'No Trespassing' signs and substance-abuse programs? What gives?

Opinion

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Don Gregor, One View

Over four weeks ago, I sent all members of the village board an e-mail via the village's website?#34;see excerpt (for brevity) below. The next day I received an e-mail from Trustee Ray Johnson that this communication was forwarded to the [nebulous] staff for review. From my experience, that meant it was dumped in the bureaucratic trashcan. Now, it's over 30-days later and no "staff" or anyone else has acknowledged or responded.

Funny about life's eddies and circles. Several years back, I attended an early meeting of a new political party in the village?#34;the VCA. At that meeting, there was a very vocal man by the name of Bob Milstein. Among his many comments that night was a question, "Has anyone ever written the village about any concern or problem?" Every hand in the room was raised. His next question was, "Has anyone ever received a reply?" Not a single hand went up. Bob Milstein's point was that the VCA wanted to change that. Well, now Mr. Milstein is a village trustee?#34;the majority whip! And nothing has changed. Business as usual. Politics as usual. The governance of Oak Park looks a lot like a "mini-me" of Washington.

I write this to Wednesday Journal's Viewpoints in hopes that it might light a fire somewhere though I am not hopeful. WJ has lit a lot of fires over the years, only to have them flicker and go out. Here's the e-mail:

Dear Village Trustees:

I just returned from my early evening dog walk on Tuesday, June 6. A four-year routine. I live across from Rush-Oak Park Hospital Medical Clinic. The walk's pivot point is the hospital's empty lot on Wenonah, just south of Madison?#34;behind Belmont Village.

Tonight I was chagrined and appalled to find a half-a-dozen obnoxious signs?#34;black background with orange letters?#34;posted on the lot: NO TRESPASSING ?#34; VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED. What's up, here? Is the hospital becoming an arrogant and obnoxious neighbor?

In the many years that I've walked my dog across that lot, I've noticed many people, small children, and dogs enjoying the open, grassy field. Are we all going to be arrested now? By who? What's the fine? What does prosecuting mean? A fine? Jail time? What's Oak Park's definition of trespassing? Is this a felony or a misdemeanor?

Are a half-dozen NO TRESPASSING signs on the hospital-owned, grassy, empty lot, with one tall pine tree, a "good neighbor" gesture? I should add that this empty lot is book-ended by transient, temporary, recovery (addiction) houses, owned by the hospital. In fact the hospital owns all property on this Wenonah block.

This is a residential neighborhood. Does zoning allow for transient, recovery houses in residential neighborhoods? Does the hospital have approval? Do they need approval for transient, rooming houses?

Although the hospital calls their recovery program "behavioral health," it's still a substance-abuse program [alcohol, drugs, and prescriptions/medical narcotics.] These two houses accommodate out-patients in a long-term, professional substance-abuse program.

As I recall, several years back, the village denied an AA halfway house permission to open a facility in Oak Park (neighbor outrage!). The wild call of "NIMBY." And just recently, neighbors and the village drove a long-time NA (Narcotics Anonymous) recovery club out of Harrison Street. NIMBY! Yet the village allows, or looks the other way, at Rush Hospital doing the same thing. Is this because these are professional addicts rather than lower-class addicts?

Someone once said, "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck!" No matter what superfluous name the hospital calls its recovery program, they are all problem addicts in early recovery. Quack, quack, quack. What is good for the ducks should be good for the ganders, too!

The village bent over backwards to accommodate the Rush-Oak Park clinic building (new in 2000), and all the neighbors get from the hospital in return is indifference?#34;and No Trespassing signs! Maybe it is time the village mandated the hospital to be a "good neighbor." To give a little.

The Village of Oak Park has given a large chunk of a public roadway (600 block of south Maple) to the hospital clinic building as a private driveway. In 2005, the hospital petitioned the village for the rest of the street for a parking annex. The hospital clinic building has an atrocious parking problem?#34;insufficient for employees, patients, salespeople, and deliveries.

Are there any village ordinances regarding large-scale, commercial developments and adequate provisions for 1) employee parking, 2) customer and patient parking, 3) sales force and delivery parking? I would appreciate replies to these concerns:

1. No Trespassing signs.

2. Group, recovery houses in residential neighborhoods.

3. Parking space regulations for large, commercial developments.

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