Let's can the studies and maintain Riverside
Riverside has managed to preserve a fair semblance of its unique character for more than a century, despite the efforts of those misguided souls who want to change it. But now, with the TOD study financed by a Metra grant, the so-called "experts" seem to feel duty-bound to come up with some plan for the so-called Central Business District that will make it more like every place else. Our tranquil island, afloat in a sea of mediocrity, is now in peril.
Riverside was never intended to in any way become a magnet to draw people here. The downtown was designed as a service core, one which used to provide a variety of services for the residents. Many of those businesses are no longer here because they were simply not viable. They would be less so in new, more expensive buildings.
When I hear well-intentioned people talk about wanting hardware stores or high-end retailers?"even a boutique hotel?"to come to Riverside, it makes me wonder what planet these people are on. Small commercial spaces with no through traffic or parking are unlikely to result in sustainable businesses, especially when so many of our own residents drive to Wal-Mart, Costco, Home Depot or Oakbrook to do their shopping.
Previously, people moved here because they treasured Riverside's unique ambiance, valued the quiet winding streets that tended to keep traffic out, loved the trees and parks and wildlife and natural beauty and all the other things that make it so pleasant. They weren't looking to bring more people here, but rather to keep it pure.
Now it seems the potential for profit in tearing down, building and selling a bigger house or slapping up out-of-scale commuter condos has attracted buyers with a different attitude, even as over-bright electric lights have replaced some of the historic gas lamps. Now, more and more signs proliferate and the village administration seems bound and determined to alter what remains.
The "experts" hired to guide this study talk of 160-200 new condominiums. Don't they understand that Riverside's home values are now spiraling upward because Riverside is being perceived to be a fine place to live as it is?
In Riverside, unlike most suburbs, residential values are much higher than commercial property precisely because it is a village primarily of single-family homes. Lining the tracks with condos and building multilevel parking garages for people who don't like to walk isn't going to change that.
It would be great if local merchants and property owners would agree to improve the look of their spaces, but who will pay for it? More taxation won't help them, it will just increase their costs and force them to raise their prices and become even less competitive.
Frank Lloyd Wright said that nothing good ever came from a committee. Eagles don't flock, Olmsted's vision still works. Instead of hungering to create an ultra mini-Highland Park that will be an economic fiasco, we should concentrate our efforts in organizing our property owners to spruce up what we have, invest more in the health of our trees and the upkeep of our parks, and just let things develop naturally. Sometimes less is more.
Lyons simply relocating, not banning fishermen
I feel compelled to respond to David Moreau's letter regarding prohibiting fishing at the Lyons Riverwalk ("Can Lyons prohibit fishing from Riverwalk?" LETTERS, June 15).
I found it absurd that Mr. Moreau would complain about Lyons when he is from Riverside and the Village of Riverside does not allow fishing at all on its side of the river, either north or south of the bridge.
The Village of Lyons has simply asked the fishermen to move to the north side of the bridge after numerous incidents of urinating in the fountain and half-dressed folks getting all boozed up, leaving garbage, fish guts and whatever else they want behind.
The only intelligent point Mr. Moreau makes is his reference to the Hofmann River Rats. This is a very fine group of people who have contributed greatly to the river, its fish and many clean-up efforts. Unfortunately, not one single group can monitor this situation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Finally, I must take Mr. Moreau to task for suggesting "an unholy alliance with nearby developers" who want " an unfettered view of the river."
Reckless and false accusations have no part in the newspaper, even in the opinion pages. I personally have sent my work crews into the river no less than six times in the last two years, at no taxpayer expense, to help clean up the river.
Lyons is a diamond in the rough, with a great location and natural resources, and is improving on a daily basis. Improvement and change sometimes ruffles some feathers, but that's the price of progress.
Michael J. Slinkman
? Michael Slinkman is president and owner of the Riverwalk Condominiums in Lyons.