Wednesday Journal of OP&RF, March 1, 2006
Watching the Oak Park village board on TV, you see people walking on eggs with each other, except when Martha Brock has to take a breather, and then there’s nothing to do but watch Robert Milstein’s hair grow. Isn’t it time to translate for them and help them tell it straight?
Take the Board Majority (please) in the matter of buying the Baltimore Colt building for us at the low, low price of $5 million, plus maybe another building for $2.5 mill. Wouldn’t it be a relief for all concerned to let it all hang out, as they say in therapy? Let’s do it, citing nay-sayers and then reporting what the Board Majority-Milstein, Elizabeth Brady, Brock, and Geoff Baker-can’t say.
The Baltimore Colt decision-the building really was named after the Colts a long time ago-gives a "blank check" for historic preservation, says down-with-Colt Trustee Ray Johnson. "When I heard ‘History Matters,’ I didn’t realize they meant ‘at all costs.’"
Board Majority: You weren’t listening!
"I don’t know where this is going," said Johnson. "I’ve asked the question, and you don’t get an answer; you get blank stares."
BM: We’re tired!
Pro-Colt trustees listened only to "the few extremists" in their New Leadership Party, said Ed Baehrend, owner of a Wright-designed house.
BM: Hey. If it’s not moving, preserve it!
"Why anyone would bother to participate in another lengthy process," when consultant, steering committee, and developer have all struck out, escapes Jon Hale, of Forum Oak Park.
BM: Hey. We’re Oak Park and they’re not! Do they want our business or don’t they?
"Rebuilding the Colt building would represent ... a dogmatic, single-minded focus on historical preservation at any cost," said the Business and Civic Council.
BM: We don’t care!
A new 10-step process for issuing the Colt-rehab and other requests for proposal (RFP) "need not be burdensome or consume an inordinate amount of time," said President David Pope, pouring oil on troubled waters.
BM: You have a problem with burdensome and inordinate?
The BM kissed off the superblock citizen committee months ago, tipping their hand, says Jon Hale, of Forum Oak Park.
BM: You don’t get it. We don’t want no stinking committee advice! Let them put their stinking advice where the sun don’t shine!
The citizen committee’s plan was delivered after months of listening to citizens, developer Taxman’s architect, and village-hired experts on traffic, development and historic preservation, reported Wednesday Journal.
BM: How many times do we have to say we don’t want no stinking committee advice?!
Meanwhile, the BM has a trick or two up its sleeve in the contest being enacted before our very eyes on TV sets and at village hall. Consider recent public remarks and letter to the editor by BM member Milstein-and, if you don’t mind, piquant responses by my friend Jake (not his real name), who has been pestering for recognition.
Milstein urges us "to rescue [by use of eminent domain power] areas of Oak Park [held] hostage for multiple decades."
"I’ve got just the bozos for you," says Jake. "As soon as you’re ready, let me know. I want to help."
He would like "an architectural contest."
"No, no, no, no," says Jake. "Let’s have a musical. One of us can be Judy, I’ll be Mickey, the other kids can be lots of other people. Somewhere there’s an old barn and ..." (I shut him up.)
He wants a definitive idea of what’s best for Marion Street.
"This one I like," says Jake, who adds that he has spent his entire life looking for a definitive idea of something and is willing to pursue this goal "or at least watch others pursue it."
That’s it, then. Pretty good day for me. I liberated village trustees from cramped board-meeting style. I got Jake off my back. Where Jake goes next is anybody’s guess. Same goes for the trustees, I suppose.