Resisting the siren call of Hinsdale


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In his One View piece [Take a hint from downtown Hinsdale, Viewpoints, May 23], Paul Hamer believes Oak Park should look to Hinsdale, the so-called "teardown capital" as a model for downtown Oak Park. I find this a curious choice. Hinsdale and Oak Park seem incongruous, like pro and con, topsy and turvy or vice and versa.

In their housing policies, for instance, you couldn't find a more opposite village to Oak Park than Hinsdale. Those Hinsdalians love home demolition. Since 1986, new homes have replaced about a third of Hinsdale's housing stock, an average of 72 a year.

However, in Oak Park, people love houses. People don't want to tear any of them down. They love houses here so much you couldn't even tear down an evil house like the one in Amityville Horror or Hill House from The Haunting no matter how many people they possessed.

You would have preservationists here organizing to stop the demolition of an evil house. These preservationists would admit evil houses have a few problems, such as killing people; nevertheless, they would still demand their salvation on the grounds that their oldness outweighs their homicidal tendency.

They would say the evil houses are not evil but misunderstood. Their evil results from improper and unhistorical renovations that instill feelings of low self-esteem in the houses. They would call on the village to purchase the evil houses, exorcise them with non-polluting methods, so-called "ecofriendly exorcisms," then remodel them to landmark historical specifications.

In Oak Park, only the complaints of neighbors can cause the village government to approve the demolition of an evil house. Neighbors would become very upset if an evil house starts oozing green slime from the walls, and it flows out into yards and covers their landscaping (if the green slime stinks, it will have the entire block in an uproar); or if an eerie Pee Wee Herman voice emanates from the house, yelling profanity or support for the war in Iraq at people as they walk down the sidewalk, that also would compel the neighbors to call for its demolition.

This would cause two of the most powerful forces in Oak Park, historical preservationists and angry neighbors, to collide, and as they battle, each side would become possessed by the controversy of evil house demolition.

Only a compromise would solve the dispute and end the controversy. A compromise might consist of tearing down just the second story of a multistory evil house or just its first story, leaving the upper levels intact.

However, each side would refuse to accede to a compromise as they fall deeper into the possession of the controversy. In time, it would take complete control of their minds, and their raucous bickering would raise the numbers of Pissed Off Oak Parkers (POOPERS) in the village to unprecedented levels.

The village trustees then would need to hire exorcists to dispossess the controversy from the angry neighbors and preservationists before a smegma of toxic POOPER vitriol envelops the village, leaving unpissed Oak Parkers (UNPOOPERS) to hunker down in their homes and wait out the exorcism, all the while wishing they could live somewhere else.

Like Hinsdale.

Byron Lanning

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