Dozens Attend Oak Lawn Visioning Workshop

View Second Phase of 95th St. Corridor

Southwest Suburban News-Herald

Friday, June 07, 2013

Dozens of people attended the second of three public information meetings on the 95th Street Corridor held May 30 at the Village Hall, 9446 S. Raymond Ave. At what was called a “public visioning workshop,” residents were invited to give feedback on the improvements needed on 95th Street between Pulaski Road and Harlem Avenue.

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is heading up the project, and funding 80 percent of it, with Oak Lawn paying for the remainder. The project is divided into three parts — economic development, streetscapes and transportation — and three stations were set up in the meeting room, with representatives of the three agencies involved to explain the details.

The displays included maps and photos of what is on 95th Street now (see picture at right: Jodi Mariano of Teska Associates speaking), and designs of possible additions or improvements, and residents who signed in were each given five $5 bills in play money to deposit in envelopes titled with their prime concerns.

Suggestions could also be jotted down on sticky notes and applied to the maps. Suggested improvements included bringing certain new shops and restaurants to the thoroughfare, or building parking garages, adding alley parking or traffic calming devices or street closures. The addition of new signage, street improvements, or a civic plaza were also among the suggested areas of improvement, along with safer pedestrian crossings, bike routes and landscaping.

“We already have a committee. I’m here to listen, as a village manager. I will spend my money as a resident,” said Village Manager Larry Deetjen, holding up his play money, “but I am mainly here to listen,” he added, before sitting down to chat with residents during the gathering. “I love to see the influx of new faces,” he said, noting that many of the participants are not the same ones who come to the Tuesday night Village Board meetings.

Carole Nemec, a mother of two preschoolers, suggested more family-oriented businesses along the street. She said an indoor splash-pool, with a coffee bar for parents would be nice.

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re very happy with the way the village is now, but more people should come out to talk about how we can make it better,” she said.

“Progress is always good,” said Pat Ryan, who added that giving resident input was a good idea. She said that as an avid walker, she would like to see “alleyscapes” created or improved behind the businesses on 95th Street. “I already walk everywhere, but we don’t want to walk on 95th Street,” said Ryan, who has lived in Oak Lawn since 1963.

The third public meeting has not been set yet, but Jodi Mariano, a landscape architect with Teska Associates, a community planning firm involved in the project, said officials will be compiling the comments and suggestions gathered from residents before any decisions are made. She said residents still have time to read up on the details, take a survey and leave feedback on the 95th Street Corridor Web site at

“We have not drafted any proposals yet. We want to hear from you,” said Mariano.