Green up, Oak Park

Oak Park Board of Trustees approves sustainability measures

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park Board of Trustees approved two proposals at its May 20 meeting that aim to make Oak Park more environmentally sustainable.

The first measure establishes the "Plastic Free July" campaign by the village's Environment and Energy Commission (EEC). The other will install thousands of energy efficient lightbulbs on streetlamps across the village.

The plastics-free campaign follows a five-month review by the EEC and primarily aims to educate restaurant owners and workers on the environmental damage brought by single-use plastic straws, flatware and to-go containers, among others.

"Together they contribute to high volumes of pollution, and most restaurant staff is not aware of the environmental impact," according to a document in the village board's meeting packet.

Nick Bridge, chairman of the EEC, said the campaign aims to make it more standard for restaurants to hand out plastic items by request only. The village also would collect data on the amount of plastics given out by businesses to establish a database to assess consumption of plastic materials.

Trustee Deno Andrews said he supports the program, congratulating the village on reducing plastic bag consumption last year from the passage of a plastic bag tax. He said that tax charges a dime per bag at some larger businesses in an effort to encourage residents to bring a reusable bag.

The village board also approved a new program to replace the energy guzzling 100-watt mercury vapor streetlight lightbulbs with 3,000 Kelvin LED energy-efficient lightbulbs.

The program will be paid for by the village's Environmental Sustainability Fund, which is a voluntary program residents pay into through their energy bill to help support such green initiatives.

The streetlight program will be rolled out over three years, according to Oak Park Public Works Director John Wielebnicki. That will entail replacing bulbs on roughly 2,500 light poles, he said.

The program will begin on the east side of the village and expand west, with about 800 to 900 new lightbulbs installed a year. He said the new lightbulbs require less maintenance and will stay brighter longer.

"Switching to LED lamps will maintain the lamp within 90 percent of their original wattage output through the life of the lamp, whereas mercury vapor goes down to around 40 percent at the four- to five-year range," a document noted in the online village board meeting packet.

Although not discussed at the Monday night meeting, the decision to replace the lights was driven in part by a spate of carjackings that took place in late 2017 and early 2018. Residents argued then that subpar street lighting was contributing to the problem.

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Reader Comments

8 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Jennifer Malloy Quinlan  

Posted: May 28th, 2019 2:42 PM

When will we ban styrofoam?

Marlene Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2019 4:29 PM

Instead of just changing bulbs, we should be changing the fixtures to avoid another type of polution - light polution. With the proper fixture, the light shines on streets and sidewalks, not up in the sky.

Les Golden  

Posted: May 22nd, 2019 9:16 PM

1.. I tried aggregation. It was always higher than ComEd. 2.. The Park District DOES NOT recycle. Tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of plastic bottles, glass bottles, paper, plastic utensils, etc. etc. are trashed at the pools, ice rink, gymastics center, and all the ball fields every day during baseball season. The ex-head of bldgs and grounds, Michael Grandy, told me people don't use them. Right, Mike. We have a small army of people who sort through the garbage at various parks and take the recyclables home for recycling. I have a list of parks that are so serviced. If you want to put your money where your mouth is, contact me and I'll tell you which parks are not so serviced by us volunteer villagers. Or contact the lovely park district and ask them why not? Just imagine, a park district that does not recycle. Only in the Park District Halls of Hypocrisy. 3.. Civilizations grow and die based on water. The time is soon when global warming will lead to Great Lakes water being diverted via thousand mile long aqueducts to the parched western agriculture states. The village, as with garbage, should reduce the rate it charges for water if a house uses less than a given amount.

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: May 22nd, 2019 6:47 PM

@Dave, You'd have to opt out of the Village aggregation program, and buy your electricity from someone else (it all comes from ComEd, but different companies are the middle man).//If you opt out, but don't pick another company, ComEd defaults as your company.//The one thing that people don't know, is that by sticking with an aggregation program, you may be actually be paying more for your electricity (not just the sustainability fee), because there are two charges on your electric bill--supply and delivery. ComEd charges a higher delivery fee if they are not the supplier of the electricity.//Here is a link for more info on the aggregation program...

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: May 22nd, 2019 4:39 PM

How about some initiatives to save on power usage. Like the "turn down the lights" night they had in the City. We could turn the lights down at places like the Oak Park main library after it closes. Or Ridgeland commons after there are no more games.

Mary Davidson Stanton  

Posted: May 22nd, 2019 4:33 PM

These are positive steps, and I laud them. Now I encourage further steps, starting with more recycling bins around town. I live and work in Oak Park, and I must carry my recyclables home with me.

Dave Slade from Oak Park  

Posted: May 22nd, 2019 4:21 PM

"The program will be paid for by the village's Environmental Sustainability Fund, which is a voluntary program residents pay into through their energy bill to help support such green initiatives." Just curious - how does one opt out of a "voluntary" charge on my energy bill?

Karen Barg Baldwin  

Posted: May 22nd, 2019 3:31 PM

I am dreading the new on a corner makes it very hard to block the light out of bedrooms, have bonfires, or movies on a screen.

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