The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 | village@oak-park.us

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Village Manager's Weekly Report

Week Ending February 23, 2024

Meetings scheduled for the next week:

  • Monday, February 26:
    • Police Oversight Committee, 7 p.m. in Room 124
  • Tuesday, February 27:
    • No meetings scheduled
  • Wednesday, February 28:
    • Disability Access Commission, 6 p.m. in Room 215
  • Thursday, February 29:
    • No meetings scheduled
  • Friday, March 1:
    • No meetings scheduled

Click here to view this week's report via GovDelivery

Narcan training leads to life-saving response hours later – The Public Health Department hosted an opioid overdose training on Feb. 16 for more than 20 staff members of Sarah’s Inn, a local organization that provides comprehensive domestic violence services to community members. The Public Health Nurse and staff Epidemiologist were on hand to present the training, which covers harm reduction principles as well as tips for spotting when someone is experiencing an opioid overdose and step-by-step instructions for how to administer Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan. Just hours later, the Public Health Department received an email sharing the story of one training participant who, on her way home from the training, stopped into a retail store and noticed someone exhibiting the signs of an overdose. Using her training and free doses of Narcan, she administered the medication, called 911 and waited for the paramedics to arrive to provide further assistance. Public Health Department staff is available to train any community members or organizations interested in learning to use Narcan. Please contact health@oak-park.us or call 708.358.5480 to schedule a training. More information about the initiative is at www.oak-park.us/naloxone.

Black History Month update – The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion welcomed more than 100 attendees to a Black History Month celebration on Feb. 17 at the Nineteenth Century Club. The event featured speakers, performers, interactive activities, music and more. Click here to watch video footage from the event. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is continuing to commemorate Black History Month by hosting a free screening and discussion of the movie “Origin” at 6:30 p.m. on Mon., Feb. 26 at the Lake Theatre, 1022 Lake St. The captivating film by Ava DuVernay that explores discrimination in the United States and beyond. The film is based on the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson. After the screening guests are invited to stay for a thoughtful discussion to delve into the themes and messages portrayed in the film. The event has reached capacity as limited seats were available. For more information, contact DEI@oak-park.us.  

Press conference focuses on preserving Julian home – Village elected officials and staff attended a press conference Thursday hosted by Rep. Danny K. Davis to announce the congressman’s plans to work toward having Percy Julian’s Oak Park home designated as a national historic site. Julian was a world-famous research chemist who pioneered the synthesis of medicinal drug compounds from soybeans. When he moved his family to mostly white Oak Park in 1950, his house was firebombed twice. Although no one was injured, many in the community rallied around him and he became a focal point for civil rights in the Village. More information about efforts to preserve the home is available in an article published by the Wednesday Journal – click here to view.

Business façade improvement update – The Village’s Commercial Façade Improvement Program completed its most successful year ever in 2023 as a record-breaking nine business/property owners received assistance for façade improvements. The Village’s program is designed to assist businesses and property owners with improvements like installing new windows or doors, tuckpointing, signage improvements or the purchase of new awnings. The goal of the program is to continue improving the visual appeal of the Village’s many important business districts. In 2023, improvements were achieved across the entire community at businesses from Roosevelt Road to North Avenue, Pleasant Street to Madison Street and along Lake Street. Since the program was started in 2018, the Village has awarded 27 improvement grants to businesses totaling more than $116,000. Click here for a complete list of past façade improvement grant recipients over the past six years. The Village is eager to continue the past success of the program in 2024. Any business owner or business property owner interested in learning more about the Village’s façade improvement program can contact Cameron Davis, Economic Vitality Administrator, at cdavis@oak-park.us.

Wide range of responses for Oak Park Avenue art RFQ – The Village’s request for qualifications for the sculpture/obelisk and viaduct art installation associated with the upcoming Oak Park Avenue streetscaping project closed on Tuesday. The Village received 43 applications for the sculpture/obelisk project, and the viaduct art installation received 39 applications - all from professional, independent artists and design/architecture firms, ranging from local Oak Park artists to international applicants. The streetscape project consultant team will be initially reviewing the applications for Village staff to make Phase II selections. Phase II of the artist integration process will collect concepts from each selected artist, at which time a final selection will be made for each installation.

Facility Review Committee update – The Village’s Facility Review Committee reviewed three design schemes for renovating Village Hall prepared by JKL Architects at its meeting this Thursday. The committee’s next meeting will take place March 16, and plans are tentatively in place for the committee to bring recommendations to the Village Board at a special meeting on April 9. More information about the Facility Review Committee is on the Village website – click here to view

Forest & Ontario update – New street lighting is being installed in the area around the intersection of Forest Avenue and Ontario Street. Underground work in the alley south of Austin Gardens is planned to connect the new electric service. Lighting the new circuit has been delayed to next week. Once all the new poles are wired and lit, the old poles will be removed. Residents should exercise caution while crews are working. Construction in the area will pause after completion of the electric work and then resume in the spring when asphalt plants reopen.

Madison Street improvement project – All businesses and property owners on Madison Street from Oak Park Avenue to East Avenue have been notified about the upcoming construction project. Changeable message boards were installed facing eastbound and westbound traffic last week. The contractor is currently working on construction layout and locating existing utilities along Madison Street. Water main installation is expected to begin March 4, weather permitting. 

Focus development update – Exterior metal panels and garage screenings are being installed on all elevations at the new Focus Development located at the intersection of Pleasant Street and Marion Street. Blue stone and street paver installation is still in progress along Marion Street.

Reduced parking permit fee program – Residents currently participating in the Oak Park Housing Authority’s Housing Choice Voucher Program or living in select affordable housing locations are eligible to utilize the Village’s reduced parking permit fee program. Eligible residents are able to purchase a quarterly Village parking permit for a reduced flat fee of $50, equating to individual savings of between 57-81%, depending on the type of parking permit. For more information about the program, residents can contact parking@oak-park.us.  

Bite Nite ticket giveaway – The Village is teaming up with the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce to help promote the Chamber’s upcoming Bite Nite event by offering free tickets through the Village-managed Pick Oak Park social media accounts. Bite Nite will feature more than 30 local restaurants, caterers and food brands together under one roof for one night only to serve small sample mains and delectable desserts from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on March 1 at the Nineteenth Century Club. Anyone interested in winning two free tickets can like the post on Pick Oak Park’s Facebook page and tag a friend to be entered into the contest. One lucky winner will be chosen at random and announced Feb. 26. A similar contest was held through the Pick Oak Park Instagram page last weekend. For more information about Bite Nite, visit www.oprfchamber.org/bite-nite.

Restaurant week begins – Visit Oak Park’s new Bite the Burbs restaurant week initiative is underway. Stop by any participating restaurant starting today (Feb. 23) through Friday, March 1 to take advantage of great food at great deals while supporting local business. Twenty-one Oak Park restaurants are participating in the event, with another 16 restaurants participating in Forest Park and Riverside. The Bite the Burbs initiative is a new restaurant week event showcasing the restaurants in Oak Park and the surrounding area. Find more information, including a list of participating restaurants, on the Visit Oak Park website – click here to view.

Oak Park featured on “John McGivern’s Main Streets” – Oak Park is being featured in season three of “John McGivern’s Main Streets,” a television program that airs on PBS. A six-time Emmy award-winning actor and host, John McGivern uncovers the uniqueness and charm of each Midwest community he visits as part of his show. The episode was coordinated by Visit Oak Park and features Oak Park’s murals, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park and River Forest High School, several local businesses and more. Click here to view the episode.

Date Set for What’s Blooming on Harrison – The Oak Park Arts District has set Sat., May 18 as the date for its annual What’s Blooming on Harrison street festival. During the event Harrison Street is transformed into a street festival with live music, food vendors, makerspaces and a children’s carnival between Humphrey Avenue and Cuyler Avenue. The street festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with the beer garden and main stage musical entertainment running until 9 p.m.  For more information about vendor or sponsorship opportunities at the 2024 festival, please contact lindsay@oakparkartsdistrict.com.