Last night at the library . . .

. . . it was forum #2 featuring the two candidates for village board president, sitting board member John Hedges and Oak Park Avenue restaurateur Anan Abu-Taleb. Let’s take it from the start.

Anan A-T: We have to change perceptions of Oak Park among developers. They see OP as “undecided,” too fussy and hard to deal with. A developer has to move fast. “I speak their language,” am aware of the importance of “cash flow.” OP has its “head in the sand” about this problem, should take a “more aggressive” sales approach.

John Hedges: We develop in Oak Park “for the community, not for the developer.” In Oak Park a project requires “a lot of input” from citizens. “We cannot [simply] give the developer his way.”

A: Yes, we are different in Oak Park, as John H. said, but we have to show OP’s value to the developer. (sell him) Village Hall is “not a friendly place” (from which to do the selling). We need business people on the board (who know the ropes in this matter).

(Dan Haley, Wed. Journal publisher, forum moderator, asks for details.)

A: Some developers go through 20 meetings without a go-ahead, when five should be enough. The board itself has too many meetings — 73 last year alone. “We need a nimble process.”

H: We have processes in place (for approving development). (Haley to A: Which processes would you remove?)

A: Most of them. (The too-many-hoops objection here.)

H: It doesn’t work that way in Oak Park. (applause from packed Veteran’s Room auditorium on 2nd floor of public library) We take a very aggressive approach (to attract business and developers). Berwyn (neighboring community to the south) can do what it does on Roosevelt Road (the dividing street) because they have TIF money (special share of tax revenues for development). (In any case) we do not look at the situation as competing with Berwyn (or Forest Park to the west and south).

(Crucial issue here: In a competitive environment, not to compete?)

H, continuing: Businesses want to come to Oak Park. Commercial real estate broker David King’s phone “is ringing all the time” with callers wanting to move to Oak Park. But Oak Park “is not a nimble community.”

A: In Forest Park and Berwyn, there is “synergy” with businesses, “vitality.” (Flexibility?) In Oak Park, there’s a “one-size-fits-all” standard. (Rigidity?)

. . . more more more . . . to come . . .

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  • Jim Bowman  On March 14, 2013 at 6:04 AM

    Reblogged this on Blithe Spirit and commented:

    Ongoing coverage of the Oak Park (IL) village board president’s race before the April 9 election day . . .

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