What a difference a year makes!

Monday, 30 June 2008 | Category : Editorials

One year ago, with the overwhelming support of the electorate and the swearing in of the Village Manager Association’s (VMA) endorsed slate of the Citizens for Progressive Action candidates, Ray Johnson, Jon Hale, John Hedges, and Jan Pate, Oak Park took a giant step forward. Take a look at what has changed:

  • The Oak Park Village Board meetings are no longer an embarrassment. We see a return to responsible, civil discourse at the Board’s table with fewer meetings, which end at reasonable hours, giving both Board members and members of the public sensible opportunities for engagement.
  • This Board has addressed the serious Village fund balance issues by making difficult cost cutting moves, with plans to monitor the process throughout the year in advance of the next budget session. Over $3.5M in nonessential expenses was cut from the 2008 budget. Village-owned properties are being sold and returned to the tax rolls.
  • Concrete action has occurred despite the very challenging economic times. For example, continued capital improvement throughout the Village is taking place, with a renewed emphasis on street resurfacing and alley reconstruction. The village is reaching out to Springfield and Washington, D.C. to secure State and Federal dollars for added capital improvement and infrastructure projects.
  • Movement is occurring on the Colt/Westgate area. The Board has implemented the new idea of competition with development teams, which is aiding this movement.
  • Public safety initiatives have been started, along with police deployment reviews with Police Chief Tanksley.
  • The Village is working strategically with its neighbors as evidenced by: outreach to Chicago Aldermen for North Avenue improvements; partnerships with Berwyn and Cicero for Roosevelt Road improvements; and continued inter-governmental cooperation with Forest Park and River Forest for resource sharing.
  • Efforts toward becoming a sustainable community have increased, demonstrated by Oak Park hosting Green Town, the Barrie Park Green Homes RFQ, the Bike Plan, and the recent effort to consolidate commercial waste collection.
  • The Board has focused on improved parking efficiencies and cost/expense ratios designed to reduce the parking fund deficit.
  • Work has started on a new vacancy ordinance that would seek to reduce the number of commercial vacancies in the village by encouraging building owners’ efforts and progress and improvements to properties.

Three cheers for this outstanding team, which, true to its name, has made PROGRESS and ACTION the new theme of Oak Park governance.


Bob Kane
President of the VMA Board of Directors