In the Summer 2006 Olmsted Society newsletter, the “Letter from the President” creates the impression that the village and its elected officials have forgotten that Riverside is a special place.

While it may be viewed as unfortunate, change is inevitable. The goal of this village and its Board of Trustees is to manage that change effectively to preserve our great heritage while at the same time accommodate orderly growth and redevelopment.

Allow me to take this opportunity to once again invite an open dialogue on the ongoing planning efforts made by the village for the betterment and preservation of Riverside, its national historic landmark status and the future. The village has conducted several open meetings and workshops on these subjects. Many more opportunities for open and healthy discussion will occur in the future. Unfortunately, the society’s publication seems to ignore the village’s many successful efforts to gather input from our citizens to guide us through these changing times.

Riverside, recognized worldwide for its original Olmsted design, will be served well by the following accomplishments:

2003

New zoning for the central business district was adopted by the village board focused on quality development and serving modern needs of the community and its residents. The issue of high density is carefully addressed in this zoning to reflect the melded views of the community.

Extensive review processes by the Preservation Commission, Landscape Advisory Commission and Plan Commission are in place to ensure our central business district reshapes over time into a more productive and attractive area. Many of these provisions benefited from the considerable input from our citizens during the workshops and open meetings held on these subjects.

2005

A comprehensive revision of the residential zoning code was adopted by the village board. As a result of endless hours of discussion and public debate among our citizens and the elected trustees, regulations are now in place to address complexities caused by irregular lot sizes and curvilinear streets and to help protect our community from low-quality profiteers while ensuring responsible redevelop in the future.

These regulations were sent to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the National Park Service for comment and input prior to adoption.

2006

A demolition review ordinance was adopted which mandates that every structure that is proposed for teardown/redevelopment is reviewed by the Preservation Commission to identify if it is a worthy landmark structure. If it is worthy, efforts will be made to preserve the structure by submitting it for landmark designation.

Riverside is one of only a few Chicago suburbs to adopt such an ordinance. This groundbreaking ordinance is already being copied by other communities for adoption. It is expected that this review process will discourage low-quality builders from working in Riverside, will provide a process for preserving our architectural gems and will allow an orderly rejuvenation of our housing stock.

Have we accomplished everything? No. The Plan Commission does have on its agenda building construction regulation revisions. They have made this a priority and would like to send their recommendations to the village board by the end of the year. These should improve the village’s authority to deal with construction practices which negatively affect our neighborhoods or public lands.

Are some of our building fees outdated? Probably, yes. The fees related to the Building Department and associated impacts on the public facilities are reviewed periodically. Recommendations are expected to be sent to the village board for consideration by the end of the year. As revenue shortages continue to challenge the village, we will not leave this course of action until our expenses are being fully addressed.

I am disappointed that this publication leaves the impression that village government is not making every effort to maintain and update the community while respecting its values and history. We all are about this village. Let’s work together to deal with the reality of redevelopment.

On behalf of the village Board of Trustees, let me assure all our citizens that we welcome constructing input on all these issues from everyone because together we can preserve the valuable elements of our heritage and build an even better community for the future.

Harold J. Wiaduck Jr. is the Riverside village president.