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 1:25 PM

On crickets....important to realize that we are still a year in advance. My goal is primarily to collect contact interested people at this point while the topic is hot. I've been responding to people who have emailed telling them that. I am open to ideas of what can be done right now though. Personally, I'm thinking I want to see how candidates shake out.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 1:06 PM

170 posts ago Ms. O'Shea posted the link to a sign up for, since then crickets. An idea that elicits response from the stakeholders(Kyle live between Madison and Washington)isn't always a political challenge as much as it is an challenge to the idea itself. That is unless you are a nervous sycophant who is certain the world is out to get them.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:48 PM

Brickhead, I plan to vote for John Butch Murtagh.  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:41 PM

FYI-The reason people lose elections is becasue of the Anti this and Anti that. Stand for something! Cant wait.  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:39 PM

OPRD DAD, thats original. Who will you be voting for. If you vote this time? Do you like to lose? I do have a nice garden. How is your roof?


Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:35 PM

Thanks to Sillylicious for the anti-Pope, anti-VMA ready-made slogan for 2013: Don't be a Brickhead. I can see it on bumper stickers and billboards now. OR would that upset the OP overlords?  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:27 PM

i would compare houses and locations. If I liked a home, I would buy it, even on a street with potholes. Before a couple of years ago, one of worse streets in Oak Park was the 400 block of Forest. FLW Forest! Pretty sure the million dollar values stayed put. I was surprised the neighbors didn't want to pay for pavers.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:22 PM

Would you buy a house on a street with chunks missing or would you prefer to have that $400,000 house have a decent road out front? (We won't even talk about the horrible state of the alleys in the back!)  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:11 PM

Potholes causing property values to decline. Thats a first. I guess the street has more value than the home! Wow


Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:08 PM

I don't think you understand how local govt works, Brick. The Board approves the budget & VM runs daily operations including PW. The VM is hired by the Board. We don't elect the VM (though we should) so you have to change the Board. Not having potholes on my street would improve property values for me and my neighbors, improve snow plowing so chunks of street don't come up, etc, etc. It's basic services of a local govt. The Village is here to write tickets for speeding, not build an ark. lol  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:08 PM

Trying to gather support for change of leadership on here is not hiding about being political. I've seen the promotion of an email to sign up with as well as websites to go to for further information. You cant get any more political than that. I am glad the VMA stays out of this garbage can and sticks to its respectable/classy self in our community. Everyone tries to hammer the VMA, yet they wont stoop to the lows of some on here.  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 12:00 PM

jokepark, are you saying its not political?  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:57 AM

How will your life change by knowing that? How will that be a better way to spend tax payers money? These are not board decisions. These are Village dept operating decisions. DPW's makes these calls.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:40 AM

Funny how many of the regular posters have stayed out of this discussion, but Silly AKA Bricklicious is still scramming the same ole thing about regulars positing and it all be "political". Heaven forbid people have their own ideas about a subject in OP and voice their opinion from the board's view. Well, isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?


Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:29 AM

Nobody (including me) has said there can't be a crack or two anywhere. All I ask is that the Village create & publish a schedule of weekly street cleaning, a plan that lets me know what year this decade my street will get paved, spend less on one area and more on the whole. It's simply not fair that Madison gets a $17 million makeover while one street south on Monroe they get cracked pavement. (Not my street, for the record, just being neighborly.)  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:27 AM

"We're disregarding our and our neighbor's collapsing roof to plant a garden." Pure opinion as to your description. I'd like to think its more like making the best decisions for each problem but prioritizing which problems get attention first. Have you read the survey about Oak Park and how satisfied people are? What exactly is Oak Parks" collapsing roof"?


Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:19 AM

But we're not disregarding our collapsing roof for our neighbor's collapsing roof. We're disregarding our and our neighbor's collapsing roof to plant a garden to rival that of Versailles, all while telling those who write the checks that we're just going to drop in a few bulbs. If you think this is merely a matter of disputes in priority, you're not paying attention. VMA needs to go, as does this form of government in favor of something accountable.  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:19 AM

"Political comment would be to say I think there should be an investigation and full audit of Village funds and those in charge thrown out." Only if we all can vote on it. LOL ;-)  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:13 AM

If you disregard your collapsing roof for your neighbors collapsing roof, what is that? If we couldnt justify ANY projects until all our streets are perfect, we wouldnt have any projects. Keep em coming. There will always be something on the table for improvement. Municipality 101. As to how and when they are approached cause people to disagree. Its only normal. Your interpretations are funny to say the least.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:02 AM

That's why we've changed to the word malfeasance, Brickhead. If I disregard my collapsing roof so that I can plant flowers in my front yard, that's sort of the definition of malfeasance.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 11:01 AM

Political comment would be to say I think there should be an investigation and full audit of Village funds and those in charge thrown out. ;-) I refuse to get into national issues on a local msg board, but I do think there is a pattern of discrimination at play here in our priorities. The truth is that certain areas of the Village are neglected in favor of others when all residents deserve to be treated fairly.  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 10:49 AM


Posted: April 9th, 2012 10:48 AM

I love it. Now the corruption word comes out. I suppose people who dont enjoy outer space or war should think our US govt is corrupt for spending lots of money on NASA or DOD? All of your allegations are are in relation to your opinions. Big difference. To say misuse of public funds and breach of public trust is certainly not correct. Just becasue you dont agree doesnt mean those other things occur. Nice try though. Not even close.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 10:30 AM

I agree with your general point - people blow money in this community on pet projects long before actual needs are ever satisfied (sign of our times, really, people can no longer differentiate between a want and a need). You just have to be careful in what you lable something. Peoples' hackles get up when you use the "C" word. I think we can suggest that this is malfeasance without people getting their knickers in a twist.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 10:22 AM

@OPRFDad, I take your point of clarity. It's not corruption, it's something along the lines of improper performance of duty. It's still a breach of public trust. Funds are being used to appease special interest rather than the general welfare of the Village. And funds aren't being spent equitably.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 10:13 AM

Kyle, it's not corruption, per se, but something bordering on malfeasance. I don't think the bumblers that run the Village are necessarily profiteering off of their ventures. Rather, I think they are incapable of, as you very aptly describe it, differentiating between a want and a need. They also live in a fairytale world where pretty streets are going to make up for OP's retail shortcomings, including excessive rent and a scattered retail base.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 9:59 AM

(cont) Things like $100,000 for public art when our roads are crumbling. Roads are just easy to point to. There's the sewers. There's the need for better police enforcement. The trash everywhere. Should money be shifted from "wants" to "needs?" Yes. The problem isn't's the focus on the business area while the residents get potholes, backed up sewers, etc. I haven't gone so far as to call it corruption like others have. But it is close. Borderline. Certainly misuse of tax dollars.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 9:59 AM

@Kyle, LOL. There are moments of enlightened thought here & there. @Brick I don't think the system works either the way you think it does or the way you think I think it does. It's not all about elections. Democracy also has a component of elected officials being responsible to constituents the rest of the time. No matter who is in office they still have to deal with the public. As for bricks/paving...I've pointed out before the waste in the OP budget. (cont)  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 9:45 AM

Kyle realizes the way the system is set up and wants to change it. I give credit for that. I dont agree, but give credit for at least recognizing reality and then approaching from that perspective.  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 9:42 AM

Its so old. Same people with same bickering. If anything, they marginalize the role the "elected" officials play.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 9:39 AM

"it gets mistaken for reasoned conversation." No chance for that.  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 9:34 AM

For some to come on here and complain about everything the "elected" board does is pathetic. The votes were cast, the votes were counted. Clearly is seems as if some people lost and take it out on the elected officials were they disagree with. That's Democracy people. Your chance will come again in 2013.As for me, I am happy with the decisions this board has taken to continue to make Oak Park a desirable place for me and my family to live and grow.  

Posted: April 9th, 2012 9:29 AM

Bricks in the business area is hardy a waste. Do people in Oak Park like smooth streets? I think so. Paving 10-20 miles a season as you have suggested. Unrealistic. Just becasue a project costs a certain amount doesn't always mean those funds could have gone to some non related project in Oak Park. We have beautiful brick paved streets that people really appreciate and we are continuing to improve streets through out Oak Park. Its healthy to have different opinions.Thats why people are elected


Posted: April 9th, 2012 8:48 AM

Only marginalizing those who can't produce a rational argument or who try to tell others their legit complaints shouldn't be voiced. I welcome well-reasoned arguments. Lay out facts. Cite data. Otherwise I do think it's ok to marginalize. Because if you don't, it gets mistaken for reasoned conversation.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 8:29 AM

I guess by marginalizing the people you disagree with as mindless nabobs, you fit in pretty well here.


Posted: April 9th, 2012 7:34 AM

It's my new nickname for the Silly/Bricklicious/"Oak-Park-is-awesome-don't-say-anything-bad" crowd. Oak Park is fluffy kittens, puppies, & rainbows. LOL


Posted: April 9th, 2012 7:10 AM

Kyle, why the "kittens" commentary? Are you channeling Tlo from project rungay? Should we look forward to some fashion commentary to go with your critiques of Oak Park Matters?


Posted: April 8th, 2012 10:22 PM

Not realistic, Kittens, or do we just have a group of leaders who'd rather waste our tax money on, say, bricks in the business district? Instead of getting everybody's street paved. You'd be surprised how much people like clean, smooth streets. What you're saying is that since all those other places have bad roads we only have to aim as low as them? lol  

Posted: April 8th, 2012 10:10 PM

Maybe Kyle could run on the street and curb platform. Your obsession is interesting. Have you driven in Forest Park, Berwyn, Cicero, Maywood, Bellwood,Chicago, or Elmwood Park? I guesss you think every street in Oak Park should be a brand new paved street? Not a realistic ideal.


Posted: April 8th, 2012 9:49 PM

OP Res, I take your point about perhaps cutting losses & getting new officials...I'm not sure it's better than nothing. I worry that much like the mess we're left with now from generations/leadership previous, we're burdening future Oak Park w/coming 10-20 years from now having to redo Madison. Plus the debt that could be spent on more pressing issues.


Posted: April 8th, 2012 9:42 PM

(cont) It sounds like what you're saying is that people should be content w/neglectful municipal services & not bother trying to correct that situation. We don't deserve to be consulted? Forget that other cities have better infrastructure, better function, we shouldn't learn from them. That's not how it works. We have a right to demand many things currently ignored.


Posted: April 8th, 2012 9:42 PM

Kittens, city streets tend to have a short lifespan & have been neglected here in Oak Park to the point where the system-wide rating was high-60's last yr. Works/Capital Improvements/2011/CIP_project_map.pdf It's not just my street. It's just about every street that is littered with potholes, debris in the gutter, cracking. Not smooth. But to your other point (cont)  

Posted: April 8th, 2012 5:30 PM

I'm saying that the bricks are not not driving people away. They create space and place and thats what people yearn for. If you pave it, they will come! Ha!! As for the board taking a poll on every issue, get real. The poll is the election and thats why they campaign and run. Get use to the system. Its been that way for many, many years. Like I said, dont reinvent the wheel.

OP Resident from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 8th, 2012 4:54 PM

Kyle - we're very much on the same page with the best way to approach Madison. Unfortunately our elected officials maintain a "our way or the highway" view on nearly everything in Oak Park. Our opinions are generally ignored and, frankly, I agree w/ opinions that this is already a done deal a la Comcast or pavers. So I'll take a flawed improvement over no improvement in this case and I'll do my part in electing people who make better choices when the opportunity comes around in 2013.


Posted: April 8th, 2012 4:44 PM

@Brickilicious/Silly, @10:17 - "The people in the stores and restaurants and the cars in the parking lot seems to be ok with something." As usual, and "unfortunately," your comments lack depth and sense. Are the readers supposed to believe that without the multi-million dollar "bricking," that the "stores and restaurants" were/would be empty? The question is was this project necessary and what ROI analysis was done to warrant it? For, as your friend says, "silly/stupid is what silly/stupid does.  

Posted: April 8th, 2012 3:43 PM

What does Oak Park pave now? 5 Miles a yr? Less? Thinking that we should pay for 10-20 miles of new pavement a year is crazy. Thats more than our entire perimeter every year. Not feasible. Kyle, what street do you live on that is so awful?


Posted: April 8th, 2012 2:39 PM

I have a diff take, OP Res. Where I used to live it was one thing to do this kind of treatment when we, say, buried the utility lines. It made sense as part of that project to just do it. I agree Madison needs help...but I question how much this actually helps. What I say is break the project up into smaller sections, do a little at a time & judge the benefits. Retool as needed rather than just make one big mistake all at once.

OP Resident  

Posted: April 8th, 2012 2:23 PM

Veronica - this area of Oak Park has been ignored and Madison allowed to become an eyesore. While I don't disagree that the rest of the village needs road improvements, Madison is hardly fine just the way it is. It's the poster child for what a TIF was developed for. The village is further blighting area with their pet Interfaith development. The very LEAST they could do in return is make some small token gesture showing they care about the area south of Washington.


Posted: April 8th, 2012 1:21 PM

I've said before...Oak Park could resurface back to smooth all 100 miles of streets in 5-10 yrs if that's what we want. I think most of us didn't move here because of Madison. Most of us moved here because we want quiet, peaceful streets. Keep traffic off of Jackson & Washington. Prove that greater tax revenue is going to follow after spending $17 million for glorified window dressing. I agree w/Veronica...quit treating some parts of Oak Park differently. This project is a misuse to benefit few.  

Posted: April 8th, 2012 8:57 AM

I say continue to fix and upgrade our streets and alleys as we have and fix whats going to bring in tax $$ first. Every thing has a heart and the heart is what makes the whole operate. Unfortunately not everyone can live in the heart of Oak Park. We repave, micro surface and do complete overhauls with sewers and water. You can only do so much a year/season at a time. Political comments as usual.

Veronica from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 10:19 PM

Why would the Village waste so much money on Madison when we need to repair residential streets and alleys. According to the Village their budget for streets and alleys is so small, it may take 15 years to repair all the pot holes throughout Oak Park. Let's use this money to benefit all of us taxpayers. Madison is just fine the way it is!  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 10:17 PM

The people in the stores and restaurants and the cars in the parking lot seems to be ok with something. Keep trying.


Posted: April 7th, 2012 10:02 PM

There is a tipping point for traffic though. When it drives customers away, causes anger & frustration, and is inconvenient to the neighborhood, makes the neighborhood less safe, etc. etc. How many people skip shopping on Marion b/c we didn't find the right balance between looks & good engineering? I'm not pessimistic, just pragmatic. My point is that it isn't all great. There is collateral damange & that's what worries me about the Madison project. Unintended consequences.  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 8:03 PM

Traffic is a good thing. More people want to be there for some reason. People watching is the best. More cars just proves my point. I personally go that route too because its so beautiful. Good design attracts more people. If its too busy for you, try another route. Are you always this pessimistic?


Posted: April 7th, 2012 5:48 PM

Yes, Kittens, we just came from there, too. Beautiful design until you try to park on Marion & realize that traffic backs up across Lake St. Or that pedestrians are crossing every which way...nearly getting hit because the cars are busy avoiding the ones parking and the crosswalks all blend into the pavement and are unmarked. Not to mention that you'll never see an Oak Park cop write a ticket for failing to stop at a crosswalk because they roll through them, too. LOL  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 3:01 PM

Walked down Marion again today. Beautiful day.....Beautiful street and sidewalk. When you build and design nice things, people tend to gather and have a sense of place. Keep up the good work Oak Park.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 1:02 PM

@JBMurtagh ... again history repeats itself. The proposed $43M DTOP streetscape plan has little resemblance to the scope and content of the current 2005 DTOP Master Plan, even though Pope misrepresented as being the same. The 2005 Plan doesn't recommend brick streets or bluestone walks, nor streetscaping from Harlem to Euclid. Pope & consultants somehow change approved plans outside the public and board purview, into their own expensive portfolio projects.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 10:14 PM

Consultant contracts have cost Oak Park taxpayers millions of dollars. Without an open and competitive bidding process for these expert services, it is not surprising that some consider these deals an example of white collar patronage.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 7:52 PM

THE ROAD DIET FIASCO - At a Nov. 22, 2010, the board gave approval to Altamunu, Inc. for the design of STREETSCAPE'ing scenarios for Madison St in an amount not to exceed $100,000. With President Pope absent, the board voted 4-2 to approve the project. Trustee Hedges voted No stating he wanted additional information on the return on investment. Trustee Hale voted No because he felt the village needed a better overall plan before committing funds to STREETSCAPING. In early Dec., 2010, a committee was formed composed of Madison Ave Coalition members and village staff. There were 19 members on the committee -7 village employees, 3 business representatives, one each Park and Rec, Oak Park Housing, Oak Park Community Development, D97, two consultants, and 3 residents. One year later, the committee presented its recommendation - a STREETSCAPE and a Road Diet. In October 2010 the board had approved a "Complete Street" concept for Oak Park which included recommendations for bike lanes, etc. Seemingly, Altamunu, Inc.saw that as an opportunity to expand the November 22, 2010 approval by the board. Who knows, someone from the village might have said, "Heck, do a Street Diet Plan while you designing the streetscape." Now if I asked a contractor for an idea on kitchen refurbishment (fee of $500 for the plan) and he came back with a recommendation to install an escalator, I would tell him to leave the drawings and give me back $250 for the work I never requested. That is; unless he told me that my wife had called him and told him to add an escalator to the plan and, he had forgotten to let me know. In that case, I'd throw his butt out the door and sue him.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 6:29 PM

The beauty of it is that unlike D97, where there's a Roberts cult of personality, no similar nonsense exists for Pope. Run a marginally competent candidate, get word out about his lack of fiscal restraint, and getting him booted will be pretty easy. Someone who offers anything resembling a plan will be head and shoulders above Pope. And that goes for the rest of the VMA as well.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 5:10 PM

@JBMurtagh: the comparison with the DTOP TIF makes sense, as history is repeating itself with the Madison TIF. While Pope is insisting that any board discussion be a vision quest, unfettered by constraints of available resources, the fact is the Madison TIF is ending without any certainty to remaining funds. While CFO Lesner stated $7.6M remains, the last TIF annual report was in 2009. In 2010, Pope the DTOP TIF into the ground, and D200 sued. He's in his sand box again.

OP Resident  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 4:35 PM

Keep telling yourself that, Brick. Will make it much easier to change things up in 2013 if VMA continues to believe that the Kool Aid is working and the masses remain docile and complacent.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 4:29 PM

By the way, the answer to your question on when an election gets started a year early. It was 2005. That was the year that five candidates without VMA support got elected.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 4:26 PM

Hey - stop hitting on my neighborhood by calling it a Ghost Town. That's a little bit uppitty on you part, Isn't it Brick?

A Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 4:12 PM

I ask again: Who doesn't believe this project would help businesses on Madison? Who doesn't believe this would make Madison safer for pedestrians and bicyclists (who are more likely residents or kids going to Julian or Brooks)? This is what a TIF is for, to help those under-developed areas that need improvements for projects such as infrastructure. This will not only help the businesses but the adjacent property owners. Who wants to live next to a ghost town section of the Village?  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 3:37 PM

I'll repeat......The complainers are a small small few. Always have been, always will be. You can thank the WJ( Marty) for giving you fuel to show your love for this community. When was the last time the WJ wrote a piece about an election this far back? If those 27,000 people were so unhappy, they would come out and vote. The unhappy are always the loudest, as clearly seen here.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 3:31 PM

Thanks, j. You know I don't usually get personal & prefer to keep it on-point. But the truth is we need to hear everybody. I even want to hear the VMA supporters. I meant what I said about arguments should stand or not on the merits. I agree w/you that usually it's best to ignore what isn't substantive. But I also would hate to think someone DOESN'T speak up because they're afraid of being shouted down. Free speech is a beautiful thing. Yes, even for Kittens.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 3:21 PM

@Kyle, thanks for all of your comments on this page. Just a warning: Brick, AKA Kittens(I like that BTW) is also "Silly" and "Laughing" and the VMA's most ardent supporter. Many have elected to simply ignore her comments, as most of them make little sense and certainly add no value to the discussion.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 3:06 PM

In OP, you'd do better to watch your feet than your head. It's not the sky falling that will get you, it's the potholes & flooded sewers. ;-)  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 3:03 PM

......oh yea, and another one: The sky is falling!


Posted: April 6th, 2012 3:01 PM

I'll let that (non) answer stand on its own as the powerful, thoughtful evidence I needed. Thanks, Kittens!  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:57 PM

No need to reinvent the wheel.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:49 PM

I'm going to start calling you "kittens," Brick. Give you a fluffy kitten & everything is right with the world. lol You assume the majority who don't bother to vote is approval of current methods? Hmm...what if it's being so sick of the BS that they'd prefer to not take part? I actually ENCOURAGE supporters to step up. If there are so many of you, DEFEND your position. Give me a rational argument. Convince me! Logic wins the day when it comes to my vote. Tell me why Brick City is the way to go?  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:45 PM

The complainers are a small small few. Always have been, always will be. You can thank the WJ( Marty) for giving you fuel to show your love for this community. When was the last time the WJ wrote a piece about an election this far back? If those 27,000 people were so unhappy, they would come out and vote. The unhappy are always the loudest, as clearly seen here.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:32 PM

Logical fallacy, Brick. You can't assume silence is one way or the other. And even among voters you have 7,000 who cast a ballot for the top vote-getter and 27,000 non-voters. I find it interesting your view of criticism...if you & others (*cough* Village Hall) would pay attention to what people are complaining about maybe it really WOULD be a great place to work & live & not just someone claiming rainbows & puppies in the face of real, actual, very serious issues.  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:19 PM

At least we vote. :-)  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:18 PM

After reading all these crazy comments,one must wonder how Oak Park became such a great place to work and live. Ever notice how most of the commenters are the few in this community that bicker about everything and anything and the residents that are pleased just disregard the comments all together? Its too bad that the majority of people who are satisfied with how things are dont chime in. Ha.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 2:06 PM

Kyle - we are on the same page. The challenge is to get the information that is being collected out to the public in an understandable manner. Sharing information with others who are interested and willing to listen is the starting point. Send some of the info to friends that care.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 1:47 PM

That was why I asked is I'm assuming if I am trying to wrap my head around it, other citizens have questions, too. I'd put it this way...the form of government isn't the problem though it makes it more susceptible. Good people with good focus could do wonders for clearing the air.

John Murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 1:41 PM

Nice piece of research, Muntz -- very powerful. I am adding another quote from the Chicago Times article. Scott Harrington of Vandewalle and Associates, architectural designer, stated after the meeting that he was, "Was a little surprised at the drubbing the proposal took. But it showed that residents and business owners feel strongly about having enough convenient parking and the ability to drive through the area without getting into a traffic jam."

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 1:34 PM

I agree completely with his Enuf's assessment of the Madison project. The Madison TIF is similar, if not identical, to the political manipulations, poor planning, and slow development as the Greater Downtown Oak Park Development. The remediation agreement from the 2011 lawsuit between the village and the school districts contains a statement that explains a lot about all of OP TIF. It states, "An acknowledgment that the Downtown TIF's performance and current finances have been impacted by unmet assumptions and economic circumstances not contemplated in the intergovernmental agreement from 2003." The resolution/ordinance approval of the Greater Downtown Plan in 2005, contained no, or minimal information, on project costs or anticipated revenue. From the start, the project was in trouble. The village was in debt, had a negative fund balance, and the housing bust was universally known as a event that was overdue. In the master plan from the architect, the resolution to the board, the resulting ordinance, or the extensive discussion of the plan on 3/21/2005, there was no detailed projections about revenue required or costs anticipated to the TIF, the village, the taxpayers, or the business owners. Two board members commented that they were concerned about the lack of community member input. Thirteen citizens expressed their viewpoints during the public comment portion of the meeting - nine were opposed to the project, three urged a tabling to allow time to get answers to open questions, and one voted Yes (a representative from the Taxman Corp, a developer with vested interest in the project.) I don't see the entire fiasco as a failure of Oak Park's form of government. It is a failure of due diligence and transparency. To this day, very few Oak Parkers have any insight into the decades of TIF or its successes or failure. I believe that these were mistakes of people, not the mistakes or our form of government.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 12:43 PM

The more things change (circa 2006)... "Likewise, a boulevard road configuration that emphasized landscaping while still maintaining four lanes of traffic earned support...But a proposal to eliminate one lane of traffic or on-street parking to make way for a bike lane was trounced."


Posted: April 6th, 2012 12:10 PM

Thanks, Muntz. The idea of Harlem/Madison as a "gateway" just makes me chuckle. The problem isn't's that the corner has a Wendy's & currency exchange (to say nothing of Forest Park's liquor store & empty parking lot).


Posted: April 6th, 2012 11:52 AM

Here's the proposal to "unify the corridor" back in 2004. I'm guessing these were envisioned to be around much longer than 10 years... Madison Street Landscaping Presentation.pdf


Posted: April 6th, 2012 10:02 AM

@Enuf Like I've said, I'm new-ish here so I'm trying to get used to the crazy ways. We didn't use TIFs where I'm from. lol Can someone explain the public process you speak of? I only see back to 1999 on the VOP site. Aren't TIFs supposed to be paid in tax gains from the newly redeveloped area? Call me a TIF critic (maybe), but aren't we talking indirect gains here? You can redo the street but there's no promise of refurb beyond that...not to mention our shady track record w/approving projects.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 9:17 AM

The vision for the Madison TIF was required to be documented in the form of a TIF Redevelopment Plan at the onset of the TIF in 1995, along with est. costs. Any revisions to this plan were to be accomplished via a public process years ago. Pope is now introducing a $17.3M Alice-In-Wonderland new vision in 2012, just prior to the TIF expiration, one that exceeds the remaining $7.6M TIF balance. The time for envisioning was 17 years ago, the time for budgetary reality is now.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 9:12 AM

I agree, OPRFDad. If we were a city of half a million, it'd be different to sit here & say we've elected people to make wide-ranging policy decisions. @Be Careful Even if the voters make bad decisions, I still trust them more than power resting in the hands of a few officials. If I'm going to be governed badly, I prefer it come from my peers. The will of the voter is/should be more powerful than the will of a suit.


Posted: April 6th, 2012 8:16 AM

The power structure in OP is inverse and ideal for avoiding responsibility. There should be a single elected and accountable individual taking direction from an advisory board. Instead, we have diffusion of responsibility over multiple elected officials and an appointed individual implementing decisions. It's ideal, if you want to create a long-term power structure that isn't accountable.

Be Careful  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 9:54 PM

Last election results: Ray Johnson-7,028.Bob Tucker-6,687.Adam Salzman-5,691. and the losers: Lyn Kesseen-4,852 ans Louis Carmichael-2,113. There are your vote totals Kyle


Posted: April 5th, 2012 8:27 PM

I'm usually with you, John. But we're gonna disagree on this one, how rare! Even if the vote is 2001 to 1999, it still places the burden on voters where it belongs, not on Trustees. Also, assuming people are tight w/money it places a high bar for spending. Though I will add a caveat by saying I think emergency "right now" issues need wide Board leeway.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 8:18 PM

Kyle - Referendums have value, but it requires an active community that stays on top of issues. Referendums do not serve a community well when you have an historically low voter involvement -- OP has had a turnout of less than 20% in its last two election.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:40 PM

On major spending issues, optional large projects like this, & the overall priorities of the community. It's pretty simple to make a case to voters if you really believe that's where our time/money/energy should be spent. Shall the Village spend x dollars on the Madison Streetscape? Yes or no. Some municipalities also request their voters to prioritize a list or suggest in the voting booth percentages of the budget that should go towards various areas. It'd be a heck of a lot more democratic.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:39 PM

IMO, that's why the buck stops w/Trustees. I don't get personal like others do b/c I don't believe in that. But I do believe that ultimate responsibility rests there. I don't blame the employees. All of this has a simple solution for me. The Board should stick to essential services level running of the Village. Then they, as a govt body have the power to put advisory questions of public policy on the ballot.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:07 PM

Kyle - you captured a significant village problem. The village hires talented, intelligent employees who are capable of making recommendation and decision, and then question them like they are children, point them in directions they do not agree with, and distain them when they do not support the board's viewpoints. Employees are not dumb, they know that ultimately they work for the board, and 97% of the board members have been selected by the VMA since 1952. They become aware that bucking the board is dangerous if you want to keep your job and/or advance your career. You know you report the village manager but are savvy enough to know that village managers disappear when they don't toe the line. Therefore, employees acquiesce. They make "board" agreeable decisions. Report are skewed toward easy approval. They avoid controversy. During the first five decades of the VMA, board membership was a civic service and it was recognized that the board's role was policy and the day to day work was up to the village manager. In 2000, President Trapani began to treat her position as being in charge of all elements of the village; including day to day operations. President Pope took the same path. There actions have had a negative impact on village governance.

Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 6:28 PM

Madison needs improvements, but making the auto traffic worse will not help anyone. I hope that the Trustees understand that slowing down traffic will not force people to bike and walk--or shop at nonexistent stores. OP has become horribly congested, and I've seen it get steadily worse each year for 20 years. Walking, biking and driving, even in the side streets, is nerve racking during rush hours and school dismissals.Don't make it worse.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 3:17 PM

Re: Consultants...maybe that's part of the overall problem is maybe info-flow in local government should be bottom up? I know, John, we can talk all day about the Trustee form, etc., but in the end shouldn't the decisions made have no downside? IMO decisions of larger policy need to come from voters, not elected officials. Elected officials should stick w/ "do task" style governance that offends no one b/c it HAS to be done. Trash collection, paving, the boring stuff. We have far too much fluff.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 2:49 PM

Hi Brian - No, after posting for over a year I have reached the point that I don't determine which posts I read or reply by names. Outside of yourself and a couple of other people, I haven't met the posters or know much about them. For instance; I do not know or have met Jim Coughlin. If I am at a bar and get into a conversation with three of four people who introduce themselves as Pete, Mary, and Carl, I do not know much about them but still enjoy the conversation. We are not legislating on the WJ Comments, we are just conversing. Identify is irrelevent.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 2:39 PM

OPRF Dad - I agree totally with your post. In business, I worked, at different times, as a consultant and in a decision making capacity. The jobs are night and day. The consultant targets at specific projects and outcomes. Consultants moderate their views with new information, but not at the expense of the core advocacy. A decision maker has to understand all aspects of any project, some unknown to the consultant. He is the risk taker so has to judge the merits of a project from both the upside and the downside. I think David's approach as village president has lacked the clarity or transparence that is needed for high quality decision making. He only see "upside". He has not included the broader impact risk impact that a decision maker must consider. When his dream project falters, David shifts his approach to a project, but the advocacy does not change. The board badly needs more decision making skills and less passionate, but badly planned, advocacies.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 2:22 PM

To Big John Butch Murtagh: If a poster uses their own name, does that carry more credibility with you? Just wondering.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 1:48 PM

Murtagh's Oak Park: We should feel so lucky.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 1:42 PM

Dan's comments on pseudonyms have been going on since the WJ Comments were born. 75% of commenters use pseudonyms for a lot of reasons -- all their own. Those flogging pseudonyms have their right to dislike the other's choice of anonymity, but do not have the right to set rules. OP Comments offer the choice of participating in a wide ranging community discussion without constraint. Relax and enjoy.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 12:47 PM

I live in the block between Madison & Washington, EAH. And there are correctable problems with both. But they are more cheaply/easily addressed than this. If you want to slow traffic then lower the speed limit & enforce it. If you want bike lanes, put in bike lanes. If you want it safer for seniors and kids, put in better crosswalks and enforce it. To be honest, when we leave the house the decision of which to use depends a lot on walking/driving & destination. Biking? Prob side streets.

EAH from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 12:27 PM

I'm probably the only one of y'all who actually LIVES on Madison Street. I for one would welcome less traffic... because I swear living on Madison I have to dust every other day. It's nuts. I think more stoplights along Madison... along with no left turn off of Scoville would be a good start. There's a terrible accident there at least bi-annually. But I do not want to live through eons of construction simply to perform a facelift on what is essentially a highway.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 11:56 AM

@Teresa, here's the problem w/trying to make the medicine go down easier by explaining that there are coat tail benefits hidden inside the "package." Why not focus on the issue of redevelopment whether we want new or fixing up what's there, for instance, as part of the MAIN proposal? You can't block the main theme of redevelopment on Madison behind the ridiculous concept of slowing traffic for seniors. That's cart before the horse.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 11:43 AM

Some of the "alternate" recommendations presented below are actually part of the proposed changes to Madison Street. If you haven't actually watched the discussion but have relied on the newspaper summary, you may find the actual presentation helpful. No decision was made at this meeting, and the Board asked for more information. Here's the link: Click on the agenda topic to review it.

I wonder  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 11:23 AM

I wonder if it is a good idea to be a local, well forest park, business guy calling potential customers "cowards". Honestly, the things you can find using google is amazing. I am not a public figure,or elected official, so I don't need a public display of my name to convey my opinions.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 11:06 AM

FP's Madison is equivalent to OP's Oak Park Ave, or DTOP Lake St. Set backs and actaul distance between buildings across the street from one another. If we compare FP Madison to Oak Park Madison we must not forget the Pedestrian DEATHS FP has had. I know of 2. Oak Park as far as I remember has 0.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 10:54 AM

Narrowing Madison will probably divert more E-W traffic to Washington and Jackson. I would also suggest dedicated right hand turn lanes at major intersections to improve flow. Unlike Madison in FP, buildings are separated by 7 lanes of concrete. So creating an intimate corridor will be difficult with how far the buildings are setback. Is it really desirable to bike down major streets instead of side streets? Why bike down Madison/Division when Randolph/Berkshire are much more pleasant?


Posted: April 5th, 2012 10:23 AM

@Dan Look at OPRFDad & me...we agree on a lot. We disagree on a lot. I don't care who he is. I'm sure he doesn't care who I am. I'm more interested in hearing intelligent points of view regardless of who says them. To your point, OPRFDad, I've tried to say before what "type" that is but I can't quite name it. It's sort of the way things can get jargon-y w/o really saying anything. It sort of has a used car salesman quality. lol Or maybe game show host?


Posted: April 5th, 2012 10:09 AM

Wasn't David Pope a consultant before ruining the Village? My experience with consultants is that they can be used as proxy for leadership, but their use tends to result in poor decisionmaking. There's no substitute for true leadership and vision.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 10:07 AM

sorry, meant for Dan - to clarify, he's not my dad.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 10:07 AM

Dad, I understand where you are coming from, but the anonymity allows people to speak freely, especially in a Village like Oak Park. My wife and I are no longer acquainted with certain people because they shunned us after we opposed the D97 referendum. Cost of doing business in a place like OP, I suppose, but the anonymity of the board allows people to speak freely and share their opinions without social reprecussion. Religion and politics, as they say ...


Posted: April 5th, 2012 9:51 AM

@Dan I believe a few people had a chat about this awhile back. Welcome to the internet. I agree that many people say ignorant things behind the anonymous protection of the web...things you wouldn't say to somebody's face if they were standing next to you. But the flip is that using your real name opens you to harassment, stalking, the crazies, etc.. My policy is it's self-evident who is having real discussion & who isn't. No big deal.

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 9:44 AM

With few exceptions most posters hide behind their screen names. If you do not have the fortitude to sign your own name, then kindly do not post. In my opinion the 'screen name" posters are cowards.


Posted: April 5th, 2012 8:31 AM

Last night I ran into a neighbor while we were walking our dogs. He was telling me the story of almost getting hit by a turning car while crossing Madison down the block from us. I said, "well, what do you think about what they want to do with Madison?" He had no clue what I meant. Lots of people don't pay attention until the construction starts then scratch their heads wondering how it happened? Tell your friends, tell your neighbors!


Posted: April 5th, 2012 8:27 AM

Comparing Madison OP to Madison Forest Park is apples/oranges. Forest Park is a high-density commercial district that, even when "fixed" Madison will never be like that here. I would fully support using the TIF to go straight to actual improvement of the quality of Madison behind the curbs. This is putting a pig in a dress. Is Brick City safer for pedestrians? Not really. To go with the engineering you need enforcement. Where are the cops writing tickets?

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 7:13 AM

What is safe,safer and safest for pedestrian and bicycle traffic? Will the consultant dig up the stats on fatal accidents,and accidents on Madison St. If the road diet works in Forest Park shouldnt Oak Park open the area to bars?

Road Diet? Seriously? from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 6:21 AM

The reasons cited for people not shopping on Madison Street are absurd. I don't shop there because there's nothing to shop for there. A road diet won't make me shop at that Jewel. Or buy KFC, Popeye's, McDonald's. I can't recall the last time I bought anything there...because there are few or no establishments that have anything that I need. I don't need Madison "to be part of my neighborhood," but I do need it to be something other than Austin West. Bike lanes? Whatever. Irrelevant.

Board "Objectivity" from OP  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 6:13 AM

I'm amazed at the number of consultants that are hired by the Board, and what odd advice they seem to provide. But, perhaps that tells us a lot about "The Pope Model" of business: hire a "consultant" to make up reasons that something should be done (that no one but Pope thinks is a good idea), then give them a multi-million $ contract to do said work when Pope forces his ill-convceived pip dream down the Board's throat. Nice objectivity. Let's fire Pope as soon as possible. And then the rest.

Board of Pinheads from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 5:53 AM

To the Village Board: I don't care what you do (and you apparently don't care about anyone else's opinion either). You seem determined to spend tax money frivolously with no coherent plan or informed vision. Really? A housing project adjacent to bike lanes and a struggling retail strip where you won't approve chains? I can no longer waste my time hearing how abusive you are to taxpayers. I will shop elsewhere and I will vote you out of office (and encourage others to do the same). Pinheads

Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 12:43 AM

Who doesn't believe this project would help businesses on Madison? Who doesn't believe this would make Madison safer for pedestrians and bicyclists (who are more likely residents or kids going to Julian or Brooks)? This is what a TIF is for, to help those under-developed areas that need improvements for projects such as infrastructure. This will not only help the businesses but the adjacent property owners. Who wants to live next to a ghost town section of the Village?

Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 12:32 AM

If Madison is such a artery for traffic, why does Forest Park diet it down and be a pedestrian friendly area? It has many road diet attributes and is quite successful. Plus, it does not take 20 minutes to go from Austin to Harlem. If I were a business on Madison, I would be screaming for this improvement. Six lanes of pavement out your front door invites no-one.

Rich Schurr from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 11:57 PM

While we're at it let's cut the number of beds in the local hospitals so we can have fewer sick people. Sometimes when I read about what OP is doing I think I must be reading the Onion. It is amazing what people will come up with when they are spending other people's money.


Posted: April 4th, 2012 11:18 PM

Can you eat while riding your bike?

Enough already  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 8:02 PM

Hey enuf, Thats what you do with TIF dollars-Invest them. DOH

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 7:49 PM

cont. .... spending begets more spending. The board mindset for the past decade has exhibited addictive behavior re. TIF spending. Now that TIFs are ending, some board members have become 'TIF simple'. New trustees should heed the words of the Continental Op in Red Harvest; "If I don't get away soon I'll be going blood simple like the natives. I've arranged a killing or two in my time, when they were necessary. But this is the first time I've ever got the fever"


Posted: April 4th, 2012 7:29 PM

@22" Rims, you think the jewel is bad...wait till the aldi opens

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 7:21 PM

The term 'blood simple' from the Dashiell Hammett novel 'Red Harvest' (1929) is a term used to describe the addled, fearful mindset of people when surrounded by murder, until murder itself becomes in one's mind a viable solution to practically any problem. Life becomes cheap, killing begets more killing. In much the same way, Pope is 'TIF simple', as TIF spending has become in his mind a viable solution to any problem. TIF funds become cheap, spending begets m

Russ from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 6:18 PM

Narrowing Madison makes no sense. It is a major thru street. I pretty much only use it if i need to quickly get from one end of the village to the other. Madison will never be a pedestrian friendly street. That money could be used else where.

22" Rims  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 6:11 PM

This may not be a bad idea considering most of the pass through riff raff traffic comes through on Madison. Ever shop at the Oak Park Jewel?

Paddy Boy  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 3:58 PM

Did I read a suggestion or two within these fine comments that the village trustees may, from time to time, consider the thoughts and opinions of citizen taxpayers? hah! It's not our money anyway right? I always thought it belonged to the elected officials.


Posted: April 4th, 2012 3:55 PM

@OPRFDad Thanks for picking up what I was saying. It's a frustrating paradox that we all want to complain, but let's see how many people actually are circulating petitions to get on the ballot come fall. Voters want choices though. How can we encourage people to step up?


Posted: April 4th, 2012 3:19 PM

Kyle, why do you think the Board is populate with the likes of Lueck and Johnson? Anyone with a lick of sense and talent won't touch the job with a 10 foot pole. It's not that the issues in OP can't be addressed. Rather, you have to waste your time in meetings with these parasites enduring their inane ideas and stroking everyone who spoke before you before making a point. It's the same passive aggressive nonsense that drives people away from church and other civic involvement.

Paddy Boy  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 3:09 PM

Lads, let's apply a bit of logic. Madison Ave is one of the main streets in a large metro area. It's mean for transportation, cars, trucks, people, goods, and need I say, beer trucks, etc. There's other good spots for the bike people, such as Seattle and Toronto. Get a two seater and take that Pope fella with you. Keep the four lanes for good luck at least, as in four leaf clover.


Posted: April 4th, 2012 3:05 PM

@Kyle, ever notice that "Semi Lucid" Lueck, as i call her, is always eating at the board meetings? We should pass an ordinance that board members can't be shoving food in their pie holes while at the board table.


Posted: April 4th, 2012 2:58 PM

I'd love to see a survey of the 34,000 registered voters in Oak Park & see if this project was on anybody's Top Ten Things The Village Needs To Worry About. Maybe eating while driving will make a few lists, Echoes?

Echoes of Colette from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 2:35 PM

Kyle - let's draft legislation making illegal to eat while driving. That seems relevant and timely, right?


Posted: April 4th, 2012 2:24 PM

Here's my $17 million question...who in their right mind wants to inherit this mess when trying to provide sensible leadership? That's why we get the same old you-know-what. Anybody want to volunteer to fix all this? I'm not sure you could pay me enough. IF we do manage to change leadership I hope everyone cuts them some slack given what needs undone.

MichaelO from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 2:14 PM

Let's make a deal with the state: let them fix the Eisenhower without more pie-in-the-sky meddling by the board and we cap Madison. And maybe add some skateboard lanes.


Posted: April 4th, 2012 2:13 PM

Anyone wanna pay above market for a house right in the heart of this mess? I want out but can't afford to take the loss that it would take to do it.


Posted: April 4th, 2012 1:57 PM

So let's take stock of plans for Madison: make it narrower to slow traffic, add a large low income housing building, and add an Aldi. You don't have to be Madam Zora to read these tea leaves. The future doesn't look too bright for Madison. On the positive side, if it gets bad enough, maybe it will kill all the successful business in Forest Park. "If you can't beat 'em, ruin it for 'em," as David Pope likes to say. Pope's dream of extending Austin through Oak Park will be realized.


Posted: April 4th, 2012 1:40 PM

Jamal is Silly, just plain Silly. That said, Jamal's racism perfectly qualifies him for (1) the OP Village Board, or (2) head of D200.

You're off target Jamal  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 1:32 PM

Not sure if Jamal's comment is racist while it is uninformed. He said it is meant to benefit "the privileged white of our community" meaning it does not benefit unprivileged whites either, not just the "unprivileged non-whites" he implies. Either way, achievement gap jargon is school district business. You got the wrong taxing body bro. I do think it's a horrible idea either way.

Really? from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 1:16 PM

Just Saying: Nicely done. Jamal, find something else to do.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 12:33 PM

The Madison TIF was initiated in 1995. Some work was done early like the center median and a lot of consultant plans and drawing. Most of the effort was in conceptional madness while the business were declining, disappearing, the property bought by the village became eyesores. After 16 years and with the TIF expiring, the board decided it had to do something spectacular to prove that something was actually done. The consultants said Road Diet, and a way to use a $650,000 government and everyone jumped on board without a meaningful traffic or business study, and is ready to declare worth taking a $10M loan to do it. Of course there is no ROI on the project. Return on Investment is a business term. It does not apply to OP.

Just Saying  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 12:32 PM

Wow. That didn't take long. Now please remove Jamal's racist comment.

Just Saying  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 12:30 PM

Jamal, I'm upset about your racist comment "This proposed bike path is a ridiculous waste of money meant to benefit only the privileged whites of our community that can afford bikes." Would you be upset and call me a racist if I said that the proposed bike lane would mean more bikes to steal?

Beth Puccinelli from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 12:03 PM

Give me a break! Yet another hair brained STUPID idea! Lets re-do Fox center AGAIN and Longfellow Center AGAIN And all the others! Just quit it! Give us our tax money back and stop coming up with your idiot ways to rip us off more next year! You might want to take a look at some of the streets and bridges around here. Start doing something that matters.

Serf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 11:56 AM

I once commuted by bike from DTOP each way to Westmont without the need of such a bike lane in all types of weather. I often used residential streets instead of OP Ave for my safety and to minimize my impact on traffic. This is just another romantic idea (e.g. Lake St pedestrian mall!) by this generation of unreasonable elitists who keep getting elected to the OP board. I've long given up hope of OP election change, so I'm looking to vote with my feet.

Don from oak park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 11:24 AM

jamal is write, why r they tryin to gentrify madison st just like lake st????

Really? from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 11:19 AM

Jamal: Really?


Posted: April 4th, 2012 11:18 AM

I agree with Jamal

OPRF Mom from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 11:17 AM

This is a horrible idea. We reside on the block where the new Walgreen's is and the cut-through traffic is out of control. The traffic on Jackson Blvd. is also horrendous during rush hour; they need to leave Madison Street alone.

Jamal from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 11:06 AM

This proposed bike path is a ridiculous waste of money meant to benefit only the privileged whites of our community that can afford bikes. Why can't the money be spent on important things like the achievement gap?

Epic Putz  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 10:53 AM

Where was the talk of ROI when the Board was "debating" allowing the construction of a low income housing project in the Madison "Business District"?

Karen from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 10:43 AM

Just say no...if you live in Oak Park, contact the trustees with your opinion. I'm tired of taking 20 minutes to get from one end of OP to the other...then getting all the way downtown in about 7 minutes. Can we please leave some thoroghfares that are intended to MOVE traffic through the Village??

Dan Hurt from Forest Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 10:13 AM

Of course they don't need 4 lanes on Madison St. any more..... They have run all the businesses out of town it is obvious there is much less traffic indeed!!To those of you left in town- keep paying those taxes compliments of the idiots running Oak Park......every one on the board has no idea what they are doing....they should be ashamed of themselves !!They are under the assumption that they are there to come up with ideas on how best to spend more money. I am so glad I am out of there.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 9:56 AM

This is what is referred to as a 'portfolio' project. Meaning, it was not initiated in response to any citizen demand or village function, but simply exists to serve the personal interests (portfolio) of Pope and his consultants. As usual, the concept was conceived by Pope, who then had staff hire consultants who are paid to support the project, their fee based on project size. Same as DTOP, Pope's outsized ego has exceeded TIF funding limits, requiring more village debt.

J. Pickett from Hanover Park , Ill.  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 9:25 AM

I lived in Oak Park for 10 years, and grew up in Austin. I moved to Oak Park to continue for my children the kind of neighborhood environment I grew up in. I was there when the malled Lake street. The Village has a habit of wasting money on projects that are poorly thought out and are fashionable. I moved out partially because of taxes. And waste thereof. Riding a bike on the quiet side streets of OP was a pleasure and would get u where u wanted to go. Why inconvenience others for another sill


Posted: April 4th, 2012 9:13 AM

Enuf, I'll play devil's advocate the current sitting officials, isn't this their prerogative to chase rainbows & play w/our monopoly money? No, you say? Then people need to continue to speak out and then vote in the spring. If this isn't where we want our focus to be, let's correct the situation.


Posted: April 4th, 2012 9:11 AM

After watching the board presentation I am in favor of doing this -- noting that the consultant seemed in over his head (quoting major traffic engineering works, but then failing to explain them).

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 9:07 AM

The consultant was asked if any communities that tried a street diet plan had reversed that decision. He stated he wasn't sure but would try to get that information to the board. The presentation focused on overall benefits but did not address a worst case scenario. The trustees need to ask more questions and carefully research the issues before committing millions to this project. Once again, it appears that the final decision is being rushed to meet a deadline. Certainly not a good practice.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 8:50 AM

Part 1: After CFO Lesner explained $7.6M remained in the Madison TIF, Trustee Lueck asked how the debt for the proposed project fit within the overall debt capacity and financial health of the ENTIRE village. Pope tried to forestall the question by advocating a 'tiered discussion'; FIRST - seeking an ideal vision for Madison St.; SECOND - determine the financing req'd. for that vision, THIRD - reconcile any shortfalls between vision and financing (i.e. debt).

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 8:49 AM

Part 2: Pope's 'cart in front of horse' policy mentality continues to paint the village board in an impossible financial corner by allowing his ideal personal vision (vanity) projects to remain untethered to any budgetary reality. Pope's disconnect with reality is a chronic central policy problem that continues to compromise the policy process of the village board. Pope cannot be allowed to persist playing in his personal sandbox at our expense.

Dan from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 8:37 AM

I wonder what the genius consultants said would be the benefits from malling in Lake Street some 40 years ago. Who knows whether this slimming down will actually help business? What about the bigger picture of traffic routes for Oak Park and the region? And I repeat, all this hope and change is NOT FREE!

OP Resident  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 8:23 AM

Why would somoene from Carol Stream come to Madison Avenue to shop regardless of mode of transportation? Unless they're looking for "beauty products" there's nothing there. Why would any business owner want to invest there? Madison is uninviting and a death trap to pedestrians. Cars speed up, not slow down, for people trying to cross. It can't improve w/o investment and if a misguided investment is all that's on the table it is better than the barren mess that is Madison today.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 7:55 AM

This is supposed to be business district. We then restrict access to people from out of town with their autos from shopping here, which is what the community wants, that being taxes from commerce. Why would someone from Carol Stream ride their bicycle to Oak Park to shop? Now Oak Park residents can ride their bicycles to empty store fronts. Put the bicycle lanes in the parkway.

Comic Book Guy  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 7:12 AM

Worst idea ever.


Posted: April 4th, 2012 6:51 AM

@OB & Resident, I've nearly been hit at alleys due to those garage & yard walls many times. As for Madison, we cross it frequently. If you know which streets have traffic lights & crosswalks, it's doable. Nothing better enforcement couldn't fix. Repaint the lines, put up better signs, & then ticket motorists who don't stop if somebody is in the crosswalk. Plus the Village would get revenue from the lawbreakers...we love that kind of thing here, right?

RichF from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 1:46 AM

These geniuses are good at getting parking lots and empty store fronts along Madison and they want to screw up traffic even more? How do they get elected and more importantly will they be re-elected?

OB from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 1:05 AM

Oak Park has been pushing the bike lanes for some years now, including the marking of some major thoroughfares, as Division, with bike lanes. Unfortunately, I am yet to see where a public awareness campaign has been launched to alert bikers, pedestrians, and most important, motorists, about additional caution, especially when exiting alleys. I have noticed the walled in backyards which are dangerous to sidewalk users, bikers, and motorists exiting alleys. Wake up, Oak Park!!!

Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: April 4th, 2012 12:59 AM

How fast do you want to travel on Madison? The traffic flow is in the timing of the signals. Pedestrians and bicyclists are none existent. That leads to businesses struggling. Nobody wants to cross Madison which isolates the two sides. There is a senior living center and a hospital right there.


Posted: April 3rd, 2012 10:18 PM

Starting to build a mailing list of those who want change in Oak Park. Email to get on.


Posted: April 3rd, 2012 10:16 PM

The traffic at rush hour will be backed up from Harlem Avenue to California Avenue in the city. Traffic study anyone? The quality of life for the residents on the surrounding side streets will be negatively impacted by frustrated drivers diverting down those side streets. I guess you can spend more money later and create dead end streets all along Madison Street.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 9:44 PM

I would be great if Oak Park could afford the super deluxe plan that covers Austin to Harlem. Between the projected costs for Madison St. and the primo brick pavings in DTOP; how much will be available for neighborhood infrastructure? Glad to hear that the consultants made the point of how difficult it can be to simply walk across Madison St. Odd that these trustees are very concerned now about pedestrian safety. Some weren't too worried when they voted to eliminate funding for crossing guards.

Mike Lennox from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 9:31 PM

Oak Park ppppllllleeeeeaaaasssseee STOP!!!!

Dan from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 7:55 PM

This is a crazy waste of money. Less parking will not help businesses. Sending traffic to other RESIDENTIAL side streets is so counter-productive and could result in some serious accidents. This seemed like a terrible idea if it were a clean slate and the new road would be free. To spend all that money on Madison, and then who knows how much more on the "improvements" to neighboring streets..... WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE SMOKING???

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 7:34 PM

The last email I received was Saturday, it's Tuesday, not so long considering the request was "add me to your list". The email I received isn't you there Silly is it 'cause I've got to be honest - I'm not too inclined to add you to the list.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 6:52 PM

Tom Scharre - Agree with you 100%. The board's behind the curtain deals and faux Public Meetings are fruitless. I have attended hundreds of hours at public meeting in the last year with no satisfaction at all. The public meeting charade is the very reason that I did not attend the Madison St Diet Public Meeting that Warren chastized us for.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 6:47 PM

Was anyone shocked to find out that board members had to ask for information about the village's total debt capacity, and whether the village was in a position to take on $9M debt to do the bike lane diet street? It's odd that the same question was not asked when Pope and Johnson led the TIGER charge for Lake Downtown Rehab that will cost OP $17M if the govt approves the project? There is some funds for the Lake project from the DTOP TIF, but not enough to pay it all. I suggest that the village freeze all development funds until a forensic study and audit is performed on all OP finance since the 1st TIF was approved in 1973. The board ran on a platform of Responsible Government and Transparency. It is time for the board to do what they say, rather than spend at will!

Tom Scharre  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 6:36 PM

I've gotten a whiff of this aroma many times before. And the aroma says the 'deal' is 'done.'


Posted: April 3rd, 2012 6:21 PM

We need to save our money. We need to save our money. We need to save our money. $25 Million to redo streets and we dont have it. Save Save Save!!!

Mike from Elmwood Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 6:18 PM

Oak Park has TOO much money and don't know what to do with it!

Patricia from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 6:12 PM

Patricia O'Shea, I contacted you but you never replied via e-mail. You are the same as the board members.


Posted: April 3rd, 2012 6:08 PM

This is a great plan by the board. Sam Schwartz says beefing up Jackson and Washington can take the overflow Washington, so that should slow things down and add in some speed bumps. Once again the wonderful hard working people who want to make Oak Park better.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 6:00 PM

What is the point of making a street more business friendly if you are going to lose all that parking? It is hard enough to park on Madison near Ridgeland to go to anything at Julian (band concert, Cast, etc). And what money is there to pay for this? The few people who will bike Madison downtown should be asked if they can foot the bill.


Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:36 PM

@Warren, it's hard to tell sometimes where "harebrained scheme" and "hey, we're really serious about this" gets drawn around here sometimes. I think people tune out until it's too late and they realize they should have spoken up sooner. lol

Roger French from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:31 PM

great idea. make it bikes only, an replace the Ike with a streetcar

Warren from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:28 PM

We could have used some of you critics at the meetings they held at Julian. That's where they got the idea that people were positive about it.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:26 PM

I was initially skeptical about this project, but have since come around. Madison's high traffic volumes create a major divide in the village, and quieting that traffic down would do much to encourage more pedestrian activity and cycling. Insofar as business is concerned: so long as the street is engineered mainly to facilitate traffic moving at the fastest possible speed from Austin to Harlem, local businesses will continue to suffer.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:22 PM

The question of whether Madison Street in Chicago gets bike lanes strikes me as a non-issue -- adjacent Washington is already (mostly) marked off for biking downtown, and is vastly preferable to the west-side Chicago stretches of Madison that are badly traffic-clogged & double-parked stretches. Taking Washington down to the Loop (or locations in between) is actually one of the nicer cycling options available to Oak Parkers (admittedly that's not saying much).

Blue Vinton  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:21 PM

I generally support green efforts, but I think this is a bad idea. The Ike already narrows from four lanes to three throughout Oak Park, choking traffic to a crawl. Narrowing alternate east-west routes will only frustrate commuters. Look to other east-west routes to add bike lanes.

Pete Prokopowicz  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:09 PM

My family of three would need to contribute about $1,000 for this $17 million project - a rough approximation not accounting for non-residential tax sources, but still, this seems not worth it.


Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:07 PM

Marty is the reporter who tapped into the 2013 election theme. Years of study at the Wednesday Journal have uniquely trained Marty to identify the trends of his time. Best of luck Marty, and may your new endeavor be an interesting one.


Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:07 PM

This is collossally foolish. Does anyone remember how miserable it was when the Walgreen's was going in at Oak Park Ave. and they closed a lane? Do you really think this boondoggle is going to help fill all the vacant storefronts?

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:04 PM

Where's Marty going? I do think the tone of the Board comments on this issue is trending toward being more conservative with the social engineering which is good progress.


Posted: April 3rd, 2012 5:02 PM

is that the same Dennis Marani who now has a used car lot(seems like it anyway) in front of his abandon flower shop, which is a failed office development, that is getting continuous extensions to build because the developer is a friend of david pope? well dennis marani is sure not a good person to listen to, in his tenure as head of the madison street business ass-ociation we have had a walgreen's move across the street and a bunch of fat(not a typo) food place open. PURE CRUD!

Regular Reader from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 4:59 PM

Hey Marty. I am going to miss your postings and fine reporting for the WJ. Best of luck in your new adventure.

Dave from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 4:57 PM

What a fantastic idea... take a *major* east-west artery road and *choke* traffic on it!! Yeah, *that* will benefit bikers and pedestrians a whole lot. They can choke on exhaust fumes from the backed up cars while they dance to the horn music. The Village doesn't have anything better to spend tax money on?? Seriously, what is with our elected leaders in Oak Park?? Do they take an oath to beat themselves stupid once elected?


Posted: April 3rd, 2012 4:43 PM

Great, move the east-west traffic either onto local streets or onto other streets in the Village. This is a major through street. It is supposed to get a lot of traffic. And has anyone stopped to tell these geniuses that Toronto and Seattle are at least 20 times the size of Oak Park?

raw cyclist  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 4:41 PM

((facepalm)) I am truly speechless. Try riding in the "bike lane" on Chicago Ave. Absurd. Cars don't give a crap and ride on top. Why not have a protected lane and concentrate on Lake Street. Until then, I will continue to ride on sidewalks and grin at the sour pusses shooting me daggers. Happy trails!


Posted: April 3rd, 2012 4:36 PM

As a resident near Washington, what I'd like to see is the pedestrian safety & bike lanes pushed to Washington that is already a quieter residential street. Reduce the speed limit. Better crosswalks. Madison is for traffic.

oak park tax payer  

Posted: April 3rd, 2012 4:32 PM

What a waste of money. Take a look at Roosevelt and tell me you want to drive like that. If you want kids to be safe crossing Madison, then they should cross at the corner with the light. Let's use common sense. PLEASE!!!!!!!

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