Finding our place in a changing Riverside

Opinion

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Judy Baar Topinka

Now that my neighbors, the Mikls, have a brand new addition on their house which looks absolutely wonderful, not to mention roomy ... And now that just about every house on my block has had some kind of renovation put to it, sprucing up older buildings and brightening the neighborhood ... And now that I notice my old house on Desplaines Avenue is getting a brand new second floor in order to expand the amount of living space ...

It starts me thinking that maybe I ought to be doing something to my variated bungalow other than putting on a new coat of paint and a new roof.

Riverside is certainly changing, and I suppose I can make arguments either way?"that the change modernizes the village or ruins its traditional look.

Where the Pure Oil gas station once stood at Delaplaine and Burlington, there is now a multi-storied townhome complex coming together and just about ready for sales. Condos and townhomes are the big thing right now just about everywhere, Chicago is full of them with more coming daily. I guess Riverside and the surrounding suburbs are just following suit. This particular townhome complex is especially large and bulky, looking quite a big like a squared off Ames School. It seems to overpower everything around it due to its size.

Although my lifestyle would probably be more suited to a condominium rather than a house, I recall my mother, Lillian Baar the Realtor, always saying: "Own the dirt!" Indeed, I have to have a backyard so I can see some green around me. Living in a high-rise condo would definitely give me a nosebleed.

And, without a yard, where would I grow my strange plants?"the tomato plant which has green tomatoes that will never turn red in time to beat the winter, the poke weed which is now about 12-feet tall and 5-feet wide but masquerades as a rubber tree, the moon flowers which are spreading everywhere and the milkweed which is getting ready to pop its pods so as to infect the entire neighborhood again?

However, there is nothing greater than looking out through my glass sliding doors and into the backyard every day to see the birds and the squirrels coming to feed, sadly with two domestic parakeets among them, one turquoise, one white, who will probably not live through the winter. I'd also miss the times at night, when Mollie McDoo the scottie alerts me to look out to see one to five raccoons stopping by to visit. One can't get that in a condo,

I even enjoy the low-flying aircraft on their way to Midway Airport, watching the blinking lights and wondering where the plane had been. Is it bringing people home or folks coming to visit? The trains, too, would be more interesting if they did not block the intersections so often, making traffic impassible and causing never-ending backups. I have come to avoid Harlem Avenue whenever possible.

The teardowns will keep coming as young people move to the village and seek amenities which older homes cannot provide. Things do change, and change is inevitable.

I feel sorry for the Riverside trustees who have to find some kind of balance. Sadly, no matter what they do, people will find fault. I trust them to do their best in getting Riverside fully into the 21st Century.

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