Oak Park gears up for 2019 budget

Departments present board of trustees with priorities for next year

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

 The heads of various departments in the village of Oak Park – public works, police, fire and finance, among others – laid out their priorities to members of the Oak Park Board of Trustees at a meeting at village hall on Monday.

The presentations covered everything from plans for renovation of the police station, which is located in the basement of Oak Park Village Hall, to implementation of new dockless bike-sharing programs.

Tammie Grossman, director of the village's Development Customer Services Department, identified a number of initiatives for her department in 2019, including implementation of a new parking pilot program in the village. 

Development customer services also aims to promote use of its City View software, which allows developers and homeowners to schedule and check building permits and other tasks associated with the village on the internet. The promotion in 2019 also will include getting the word out about Oak Park's Passport Parking system, which allows residents to pay for parking permits and passes online.

The department also will complete its digitization of remaining microfiche "so people can get information about their home" without having to come to Village Hall.

Implementation of a new dockless bike-sharing program also is at the top of the agenda list for 2019. Oak Park ended its relationship with Divvy bike sharing in early 2018 because of lack of usage and the high cost of the program.

Fire Department Chief Thomas Ebsen laid out a number of priorities for his department, noting that the department would like to replace one of its fire engines purchased in 1998 and add a third ambulance to its operations. 

The list of fire department asks also includes: replacing the fire station's alerting and dispatch system; replacing overhead doors at two of its stations; renovating restrooms, lockers, showers and kitchens at its facilities; and replacing ambulance computers; among others.

Ebsen said the fire department also aims to increase diversity through its hiring practices in 2019. Those efforts could include stronger recruitment at Oak Park and River Forest High School and creating mentoring programs for students. "There are things we can do proactively to enhance our ability to recruit," he told the board.

At the Oak Park Police Department, Acting Police Chief LaDon Reynolds told the board that the department aims to further evaluate its use of mobile surveillance cameras in the village and step up its use of social media to help keep residents informed. 

From the Public Works Department, director John Wielebnicki said he aims to begin looking into purchasing electric vehicles for the village's fleet of various service vehicles.

"Of our complete fleet of a couple hundred vehicles, over 70 percent are what we would consider green vehicles," he said, noting that those are made up of hybrid, biofuel vehicles and electric.

 Public works also plans to increase its review of water leaks throughout the village, proposing the village pay to have a leak study conducted in 2019. Oak Park learned earlier this year that about 25 percent of the water it purchased from the city of Chicago was lost due to waste. That amounts to about $1.2 million in unbillable water.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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Tom MacMillan  

Posted: August 29th, 2018 3:50 PM

How is dock-less bikes even possibly on top of the agenda? Who thinks that people want that? They already killed off a business that rented bikes located right by the Green Line with their last brainstorm.

Jeff Evans from Oak Park  

Posted: August 29th, 2018 1:03 PM

How will this dockless implementation succeed where so many others have failed? https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/vby5j4/bike-sharing-doomed-to-fail-dallas-limebike-ofo-transportation-cycling

Nick A Binotti  

Posted: August 29th, 2018 12:34 PM

Dave - I think the dockless bike program is worth a shot (pending financial and practical review). It could be a sensible, iterative approach to address a major Divvy issue: dock-to-dock travel limitations.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: August 29th, 2018 12:22 PM

@Dave, I don't believe the new program costs the village anything in part because it's a dockless program so there isn't any real equipment to install.

Dave Slade from Oak Park  

Posted: August 29th, 2018 9:53 AM

"Implementation of a new dockless bike-sharing program also is at the top of the agenda list for 2019. Oak Park ended its relationship with Divvy bike sharing in early 2018 because of lack of usage and the high cost of the program." And what makes OP think that doing this again will result in a different outcome? Can't the hundreds of thousands of dollars that will be spent on this be spent on another useless proposal?

Jolyn Crawford  

Posted: August 28th, 2018 5:00 PM

Does the V of OP still have a Comprehensive Plan? Are the condo owners who own units in buildings that are suffering financially getting any advice or services to deal with leasing, sales and management issues; are there any numbers on the rental success of the new multi family rentals that have been built and effects on auto traffic and student enrollment. What about retail sales and taxes? Is Oak Park benefitting from all the changes and improvements? Or will referendums be a way if the future?

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