Week Ending September 29, 2023
Meetings scheduled for next week:
- Monday, October 2:
- Tuesday, October 3:
- Environment & Energy Commission, 7 p.m. in Council Chambers
- Wednesday, October 4:
- Citizen Involvement Commission, 7 p.m. in Room 101
- Zoning Board of Appeals, 7 p.m. in Council Chambers
- Thursday, October 5:
- Plan Commission, 7 p.m. in Room 201
- Friday, October 6:
Click here to view this week's report via GovDelivery
Village, Township earn ICMA award – The Village and Oak Park Township received the ICMA’s Community Partnership Award for communities with a population of 50,000 or greater for their work supporting the Oak Park River Forest Home Repair program for seniors. Through the program, residents age 60 and older can get help with simple home maintenance repairs through North West Housing Partnership. Funding for portions of the program is provided by the Village and Township. A full-page article in the September issue of ICMA’s Public Management magazine highlighted the program. Click here to view the article. More information about the program is available on the Village website under the Senior Home Repair Assistance heading at www.oak-park.us/housing.
Vision Zero project kicks off with Community Walkshop – The Village is hosting a Community Walkshop to kick off its Vision Zero initiative next Thursday, Oct. 5. The evening walking tour is intended to provide a fun, interactive way to provide feedback about traffic safety concerns in the Village. The tour will begin at 6:45 p.m. outside Village Hall and will take roughly one hour to complete. The Vision Zero project strives to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by developing a plan to make mobility in the Village safer, healthier and equitable for all. There will be multiple opportunities to provide feedback in addition to the Community Walkshop. For the latest information about the project, visit www.engageoakpark.com/visionzero.
All-electric building seminar planned – Learn from experts about designing for greater building energy performance – and the financial and technical assistance programs offered for commercial and residential new construction and major renovation. The Pathways to Creating an All-Electric Building workshop hosted by the Village is for anyone interested in transitioning their building or home away from natural gas and towards a fully electrified building. The workshop will take place Thurs., Oct. 5, with a webinar offered from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and an in-person session held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Oak Park Public Library’s Maze Branch, 845 Gunderson Ave. Find more information and register for the webinar or in-person workshop on the Sustain Oak Park website – click here to view.
Language access listening session at Tacos ’76 – The Village’s series of Hispanic Heritage Month events continues with a language access listening session planned for 6 p.m. on Wed., Oct. 4 at Tacos ’76, 838 Madison St. Community members are invited to join the Village’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the discussion about the Village’s language access needs at Village Hall and other municipal facilities. For more information about all of the Village’s Hispanic Heritage Month, visit www.oak-park.us/HispanicHeritage.
Free COVID-19 tests available – This week the federal government resumed its program to send free rapid COVID-19 tests directly to homes through the mail. Residential households can order one set of four free at-home tests by filling out this online form. Orders will ship free starting the week of Oct. 2. Oak Park public health officials encourage residents to take advantage of this program, as testing is one way to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community this fall and winter. If you need additional rapid tests, they are available for free from the Oak Park Public Health Department. Requests to have tests mailed to your home by the Heath Department can also be made online – click here to request free tests. Community members can also pick up free tests for their household at Village Hall, 123 Madison St, during regular business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Village parking garage repair project set to begin – Customers utilizing the Village’s Holley Court and Avenue parking garages will notice construction activities beginning the week of Oct. 1. On that date, Village contractors will begin a multi-year maintenance repair project that also includes work at the Village-owned community parking structure at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Construction activities at the OPRF garage will primarily occur next year when school is not in session. The repair and improvement project is intended to extend the useful life of the public parking garages by addressing any deterioration or distress that has been identified. Customers are reminded to pay close attention to posted signage as intermittent closures of certain areas of the garages may be necessary during the project.
New on-street parking pay stations – Twenty-eight new solar-powered parking pay stations will be deployed throughout the community in the coming weeks. This new equipment is the result of the Village’s multi-year effort to phase out the majority of traditional coin parking meters. In addition to paying for parking via a pay station, all spaces are integrated with the Park Oak Park mobile app, allowing Oak Park customers to pay for parking via their mobile device. From an equity perspective, pay stations are necessary to ensure that users with limited or no access to technology and/or electronic payment are still able to utilize public parking.
Leaf collection still one month away – The Village's annual fall leaf collection program is scheduled to begin on Oct. 30 and run through Dec. 8. Residents are asked to please refrain from raking leaves into the street before the start date and to inform landscape services of the collection schedule. More information about leaf collection is at www.oak-park.us/2023leaves. In the meantime, Public Works crews are sweeping streets at night in advance of leaf collection. Residents are reminded that overnight parking on Village streets is prohibited for non-designated paid permit holders unless an overnight parking pass has been reserved through the Park Oak Park or Passport Parking app. More information about overnight parking is at www.oak-park.us/parkingpass.
Employee news – Fire Department Deputy Chief Joseph Terry recently received the Illinois Professional Emergency Managers (IPEM) accreditation from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security in Springfield. The three-year accreditation is a cumulation of education, extensive training and leadership positions in an exercise or real-world disaster. In other employee news, Ammar Eshac, a Property Maintenance Community Development Inspector within the Development Customer Services Department, recently passed his International Code Council exam and earned his property maintenance and housing inspector certificate. To pass the exam, Ammar spent time studying and familiarizing himself with building codes, housing inspection procedures and performing code enforcement. Elsewhere, the Public Works Department welcomed Gonzalo Mandujano as a new Water & Sewer Worker. Gonzalo has previous experience working for the Village of Lincolnwood’s Streets and Utilities Department.
First responders train with school officials – Representatives from the Oak Park Fire and Police Departments spent two days at Oak Park River Forest High School this week for joint training sessions with leadership from District 97 and District 200. This multi-agency collaboration focused on how to properly respond in the event of an active shooter incident and the reunification of students and families. This table-top training was provided by the University of Illinois Fire Science Academy (IFSI).
Hispanic Heritage Month lunch & learn – Approximately 40 Village staff members participated in a Hispanic Heritage Month lunch and learn for Village employees held this week at Village Hall. Frank Lipo from the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest presented information about Latinx history in Oak Park during the event, which was part of a series of staff events taking place during Hispanic Heritage Month.
HPC commissioner helps create exclusionary housing exhibit – Sarah Doherty, Historic Preservation Commissioner and Associate Professor of U.S. & Public History at North Park University, was a core researcher, writer and creator of Unvarnished, an online exhibition and curriculum guide on the history of exclusionary housing practices. Unvarnished recently won an Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). The project explored the history of exclusionary housing practices through the work of five museums and one cultural group that studied these practices in their home communities. Dr. Doherty worked with Frank Lipo of the Oak Park River Forest Museum in using Oak Park as a case study. Dr. Doherty has been co-leading professional development workshops for middle school and high school social studies teachers throughout Illinois, as well as providing a workshop at the AASLH conference on using the Unvarnished curriculum guide to teach inclusive history. Unvarnished can be viewed at www.unvarnishedhistory.org.
Oak Park Sculpture Walk featured on WGN-TV – Camille Wilson White, Executive Director of the Oak Park Area Arts Council, was a guest on WGN-TV’s Spotlight Chicago on Wednesday promoting the ongoing Oak Park Sculpture Walk. Click here to view the interview. Twelve sculptures are on display in an outdoor exhibit in the Downtown Oak Park business district in the vicinity of Lake Street and Marion Street. The Sculpture Walk will continue through spring 2024 and features the work of artists from throughout the Midwest. Visitors can download the free Otocast app onto their smartphones to access information about the sculptures and hear descriptions of the work by the artists.
Busy stretch for sustainability team – Staff members from the Village’s Office of Sustainability & Resilience were on hand sharing information about current programs and resources at the Village’s Hispanic Heritage Month roundtable discussion Thursday at the Oak Park Public Library. Staff also recently participated in the monthly meeting of the community-led Climate Ready Community Outreach to Oak Park (COOP) group, presented at the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus quarterly meeting of the Advanced Building Energy Efficiency Policies Task Force and attended the OPRF Chamber of Commerce’s BIPOC affinity group meeting.
Community sustainability events – Information about upcoming sustainability events in the community can be found on the Village’s Sustain Oak Park website at www.sustainoakpark.com/community-events. Upcoming events include a children’s Halloween costume swap running from Oct. 1-12 at the Oak Park Public Library, an Oct. 3 webinar about best practices for curbing water use in landscaping and a Chicago Wilderness Alliance event on Oct. 5 focusing on the challenges facing oak trees in a volatile and changing climate.
Cook County launches residential solar program – The Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability has launched a new program through which income-qualified residences and homeowners in Cook County can receive installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at no cost. Titled the Cook County Sun and Save program, the initiative was created in partnership with the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC). Find more information, including eligibility requirements, at www.smartenergy.illinois.edu/sunandsave/customer.
Nationwide test of public alert system planned - A national test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is planned for approximately 1:20 p.m. on Wed., Oct. 4. Coordinated by FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the test will reach millions of mobile phones across the country via Wireless Emergency Alerts, radio and television via the Emergency Alert System, and other communications pathways. If your mobile phone is on and within range of an active cell tower from a participating wireless provider, you should receive the national test. More information is available on the FEMA website – click here to view.
Tree pruning planned – Crews will be working next week to wrap up tree pruning work left over from last winter. Contractors expect to begin tree trimming on the 100-300 blocks of S. Maple Ave. from Monday through Wednesday before moving to the 300-400 blocks of Wisconsin Ave. next Thursday and Friday. They will continue to move east toward Oak Park Avenue, pruning trees between Madison Street and South Boulevard. Residents are urged to move their cars from the streets when temporary no-parking signs go up to help ensure the trees are pruned quickly and safely. More information about parkway tree maintenance is at www.oak-park.us/trees.
Street resurfacing project – Tree protection and root pruning is complete at all locations scheduled for street resurfacing this fall, and contractors have removed sidewalk and curb at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Scoville Avenue as well as along Augusta Street, Greenfield Street, Cuyler Avenue and Berkshire Street. Pavement removals for bump outs, curbs and sidewalks are ongoing with framing and prepping for proposed curbs planned for next week, weather permitting. Meanwhile, sod replacement for the 2022 resurfacing project that carried over to this summer is underway and expected to continue into next week.
Water and sewer improvements – With the installation of new sewer pipe at the intersection of Hayes Avenue and Augusta Street now complete, Augusta is partially open to traffic in both directions. Initial work for the second phase of the water main project that will occur on Euclid Avenue from Lake Street to South Boulevard is expected to begin the first week of October. Affected residents and businesses in the alley south of Lake Street have been notified. Businesses will receive advance notice prior to any disruption to alley access, and parking passes are being issued to impacted residents. Work on this phase of the project is expected to continue into mid to late November.
Sidewalk improvements – Rainy weather slowed down planned sidewalk repairs, but half the project is still on target to be wrapped up by the end of the week. The contractor expects to begin removals for the second next week. The focus for this year’s project is sidewalks on east-west streets in the south half of the Village.
Forest and Ontario improvements – The electric contractor is pouring light pole foundations, and brick and concrete removal continues around the intersection of Forest Avenue and Ontario Street. The area is closed to through traffic and multiple sidewalk routes are closed through the site. Next steps include concrete replacement and brick work.
Pete’s Fresh Market update – AT&T crews mobilized at the site of the new Pete’s Fresh Market on Madison Street to begin approximately five weeks of utility work. ComEd’s utility work will continue through next week. Final restoration work for the site is scheduled for the first or second week of October.
Division Street improvements – Sod placement and parkway restoration along Division Street is underway and expected to continue through next week. Pavement marking installation remains delayed but is expected to occur sometime in the next few weeks.
Miscellaneous construction updates – Sewer cleaning and inspection began this week, with crews starting in locations in the northeast part of town. Meanwhile, the contractor for this year’s alley improvement project continues to work through punchlist items and other corrective work.