Oak Park gets $133,000 check for blizzard cleanup

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Five months after a raging blizzard dumped some 20 inches of snow on Oak Park, the village is finally getting its payback.

Following the third largest snowstorm in Oak Park's history, the village was declared a disaster area, as were the county and state. Village officials hoped the designation would bring relief funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to cover the costs of the pricy cleanup.

That move paid off, as Oak Park received a $133,000 check last week from FEMA, according to Village Manager Tom Barwin. Altogether, the village paid upwards of $180,000 on the effort, which included paying for outside contractors to help dig out alleys, along with tons of staff overtime hours. Barwin said crews spent about 72 hours digging things out, while the FEMA reimbursement was only to cover about 75 percent of costs.

The last time Oak Park was declared a disaster area was following heavy storms in July 2010 that dropped more than eight inches of rain on the community. Oak Park spent as much as $90,000 cleaning up after that storm, but Barwin said that the village wasn't able to secure FEMA dollars a year ago.

The state and federal government can be slow paying their bills lately, as they wrestle with massive deficits, so Barwin was happy to see the $133,000.

"In this economy, things coming out of the state and federal government seem to be delayed with ever-increasing frequency," he said.

Reader Comments

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Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 18th, 2011 10:56 PM

Is Village Clerk Powell in support of the idea and willing to present it on behalf of the community to state representatives? A resolution from the board of trustees would also be helpful.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: July 18th, 2011 12:37 PM

These ideas should be shared with state representatives, who regulate the terms of all governmental meetings.


Posted: July 14th, 2011 4:22 PM

Teresa and John, solution for both (maybe): have an open line, ie. skype, for communication at village hall, or any other "public" venue. anyone who does not have a computer can go to village hall and participate, with a moderator in the room. I just spent two hours on a webex today... people in three different location with on room had two people because the others computer did not work.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 14th, 2011 2:32 PM

I was not implying that such a commission would never meet in public session, just that most of their business would be in internet sessions. Documentation of meetings are actually more thorough than manual minutes, etc. The key is probably use of sub-committees that have similar rules as commissions,but can meet more informally. You and discussed how to attract expert talent to commissions a few years ago and we agreed that more flexibility in meeting rules and guidelines would be productive.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: July 14th, 2011 1:42 PM

John, while your idea is intriguing, the Illinois Open Meetings Act requires that members of a commission be physically present and that the meeting be open to the public (not all of whom have a computer). We would certainly welcome additional experts who cannot commit to commission membership to offer expert testimony, of course.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 14th, 2011 1:26 PM

Two thought Adam. Shouldn't this a OP first attempt at a virtual commission. That is; formal meeting rarely occur at village hall. Commission rules allow sub committees including experts that are not commissioner. This could facilitate experts serving for less than a three years term. Their knowledge and skill could be used as required. This initiative is a winner.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park  

Posted: July 14th, 2011 12:55 PM

Touche, T.J. Actually, though, the goal and the vision are to harness our local professional talent in this area-- which is significant. We have Oak Parkers who are experts not just in social media, but also programming and communications who I dearly hope will become Commissioners. We need to do a better job of tapping into to our residents' expertise and abilities. I hope everyone who is a part of this vibrant online community and others will lend their skills and voices to this effort.

T.J. from OP  

Posted: July 14th, 2011 9:20 AM

@Adam You forgot the fourth step, pay a consultant a huge amount of money to help with implementation.

epic lulz  

Posted: July 14th, 2011 8:56 AM

Good to hear that the wealthy community of Oak Park snagged some FEMA money while NOLA is still in desperate shape and kids all across the country are starving. Gotta love the US of A and the way the rich keep on getting richer.

1/2 way there  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 10:01 PM

Adam, I cant imagine coughlin or murtagh really want change or improvement. What will they write about??? LoL

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 10:00 PM

Great news Adams. This is a critical initiative.

Adam Salzman from Oak Park  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 9:37 PM

John, look for a draft ordinance for the creation of a Civic Information Technology Commission to come before the Board at the next Regular Board Meeting. 1st step is to constitute the Commission. 2nd step is to craft a comprehensive plan to overhaul our Civic Technological Infrastructure to increase Citizen Access to the tools of local government. I hope our community of "online" activists will be a part of that process and will weigh in on particulars. Third step is implementation of the plan.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 7:47 PM

My comment is not related to this subject but am wondering why the "Facebook Verified" tag is not displayed. I noticed that the two most recent comments from John Murtagh are also missing the verification tag. I log-in via Facebook and receive the "welcome" greeting but the "Check Mark" does not accompany the postings.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 6:14 PM

Speaking of PeopleSoft. What ever happened to the board's information management initiative? If there has been any improvement, it sure has not reached the website!

Good Start  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 3:02 PM

Only $2.1M more and the PeopleSoft disaster will be reimbursed. I wonder if the government could pay us in $24,999.99 increments?

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