Progress is hard to miss in downtown Oak Park these days. Block by block, new buildings and businesses are sprouting up. And new types of structures, designed around the wants and needs of modern consumers. These new projects are also the culmination of years of work by local policymakers to attract new residents and businesses to our village’s downtown, which Oak Park Trustee Adam Salzman says is “not living up to its highest, best use right now.”
But change is never easy, of course. Construction inevitably means short-term parking challenges. And ultimately, these projects undoubtedly will mark the start — like it or not — of a new era for downtown Oak Park, which is about to see an influx of new residents. Also, with downtown development humming, Salzman says the village is now expected to focus its energies on two other business districts: Madison Street and the Arts District.
Originally elected in 2011, Salzman is part of village board’s new guard. Like Trustee Andrea Button Ott, he’s an attorney with a young family who’s championing bold initiatives designed to create long-term sustainability for the village. I recently sat down with Salzman at the Oak Park Library to discuss these issues and more. I hope you enjoy our conversation.