The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Village Manager's Weekly Report

Week Ending July 12, 2019

Meetings scheduled for next week:

  • Monday, July 15:
    • Special Meeting, 7 p.m., Public Works Center
  • Tuesday, July 16:
    • Citizens Police Oversight Committee, 7:30 p.m., room 215
  • Wednesday, July 17:
    • Farmers’ Market Commission, 7 p.m., room 101
  • Thursday, July 18:
    • Building Codes Advisory Committee, 5 p.m., room 215
  • Friday, July 19:
    • No meetings scheduled

Unity Temple recognition – Oak Park’s own Unity Temple is now listed among icons like the Taj Mahal, the pyramids of Egypt and the Statue of Liberty. Unity Temple was among eight Frank Lloyd Wright buildings added this week to the World Heritage List of the planet’s most significant cultural and natural sites. This list is compiled by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which supports international cooperation in education, the sciences and culture. In addition to Unity Temple, Chicago’s Robie House, which is considered a Prairie-style masterpiece, made the list as well. The Wright structures reportedly are the first U.S. examples of modern architecture to be named to the prestigious list. Click here to read Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin’s report.

Budget wins award – The Village has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the current budget from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). This award, which the Village has won multiple times, is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting and represents a significant achievement by our organization. To receive the budget award, our Finance Department staff had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation that required our budget to be not only a policy document and financial plan, but also an operations guide and communications device.

Electronic parking waitlist a hit – The new online parking services system nearly eliminated one of the most inconvenient aspects faced by customers hoping to land a coveted space in some of the most in-demand areas. The new system allowed residents to join an online waiting list rather than come to Village Hall and stand in line in hopes a space in their desired location would be available when they reached the counter. This year, individuals who joined the waiting list online were notified automatically by email if a space became available in their desired location and given three days to make the purchase or the offer would to go to the next person in the virtual line. Only six residents came in person to purchase a permit during last Saturday’s open sales as compared to 93 individuals who stood in line last year at Village Hall.

Historic Preservation review – After about three hours of public comments and discussions, the Historic Preservation Commission last night (Thurs., July 11) chose not to approve two applications for Certificates of Appropriateness (COA) filed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust. The applications were to demolish or move the house at 925 Chicago Ave. and remove side and rear additions from 931 Chicago Ave. to accommodate a new education center for the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio at 951 Chicago Ave. Prior to the meeting, the HPC had received 14 letters from the public, 13 of which were against one or both projects. Three meeting attendees spoke against the projects, four spoke in favor and one spoke in favor of just moving 925 Chicago Ave. The HPC found that a majority of the additions in question at 931 Chicago Ave. were historic since they had been constructed within the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture period of about 1865 to 1941. HPC members also agreed that 925 Chicago Ave. is a contributing structure and expressed concern about moving the building since it would alter the context of the Wright Home and Studio, which is a key part of the education experience there. The HPC did recommended additional discussions with the Architectural Review Committee for the 931 Chicago Ave. project, but indicated they could not approve the COA application as written.

Zoning marijuana retailers – With state-approved sale of recreational marijuana set to begin on Jan. 1, the Plan Commission will consider how best to address this new retail classification within the Village Zoning Ordinance. Consistent with current local zoning regulations on medical marijuana establishments, staff is recommending that the new recreational outlets be designated as a permitted use in all business and commercial zoning districts. Following consideration by the Plan Commission, recommendations will be submitted to the Village Board for consideration. Currently, only licensed medical marijuana dispensing outlets will be allowed to legally sell recreational marijuana in Illinois. Future expansion is anticipated, but the number of outlets and their locations will be controlled by the state.

Downtown construction update – Minor traffic impacts are expected downtown Saturday (July 13) as Village contractors connect the new traffic signal equipment at the intersection of Lake Street and Forest Avenue. Work is scheduled to begin at 4 a.m. and continue into the afternoon, but noise should be minimal since most of the activity will entail electrical wiring. The signals will be down during the work and traffic will be controlled by the temporary stop signs as is typical in power outages. In the meantime, overnight work is still underway by the Albion development site as ComEd, AT&T and Village contractors install underground electrical infrastructure, fiber optic cable and upgrades to the intersection’s lighting and traffic signal system, as well as patch pavement. The overnight work is expected to be completed by late July.

Village Hall parking lot update – Workers were back on the job this week waterproofing the roof of the Police garage under the unfinished portion of the Village Hall parking lot. Once this critical task is completed, it could take three or more weeks to finish the plaza and return the entire lot to service. While the underground garage is now open to designated vehicles, restrictions in the surface lot remain in place and staff is continuing to park in designated areas on nearby streets.

Madison Street update – Concrete work is scheduled to begin next week west of Oak Park Avenue on the north side of the roadway. This work should take about a week and a half, after which activity will shift to the south side of this same section. Traffic on Madison Street also will be limited to one lane in each direction between Harlem and Oak Park avenues beginning Monday. With the exception of pedestrian islands, the sidewalk adjacent to the frontage road across from Village Hall and a few other locations, concrete has been replaced as needed between East Avenue and Austin Boulevard. Relining of the small-diameter sewers was expected to be completed by the end of this week. Relining of the larger-diameter sewers, which will be done overnight to minimize service disruptions, is set begin next week and take about 10 days. Construction updates continue to be distributed via email and posted on the dedicated project website

Street resurfacing to begin – Resurfacing of various streets in the Village is scheduled to begin next week. Work will begin with the underground utilities for the traffic calming projects on Taylor and Lombard avenues between LeMoyne Parkway and North Avenue. Reconstruction of Wisconsin Avenue between Harrison and Adams streets and on Marion Street between Ontario Street and Chicago Avenue will follow. The final phase, which should be completed in September, will include resurfacing portions of Clarence Avenue, Randolph Street and Iowa Street. Improvements to sidewalks and crossing ramps to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also will be completed as part of these projects.

Miscellaneous construction updates – Clarence Avenue remained closed this week between Roosevelt Road and Harvard Street, as the sewer project moves toward a fall completion. Maple Avenue near Oak Park Hospital was expected to be repaved this week as part of the hospital expansion project. The South Boulevard streetscape project between Marion Street and Harlem Avenue is winding down, with crews finalizing tasks related to the parkway vegetation irrigation system, decorative planters and tree pits. Some sidewalk remains to be installed at the corners of South Boulevard and Harlem Avenue. The project completion is expected to be substantially completed by August 1.

Employee News – Paige Oucheriah has joined the Information Technology Department as a Systems Analyst. Paige recently earned a Computer Science degree from Augustana College in Rock Island and this is her first job in her chosen field. In her role with the Village, she will focus primarily on analyzing and applying business processes and rules for our online systems that manage property-related applications and requests filed under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).