Visual clutter in our parks

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I recently wrote to the Park District of Oak Park and its board to let them know I am grateful for the beautiful and well-maintained public spaces they've been entrusted with. Also, I mentioned my concern about signage at Lindberg and Taylor parks not being the most prudent use of funds at a time when residents are very concerned about their tax bills (pictures of signs attached).

A Lindberg Park sign with a QR code can be used for an interactive tree map. Free smart phone apps are available for tree identification. According to the park district, the QR code provides a "GIS locator [that] tells specific facts about each tree and identifies the memorial trees … as well as information on tree health and maintenance. Staff felt that adding signs at these locations [Lindberg, Mills, Scoville, Austin Gardens] would be interesting and educational for our residents; many often ask us for information about tree species in our parks." 

I replied that this sounds helpful for tree maintenance and that I was curious to know how many visitors have downloaded the information to learn more about the trees in our parks. They do not have information on how many people utilize the QR code.

The Taylor Park sign states, "Please sit here, it's a lovely spot" right next to a bench! "The Park District Wellness Committee designed these signs as a way to generate conversation, initiate smiles and remind residents that wellness is more than running on a treadmill." 

I was incredulous (not smiling) at this redundant sign when I saw it. I also learned these signs will be moved to different parks throughout the year and that the "cost is nominal."

As a resident and taxpayer, I support our beautiful public spaces with PDOP utilizing funds in a wise manner. My feedback is that a sign that tells you to sit on a bench is not a wise use of funds. As stewards of Oak Park's beautiful parks, I hope the board welcomes resident feedback. Just as the persons who inquired about tree information received action, I hope the residents who are concerned with funds being spent prudently are addressed as well. 

Signs that are not useful create visual clutter in our beautiful parks.

Michelle Siu

Oak Park

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