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What Do You Think About the State of Oak Forest?

Resident provided city and other local officials with a laundry list of strengths, opportunities for improvements and threats Oak Forest is facing. Tell us in the comments which ones you agree with or offer your own.

Residents offering the following issues, topics and concerns Tuesday night during the 's first Strategic Planning Initiative meeting. The ones in bold represent most of the ones re-emphasized by those in attendance after the meeting. Attendees were given stickers to place by the ones they were the most concerned about.

Tell us what concerns you the most and what you like best about Oak Forest. 

Strengths

  • Bike trail
  • Schools
  • Park district
  • Family-oriented
  • Shopping
  • Religious representation
  • Sense of security
  • Low crime
  • Close to forest preserves
  • Sense of neighborhood
  • Location from Chicago
  • Transportation
  • Great access to expressways
  • Concerned mayor and city council

Opportunities

  • Businesses
  • Sidewalks
  • Lighting
  • Street Repair
  • Security at the Metra lot (access, not handicap friendly)
  • Traffic safety at 159th and Cicero
  • Traffic pattern review needed on 159th and Cicero
  • Traffic study needed (multiple lanes, make light longer for turn lane)
  • Timing and Signals
  • Enforcement of the laws in Oak Forest and police presence
  • Speed limits
  • Vacant retail operations—Need more businesses
  • Articulation/intervention for businesses
  • Need consistency with planning (across administrations)
  • Recognize the economy
  • Leadership in recognizing resource/economy
  • Want an actionable plan
  • Borrow good ideas from other cities
  • Flooding
  • Burial of power lines
  • Growth
  • Consistent 5 and 20 year economic development plan (Long range plan for growth, revenues, expenditures)
  • Guidelines for businesses
  • Status of train station/property
  • Housing/retail (specifically around Metra station) transit-orientated development
  • Oak Forest Hospital, status of
  • Senior residence?
  • Retail development (theater, roller rink, pool, coffee shop)
  • Need more youth programs
  • Industrial park opportunity
  • Articulate with community development coordinator
  • Intergovernmental cooperation & agreement 

Threats

  • Vacant homes
  • Litigation against the city
  • Employment contracts
  • Minimize government intervention/regulation
  • Fear of raising taxes
  • Taxes for services that support development & Human services
  • 1 percent retail tax, add-on tax, won’t attract new business
  • City to City tax differences
  • Foreclosed house
  • Residents not supporting businesses (if not here, because of foreclosed homes)
  • Failure to attract new business
  • Number of banks
  • Limit on liquor licenses
  • Higher crime rate from bordering communities
  • Safety of our children
  • Number of calls for OFPD/OFFD to apartment buildings (stats on this)
  • Services being targeted areas where the transient population lives
  • Purchasing power
  • Concerned about smart meters coming to Oak Forest
Nick Swedberg June 07, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Just wanted to thank everyone for keeping civil. I appreciate everyone's opinions on this matter.
phxdr June 07, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Chuck- Well clearly most of the taxpayers of OF are ok with higher taxes. I will have to stand down then. Clearly they are ok with OF saying it is trying to attract new business while also increasing the sales tax, which really will have a impact on attracting new businesses. The residents are clearly ok with the city spending 165K for a property that the city is gambling on with taxpayer money. One can only hope that this property will equal the success of the gateway project and all the money invested in that (and even money wasted on the building of a 200K sign and torn down). As I stated before, the property is not worth 700K or whatever number was thrown out there. If it was worth that the seller (the bank) would have been asking the said amount. I really offer my apologies. This whole time I have been blaming the council for what you all have been doing when in reality it rests with the people for not demanding better government. I can only hope that the same residents who remain silent, give the council pat on the backs are happy when they open their property tax bills. I hope they are happy with the businesses that have moved out of OF (such as capital nutrition), or gone under. I hope they are happy with the vacant buildings and the promise that city investment in the gateway project would turn things around. "In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve." Alexis de Tocqueville
Tired of the B.S. June 12, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I think it is sad that there are over 200 comments on the gay marriage story and less than 40 comments on the state of Oak Forest. I wish more people were more concerned with the city going down the drain than who marries who.
Brian June 12, 2012 at 05:41 PM
BINGO. I agree 100% on this. Engagement on fluff stories, sports stories, caption the comic, and national social issues, are huge here. Engagement on Local News with the exception of a tragic/feelgood story is usually small in comparison. I think many issues of the city are the officials doing, but blame should be cast on citizens of Oak Forest for not asking in depth hard questions of their leaders. COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION .... this is truly the biggest issue I see. This day in age, there is no reason why the city can't provide near-realtime information on things like water-main breaks, traffic blockages, major fires, activity of public works crews, mosquito/gypsy moth spraying, etc.
chuck toland June 12, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Brian, I think a lot of people do ask these hard questions, but they do it by calling their aldermen or the Mayor. I am always willing to answer questions on this site, and I am happy to answer questions in person. I get 5-10 questions a week on email or the phone. I meet with residents at their houses. I fully beleive in giving the residents as much information as possible. We get weekly reports on the topics you mention, but we cannot just publish the weekly reports because there is sometimes confidential issues. That is why we use the weekly newsletter to get a lot of the information you talk about out to the public. You can sign up for the weekly newsletter or you can be added to your alderman's email list by requesting it. If you want to be added to either or both, send me an email at ctoland@oak-forest.org.

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