Public Watchdog.org

Economic Development Requires Diagnosis, Not Quackery

03.19.13

When people visit a doctor with a health problem, they expect a diagnosis of the problem before the doctor starts prescribing a treatment or cure.  That’s because in medicine, like in so many other areas of life, you can’t come up with an effective treatment or cure until you’ve figured out the problem.

Unfortunately, in politics the opposite is often the case – as we saw last Wednesday afternoon at the mayoral candidates’ debate held by the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce.  Not surprisingly for a business group, the main topic of the debate was business, specifically retail…and why Park Ridge doesn’t have more of it.

Mayor Dave Schmidt made it clear that he wants more retail, while at the same time pointing out that retail has picked up over the past four years by about 25%, as reflected in the approximately $1 million increase in annual sales tax revenue.  He also talked about the burdens of an Uptown TIF which, contrary to what its proponents promised back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has turned into an economic black hole so deep that the City might never recoup the $40 million-plus that it borrowed to finance the City’s portions of the project, even if the TIF is extended beyond its intended 23 years.

The chief culprits and apologists for that TIF debacle?  Former mayors Ron Wietecha, Mike Marous and Howard Frimark, who have endorsed challenger Larry Ryles for mayor.  And the Chamber of Commerce itself, whose members clamored for something, anything, that might juice their own businesses with little regard for the consequences on the entire community.

At last Wednesday’s debate, Ryles – as he has done throughout this campaign season – showed how he is like a doctor writing all sorts of feel-good prescriptions without bothering to make any diagnosis.

He reiterated his promise to become “the face of economic development in Park Ridge” and to “sell Park Ridge” at local and national conventions, using tools like a promotional DVD.  Reinforcing his “heart and hugs” platform, he talked about making existing businesses feel “appreciated” with “just a hug and a handshake.”

If that sounds vague and silly to you, join the club.

What it’s lacking is a “diagnosis” of what, if anything, is “wrong” with Park Ridge that is preventing the kind of retail this community wants from coming here – assuming anybody has even bothered to figure out exactly what kind of retail that is.

Ryles sure hasn’t, unless his website’s display of the logos of Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Ann Tayor, Clarks and GameStop are his oblique attempt to do so.  All he’s been actually talking about are unspecified “local brands” and “national brands,” which apparently leaves out unspecified “international brands” and “intergalactic brands.”

But we digress.

What, if anything, is so “wrong” with Park Ridge that desirable retailers avoid us – and why should we believe that it can be cured with “just a hug and a handshake”?

Is there something inherently “wrong” with the old Napleton property on Greenwood between Busse and Northwest Highway – or is the problem with Park Ridge generally?  That’s a decent-sized parcel right across from the Jewel that’s been vacant for a couple of years, apparently with no interest from any notable retailers.  Could “just a hug and a handshake” turn that parcel into thriving retail?

Is there something inherently “wrong” with the former Napleton site at Northwest Highway and Meacham, just west of Trader Joe’s and the Uptown complex – or is the problem with Park Ridge generally?  And let’s ask the same question about the Mr. K’s Garden Center property just east of the Big Ten headquarters on Higgins, which has been rumored to be on the block for the past several years but where nothing seems to be happening, either.  Could “just a hug and a handshake” change that?

Even smaller existing space hasn’t proved a big draw.  The former Dominic’s Kitchen Store at 116 Main St., a decent-sized space, has been vacant for the two years since Park Ridge native Dominic Cimilluca closed his doors and filed for bankruptcy because his specialty store “just didn’t get the support we needed from the locals” – according to a 03.16.11 story in the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate.  “We love Park Ridge.  We love the people.  It’s just a hard place to do business,” Cimilluca said.

Not surprisingly (at least to us), Dominic voiced no complaints about City government being “unfriendly” to business, so that takes away one of the convenient scapegoats.

Could “just a hug and a handshake” have saved Dominic’s?

Ten years ago all we heard was that Park Ridge couldn’t attract desirable new retail until it had the kind of space the new Uptown project was going to provide, and which would reinvigorate the entire area and turn all of Uptown into a “vibrant” commercial and retail mecca.  We were told going $40 million in the hole (with bonded debt) was a small price to pay for all the benefits that would flow from the TIF and the project.

That was a prescription without a diagnosis.  And as an economic “cure,” it has turned out to be the equivalent of trying to cure lung cancer by applying a dozen leeches to the patient’s ankle – leeches that not only won’t cure the disease but which will keep sucking up millions of taxpayer dollars for years to come.

Mayor Schmidt seems to be advocating a measured wait-and-see approach based on an overall economic recovery, although we think he’s off-base when he talks about the City hiring another economic development person.  He’s dead-on, however, when he notes that Whole Foods found its new site at Washington and Touhy despite the City Council’s rejection of WF’s request for over $2 million of tax revenue sharing, and without even any City official offering “just a hug and a handshake.”

What did Whole Foods see in Park Ridge that other retailers haven’t seen?

While Schmidt hasn’t offered a specific answer, Ryles doesn’t seem to have a clue.  But that hasn’t stopped him from writing a flurry of “prescriptions” while still not offering a credible “diagnosis” of what, if anything, ails Park Ridge in its quest for more and better retail.

There’s a name for doctors who do that.

Quacks.

To read or post comments, click on title.

 

53 comments so far

Lovely! Based on your post, we get to pick between a quack, and a guy who has had four years and come up with no prescription, has instated no plans and now wants to spend money on a position which you describe as off base.

In other words, we get to pick between a guy trying to sell something he really has not investigated or a guy who has had four years to investigate and still has no answers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That is one way to look at it.

But if that’s your view, then it’s also an indictment of the City Council which has no diagnosis (“answers” is too broad a term) but nevertheless de-funded the last economic development director position; an indictment of former City Mgr. Jim Hock, who recommended that de-funding; the Chamber of Commerce, which has offered no diagnosis other than the TIF; and the Economic Development Task Force, which studied the problem for a year and issued a report that contained no diagnosis.

Frankly, we think the diagnosis was provided, albeit a little obtusely, by Jefferson in his quote about a “wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement….” Once it provides a solid infrastructure and public safety, local government should get out of the way and let business people figure out for themselves what kind of businesses Park Ridge can profitably support.

And we offer, as Exhibit A for that theory, Whole Foods.

I do hold the council responsible for it, the topic of your post was Schmidt and Ryles. They are running for Mayor, in part, based on their ideas (or lack there of) about economic development.

As an aside, if Schmidt stated some form of what you said (just get out of the way) there might be a clear difference. He gets in his own way by saying “the business community was ignored…etc….etc…”. I clouds the issue and makes me ask if the really felt this way why did he not make more noise about it when the EDD was being eliminated.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we see it, Schmidt believes there’s no magic bullet because business people are smarter about where they can invest and make a profit than elected officials and bureaucrats, while Ryles believes he’s smarter than business people and will find ways to lure them to Park Ridge.

We have pointed out Schmidt’s error in defaulting to yet another economic development person.

You are wrong, however, about Schmidt’s not making “more noise” when Uhlig’s position was eliminated. He and several aldermen bucked Hock’s recommendation. Only after they pointedly directed him to retain Uhlig did he tell Schmidt and the Council that he already had terminated Uhlig, that he had given her a severance package (which exceeded his authority), and that she already had taken a job in Peoria.

Which was one of the many grounds cited for Hock’s termination.

Bare in mind WF is no saving grace to our economic development dillema. Sure, we may see a little bounce and jolt when they first come in. But ultimately you will see another large vacant land available at Higgins/Cumberland or Greenwood/Busse because of it. It is the nature of business, and thus again we will have to recoup the revenue that once was provided within those areas.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good point. We don’t have enough available, developable land to replace the revenue lost by our departed auto dealerships – which were basically forced out of their spaces by manufacturers who wanted larger dealerships.

So unless we get some other big-ticket retailers, or the City strikes oil on the Library block, our public officials will still have to be a lot smarter about how they spend our money and manage things to keep taxes from surging.

Not so fast on the auto dealer solution, there could have been a better plan for them. Not sure if you’ve noticed driving along highways lately the fancy, sometimes multilevel glass structures promoting shiny new cars and motorcycles….. wow the value a manufacturer sees in the visuals that Millions of highway drivers see every day….and oh what do you know Park Ridge does have parcels of retail land along a highway convienently to see and stop at.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, A9, but there’s no way in Helena, Montana that the City Zoning Code can accommodate those multi-level glass structures (e.g., Loeber, Kennedy and North Ave.). So you’re talking about a major variance or text amendment.

We’d love to hear some dealership come in with an offer, but in the abstract we just don’t see it happening – with or without Ryles’ “hug and a handshake.”

Wow did Larry just make a huge gaffe. This statement about Schmidt’s credit to the General Fund surplus is outright ludicrous!

http://parkridge.patch.com/blog_posts/larry-ryles-responds-to-david-schmidts-claim-that-park-ridge-is-back-in-the-black

EDITOR’S NOTE: No wonder he didn’t identify by name any of his crack team of “municipal finance experts” who told him that.

Park Ridge Business Problems – what follows is a list:

1> To rent/lease way more expensive than in Niles or Edison Park. Anywhere from 20% – 50% higher per month.

2> Parking – Library and new development free parking. Behind the library or next to the metra train, you have to pay.

3> Signage – the laws on the books are outdated.

4> Zoning – if you purchase a business and the city comes out to inspect at time of purchase and subsequently comes out at time of opening, the communication between those two points is lacking, inconsistent, and / or nonresponsive.

5> Traffic – Six corners needs to be improved with left turn lanes off of Northwest Highway.

6> You have two Starbucks within 2 blocks of one another and folks sit outside drinking coffee, but you can’t have a beer garden.

7> Property taxes are too high.

8> You have High School students driving nice cars, but what business in Park Ridge is geared towards High School students besides the movie theater?

There are certainly other factors but the above list is a start.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Interesting observations, but how do they explain Whole Foods, Five Guys, Potbelly’s and Chipotle – as well as the other businesses that have been open for five years or more?

The Patch “response” to Schmidt has to be an all-time boner of a response. Who the hell writes like that, much less thinks like that??

EDITOR’S NOTE: Now that the debates are over, there are no more chances for the clients to confront each other face-to-face, so this kind of stuff will become the rule rather than the exception from the Frimark…um, we mean the Ryles…camp.

What about all of the businesses that have closed?

Baked By Betsy, Tandoori’s, Chickee’s Diner, Dominic’s Kitchen, Polish Grocery on Devon, New Prospects, Walters, The Book Store on Main street, the train store on Fairfield….

EDITOR’S NOTE: What about all of the businesses that have opened?

Gumba Joe’s, Five Guys, Potbelly’s, Chipotle, Winestyles, Blue Fish, Uptown Girlz, etc….

Why is it that when something is in a positive light you give or the Mayor takes credit for it whether he was Mayor or Alderman, but when things look bad it was Councils fault when he was Mayor and it was Mayor’s fault when he was Alderman?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Like what?

I just had to pipe in here about all this talk about “teens” in PR.
The facts: A 9/12 report from Statistical Brain reports that there are 25.6 million teens in the US with a total income of $91.1 billion, and spending (by and for them) $208.7 billion. A 2009 report by the Washington State Attorney General Office reported teen consumerism nationwide in 2006 at $179 billion. (Apparently they do not know that we’ve been in a serious recession, or they think it means they should spend more?)
But here’s the rub – Anon 3:43 – teens with cars just want to get the hell out of PR! Because they can. We have 2 Starbucks in PR, but my kids and their friends went to Caffeine in Evanston, they went to the Blue Angel, or Denny’s in Mt. Prospect. They didn’t want to hang around “home” – they had a car and freedom! And shopping – before they had a car, they would take the bus to Woodfield, for god’s sake, or beg rides to Old Orchard where there are LOTS of trendy shops.
Sure, the younger ones are forced to stay around and they do go uptown (where they are not always welcomed by shop owners.)
Anyone remember the old Deep End? Did you go there once or twice? How about after you or one of the your friends got a car? So, this Teen Center? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I see lots of teens in my profession, and since this has come up I’ve been asking them about this. So far NOT ONE has ever admitted to going there, and most barely have a vague idea that it even exists.
So, although the teen consumer market is huge, and growing, it will take more than an “economic development plan” to get and keep them or their dollars here – like maybe taking away the car keys. And, without statistics, I will venture to say that the PR teens DO spend alot of money around town – at Starbucks, Potbelly, Panera, Subway, etc… until they get a car.

anon 4:14:

Gee, you noticed that too???

EDITOR’S NOTE: Noticed what?

Sometimes I wonder 50-60 years ago when the outskirts of town were being developed if it would of been better to have built more bussiness in those areas?

Maybe not the industrialization that the neighboring towns have but more shopping?

Useless to say such a thing now but it seems like we’re sure paying for being a residentual community now.

Just one example is that for the on over all perceived financial improvements the answer seems to be…”the Mayor led on that issue”….”the improvements were mainly because of him”…..almost as if even thought the vast majority of his vetos were over ridden, it was his leadership that changed the councils view of finances.

Yet if someone brings up something that the Mayor also led on but that they and some others may not find so positive (the community group funding for example) you answer by essentially saying “well you need to remember that the council voted on that and the mayor does not even have a vote”.

Both points are factual but it is what you choose to emphasis.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good! At least now we can diagnose your problem: a lack of understanding of the City’s form of government. Our prescription: local Civics 101.

Park Ridge has a city manager-form of government, or what also is known as a “weak mayor, strong council” form. That’s a legal status that binds the Mayor and the Council. It also explains why the mayor’s position, as a matter of law, is part-time and pays $12,000, while the city manager’s position is full-time and pays mid-to-high six figures.

That also explains why the mayor can’t even vote on virtually all matters, other than to break a tie, but can “vote” on matters by means of a veto. And why the mayor’s main role is to chair council meeting and to use the “bully pulpit” to engage the public and lead the council in one direction or other – based, presumably, on policy concerns.

So while the mayor can lead the council, it’s the council that decides – almost always without a vote by the mayor, other than by his after-the-fact veto – whether or not to follow that lead. And if the council doesn’t follow that lead, or sustain that veto, there’s not a darn thing the mayor can do about it.

If you don’t like that system, start a petition drive to change the City’s form of government.

Glad I could make you feel superior this morning, although I would guess you always wake up feeling that way. That is ok though, I love a good Ted Cruz lecture.

You will notice I said it was a matter of emphasis. You chose to emphasis the Mayor leading on the good things and the council voting on things that are not so popular with some folks.

Someone who is as in the bag for Ryles as you are for Schmidt could simply turn it around. They could give the council all the credit for the financial improvements (they had to vote) but Schmidt all the blame for community group funding (he clearly led on the issue).

EDITOR’S NOTE: If your comment is indicative of your interactions with other people, we’re pretty sure you contribute to increased self-esteem wherever you go – irrespective of whether or not Diane Feinstein truly is your role model.

We hold Schmidt accountable for everything he says and does, just like we do the aldermen, City Staff, and the elected and appointed officials of ALL other local public bodies. It’s just that we can’t think of one thing the Council has done over the past four years that benefits the taxpayers of Park Ridge which Schmidt didn’t “lead” on.

But if you can suggest any, feel free to do so. But try to wait until after lunch, when your morning contribution of “superiority” will have worn off.

@3:55. I think I see a pattern in businesses that have closed and those that have opened. The ones that closed have largely been independent, mom & pop shops, while almost every one that’s opened is part of a chain. It’s depressing (to me anyway) but maybe that’s the only type of business that has a chance of making it today.

@7:40, as for PR’s historic lack of business, if I understand our town’s history, we were designed to be a bedroom community, which by definition means its residents work and do business elsewhere. So as we try to reposition ourselves in a new century and try to attract more business here, it’s just one more obstacle to overcome.

But it seems like we should be attractive to smaller retailers who don’t need a ton of space. Not to mention that fact that if we had been designed to accommodate more commerce and industry we’d probably look a lot like Niles. Which wouldn’t have been attractive to lots of residents anyway.

Lastly, regarding teens. I think 5:58 has it right. We shouldn’t look at teens as a major market to serve because they are so mobile. When I was a teen in PR, we routinely drove into the city because that’s where the action — and the lake — was. Evanston was also fun for us not because of its retail but because of its lakefront and proximity to that exotic species known as college students. And incidentally, I look at all the great retail in Evanston and wonder at how college kids can afford to eat and shop there. I know I was subsisting on boxed mac and cheese in college. So the affluent families are probably doing more than their share of keeping business booming. We should look harder at what they are doing to attract so many shoppers/diners.

As for the teen market, I do think teen do spend a fair amount of money at the restaurants here — even when on the go, a kid’s gotta eat. A cool shop like Urban Outfitters would attract teens, for sure, but it won’t keep them rooted here. Targeting families would make more sense since they’re less mobile and want to be able to shop close to home. We seem to be on the right track but need an even bigger boost of some sort to convince business owners they should hang their shingles here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “We seem to be on the right track but need an even bigger boost of some sort to convince business owners they should hang their shingles here.”

The City has been searching for that “magic bullet” in various ways, through various means, since at least 1990. If voters believe that having Ryles do Vegas with “just a hug and a handshake” is that magic bullet, then they should vote for him. But they better also buy a Lotto ticket to hedge their bet.

I have been a longtime reader of this blog but have never commented until now.

I was a member of the EDC and can attest to the accuracy of what you have written about it and its efforts to attract and keep business in Park Ridge. We never tried to “diagnose” (as you call it) the problem of why retail wasn’t flocking to Park Ridge, we just kept coming up with ideas to treat the symptoms.

Getting Whole Foods here, without any tax or other concessions, is the single biggest retail accomplishment I can think of. And the Economic Development Task Force’s criticism of the City Council for taking that hard-line approach shows just how out of touch, or ignorant, the majority of those Task Force members are.

The mom & pop retailers who open up here often just guess at whether Park Ridge will be a good market for their goods or services. As a result, more of them will close because they misjudged the market. The bigger retailers and chains, on the other hand, are much more scientific in their approach and aren’t likely to take a flyer on Park Ridge without solid marketing data.

So when Larry Ryles, or anybody else, says they will “sell” Park Ridge to any significant-sized retailer, they are fooling themselves and misleading the public.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not bad…not bad at all.

If you ever want to submit a “guest essay” as succinct and salient as this comment, we can pretty much guaranty you we’ll publish it.

Anon 3/20 6 AM I don’t know who you are, but you should run for Mayor. Yours is the most cogent, thoughtful and accurate assessment of what we have/don’t have and why that I have ever read. 3:19 3:20 PM also has a number of accurate observations. Some can be fixed, some can’t. We can’t make landlords charge reasonable rents, we can’t make the Feds or the State make 6 Corners a walkable intersection. But most of the rest is entirely possible, and the Economic Development Task Force (yes, Mayor Schmidt’s) outlined a number of these practical short- and long-term solutions. Now we just need to actually DO something about them.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t know who 6:00 a.m. is, either, but it sounds a lot like Larry Ryles – channeling the collective membership of the EDTF.

Let’s see now: 6:00 a.m. identifies no specific “smaller retailers who don’t need a ton of space.” That’s helpful…not.

6:00 a.m. suggests we “look harder at what [Evanston is] doing to attract so many shoppers/diners.” Hmmm…could the 75,000 people in 30,000 households (v. 37,000 people in 14,000 households) have something to do with it? Or the fact that just its two top employers alone employ 9,000 people, many/most of whom may not live in Evanston? Or that it is the home of one of the country’s premier universities? Or that it’s situated on Lake Michigan? Or the several high-rise office buildings and the 18-screen movie theater located there? Once you eliminate “suburb of Chicago” from the list, exactly what similarities are there between E-town and Park Ridge that makes the former any kind of paradigm for the latter?

6:00 a.m. suggests that “[t]argeting families would make more sense since they’re less mobile and want to be able to shop close to home.” Yeah, how’s that been working for us so far? Or have we been “targeting” other demographics, like the young DINK professional set, the hip-hop contingent, or Native American’s looking for a break from operating their reservation casinos?

6:00 a.m. says we need an unspecified “bigger boost of some sort to convince business owners they should hang their shingles here.” Another TIF, anyone?

I posted at 6:00 am. Thanks 12:06 for the compliment and thanks PWD for proceeding to rip my comments to shreds. I’m not Larry Ryles (nor am I even a supporter) so you could have saved yourself the time.

And BTW of course I’m aware if the differences between PR and Evanston. I never suggested we try to be something we’re clearly not. But we do have one thing in common and that is affluent residents with disposable incomes and I didn’t think it would hurt to take a look at what successes there might be applicable here. Sheesh.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan quote is instructive: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Where is your hard evidence (as opposed to mere anecdotes and speculation) that Park Ridge and Evanston have a commonality of sufficient “affluent residents with disposable incomes” to support the kind of retail you think Park Ridge deserves?

According to Wikipedia (which is not the U.S. Census Bureau, but good enough in a pinch), Evanston’s median household income is approx. $60,000, while Park Ridge’s is approx. $90,000. So adding this 50% disparity to all the other dis-similarities we previously noted, you’re comparing kumquats to watermelons.

If you’re going to reach like that, why not look at Oak Brook? Or Milwaukee? Or New York? Sheesh!

You come at everything from the philosophical position that the government has no business getting directly involved in economic development.Period. So naturally you’ll disparage any effort, either by a mayor-appointed group of business owners and consultants, a paid expert on the City’s staff or any other means that involves the government. You claim to be regretful that nothing will work, but you’re secretly pleased to proclaim the glass less than half full. So ok, we won’t ask you to help with ideas short-term or long, big or small, piecemeal or global, to help make Park Ridge a great place to shop or run a business. Moving right along…

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, we come at retail in Park Ridge from the position of Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. The only talk we’ve been hearing from the EDTF and Larry Ryles is the same talk we’ve been hearing since 1994.

We were excited to hear, back in the 1990s, about all the businesses those business people on the EDC (and its part-time paid consultant) were planning to attract to Park Ridge. But we woke up a little bit when those busiensses didn’t show up, and some big businesses actually left. We were excited in 2002-3-4-5 to hear that Park Ridge was going to get a GAP, an Ann Taylor, a Crate & Barrel, a Barnes & Noble, etc. when the City had its own six-figure economic development director and we were being sold on the Uptown TIF project. But we woke up a bit more when none of those showed up.

We’re delighted Whole Foods is coming, no thanks to any City Staff or outside consultants; and no thanks to the EDTF members who ripped the Mayor and the City Council for not throwing a couple million dollars of tax sharing at WF.

Again, “don’t just stand there, do something” hasn’t worked in the past – and it has no better chance of working in the present or the future.

Someone posted the 5/4/09 council meeting on the above Patch link. Paul Sheehan and The Ryles Team are proving once again how convoluted their thinking is.

Usually I try not to use the PW forum as a free for all but since Anon 3:19 who obviously was alive long before I was and the fact many of us either weren’t or not living in PR at the time, I thought I’d type up this link on The Deep End.

http://journaltips.blogspot.com/2009/08/deep-end-club-in-park-ridge.html

7:41 on 3/20: The problem with your position is that you assume the burden of proof is on anyone who is skeptical of government involvement in ED issues, when in fact the opposite is true. You are talking about the free market afterall, in which the default position is to let it adjust ITSELF to supply and demand. Using taxpayer money to interfere with this relationship is interventionist and requires a rock-solid justification. Also local history (if we ignore Ryles/Frimark’s attempts to have us forget it) teaches us that it is also misguided at best and completely destructive to a town’s wealth at worst (see PR’s TIF for an example of the latter).

The naive assumption of the people who support an ED employee at city hall is that getting a business to move into PR is the whole challenge; that if only someone was charming and slick enough to really follow those “Glengarry leads” and hook a big one, that we would all be saved.

But an Urban Outfitters or Crate & Barrel are only worth the tax revenue they bring in, and if it turns out that what PR residents really enjoy doing on their carefree Saturdays is getting out of PR and driving to Old Orchard or Woodfield for a walk around the mall (where they also have an Apple store!!!), rather than “shopping locally” on Main St., then even a sturdy A-list chain would be a disappointment. Obviously this applies even more so to small, tenuous, independent businesses.

Was it the 2006 study that cost $32,000 and addressed some of these issues of how big mall chains perceive PR? I’d like to see current statistics that update the data to reflect increases in internet shopping over the last 7 years and other economic changes, but frankly I’d rather if some private entity paid for that analysis instead of pulling it out of the General Fund.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly. Actually, the position taken by all these economic development types – including mayoral challenger Larry Ryles – assumes that retailers, especially those “whale” national and regional retailers, are too stupid or oblivious to realize that they could make a bundle of money if they came here; and all they need is some taxpayer-paid economic development director (or “just a hug and a handshake” from Larry Ryles) to educate and charm them.

I have enjhoyed this discussion tremendously because over the years I thought it was just a question of knocking on enough retailers’ doors. This post and this discussion have made me think about the issue in ways I had not done, and you have convinced me that unless the city wants to throw our money at one business or another (what somebody somewhere has called “picking winners and losers”) it is really up to the retailers themselves to decide whether there is enough profit and growth opportunity here for them to make an invstment in Park Ridge. Like you, I am happy Whole Foods has made that decision. I wish Mariano’s also had come here, but one other commenter is right in saying that Whole Foods is the most high profile business to come here in quite awhile. Hopefully that is a start instead of a one-off.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It will be interesting to see if anything is done with either of the two vacant/open former Napleton sites when the economy moves into a stronger growth mode.

Since neither the poster nor PD stated it, I would like to say the following: “The naive assumption of the people who support an ED employee at city hall”….That would be the Mayor. Mayor Dave Schmidt. In fact he blames the loss of that position for business being ignored.

PD you said the following….”all they need is some taxpayer-paid economic development director **like Dave Schmidt wants**(or “just a hug and a handshake” from Larry Ryles) to educate and charm them”.

See how I inserted his name?? Is that so hard??

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, actually – although for accuracy it should read: “all they need is some taxpayer-paid economic development director like both Dave Schmidt and Larry Ryles want (or “just a hug and a handshake from Larry Ryles) to educate and charm them.”

And you should be commended for identifying perhaps the only policy/issue/position on which those two agree.

I’m beginning to think the economic development issues we face have less to do with our public officials and more to do with the many people here in town who are selfishly opposed to any kind of change.

For example, the NIMBYs who were opposed to Whole Foods were hell bent on trying to stop it, regardless of how much the addition of their store could do for our city’s coffers and public profile. I listened to them drone on and on at some of those meetings and remember feeling so thankful that the zoning board and City Council were able to see past their ever-changing objections. One guy went so far as to say he was representing St. Paul of the Cross on behalf of the kids who would be so endangered by the increase in traffic in the area!

It made me feel, at times, like we are a town full of short-sighted curmudgeons. Which I still see in evidence, by the way, in the objections to the Youth Campus park proposal. But that’s getting off the ED topic, I realize.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We think that the problem is less the “short-sighted curmudgeons” than it is the “selfish self-interests” and the “well-meaning but clueless.”

Exhibit A: Private “community groups” who believe they are entitled to tax dollars for services they refuse to prove are actually being provided to Park Ridge residents.

Exhibit B: the widespread belief (until the Kane McKenna report from several weeks ago confirmed what Mayor Schmidt and the former City Finance Director had been saying for awhile) that the Uptown TIF was a rousing success.

Mike, 1:15
When I read your response (and thanks for the link) I thought “maybe I shouldn’t have smoked that joint in high school.” So I called my sister to verify “what the hell I was talking about” and, according to her recollection, after the REAL Deep End closed a group of teens, in an attempt to either revitalize the era or “misleadingly” draw teens in, were using space at the uptown Methodist Church on Touhy for band practice and, to encourage participants and an audience, were calling it something similar to “The Deep End.” This would have been maybe ’76-’78.
So, because I was “younger” than you the REAL Deep End did not exist for me. But because the current Teen Center is in the same location, the memory of what I just described came to mind and is why I even mentioned any existence of any Deep End at all.
Again, thanks for the link, and thanks (NOT) for reminding me of how I missed by being born a little too late.
PS: We think they were kicked out because someone was caught smoking pot there. But that wasn’t me!

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Smoking pot” might be the best explanation for all the retreaded loser economic development ideas we keep on hearing – and the apparent reluctance by the proponents of those ideas to contacting Whole Foods, Five Guys, Chipotle, Potbelly’s, etc. and ASKING THEM why they chose to come to Park Ridge. It might also be the best explanation for the compulsion to hire yet another unproductive economic development director, or to elect a mayor who will stand at McCarran Airport in Vegas wearing a sandwich sign that says: “Will work for retail.”

Mike 1:15
After I got over my “embarrassment” of my Deep End blunder – and of course wishing I had stated it differently (“Wasn’t there a place at the Methodist Church called the Deep End?” thereby signifying my hazy memory as that, not like a fact); or had posted it under the Teen Center title (where my point about the “Woe, woe, where are the teens going to go?” issue, not my incorrect Deep End blunder, was the focus) – I wanted to point out, to you, that my comment was not a “free-for-all” comment – just an appropriate comment with a STUPID wrong-name reference.

But, then it occurred to me how serendipitous this might be. What about an Under 21 Club in Park Ridge? I THINK that there’s one in Mt. Prospect (or was), but my kids are a bit older and I do not recollect either of them going there.

But think about it – a business that could not only bring tax revenue to the city (and, I know, it would have to support the financial need for extra policing, etc, etc), but (if done right based on what that age group would want while they are restricted from other venues due to alcohol being served ) tap the $-spending teen consumer, AND keep them spending, and home, in Park Ridge.

The New Improved Deep End!
IF it works in Mt. Prospect (and I’m NOT saying that I know anything more about it) maybe someone wanting to open a business in PR would be intrigued enough to investigate.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That is such an OUTSTANDING idea, anon, that YOU should be the one to make it a reality – and to reap all those profits that will roll in the door the moment it’s opened.

PD – the only business I’d risk opening in the near future would be after they legalize pot. Of course the under 21 “teens” would still have no where to go.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hey, anon, take your idea to Kate Kerin and the Park Ridge Teen Center folks. Tell them they should see if they can cover their costs by running it as a for-profit business – just that, because they’re a NFP, they’ll effectively be be socializing their profits and privatizing their losses.

I’m all for new ideas for economic development, but an under 21 club? There is no way. I think it would turn off every demographic here, including the teens, whom I’m guessing would think it’s a huge joke. We’re not nicknamed Action Ridge for nothing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Agreed. None of those teens want to go to a place that won’t take their fake I.D.s because the joint doesn’t serve booze.

Hey, maybe somebody can sell the Oberweis folks on installing a pool table or two and having a band in the parking lot between it and Panera this summer?

PD, when I first starting reading your sentence to “take your idea Kate Karin”, I almost got excited thinking she might head some committee to legalize pot – something long overdue in this country.

But as Rusirius pointed out in the Teen Center thread, Karin hasn’t made the effort she is supposedly terrific at to “save” the center. So, time will tell whether or not she’s lost interest or the “political ploy” is revealed if she “once again” SAVES the Teen Center.

But after Ryles cheezy remark at the LWV debate – “Where are the teens going to go?”…small sigh, sad head shake…”I don’t know”, add Georgian drawl for effect – I was laughing so hard (would be even funnier to songify) and thought ‘Who falls for this crap?’ What an idiot! Now, if he had lamented about funding for the Center of Concern and with heartfelt concern had asked, “What are the seniors going to do? Where will they go for help?” Well, I wouldn’t have laughed at that. No one would have.

Oh, and take a look at the photos posted on Ryles facebook page. See anyone you know? Lost any respect for some seemingly intelligent people who apparently lack critical thinking skills? I’m sorry to say that I have.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You mean one-and-done former Frimark alderpuppets Jim Allegretti and Don Bach at Ryles’ Affresco fundraiser – along with former Park Board commissioner Dick Barton and current commissioner Mel Thillens, old-time Homeowners Party attorneys and Frimark confidantes Jack Owens and Curt Edlund, and current Police Chief’s Task Force chair Frank Gruba-McCallister?

Nah.

Can I just say that “Build it and they will come” is no longer in effect. Whether it’s homes and condos, cute little boutiques, charming parks. I see this false premise everywhere I look.
But what is still in effect is “You can’t solve a problem by throwing more money at it.” And unfortunately this premise is more often overlooked.

EDITOR’S NOTE: There are a number of people who would disagree with you – and they’re supporting Ryles for mayor.

I came across a piece on the Patch titled Senior Center Law Suits Finally Resolved.
I now know who exactly to vote down on 4/9, if only to get rid of Mountcastle.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re not quite sure what you’re saying, but you may want to pull out a calculator and do the math – because 3 presumably pro-Mountcastle commissioners (O’Brien, Ryan and Thillens) aren’t even up for re-election this year; and the anti-Mountcastle slate (Bende, Phillips and Vile), even if elected, would not have the required 4-person majority to boot her.

Insurance vs attorneys? Name calling, lies and inappropriate donations. Welcome to 2 decades of park ridge. No solutions and lots of lies.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Either you haven’t lived here for “2 decades” or you were asleep during that time. If you lived here and were awake, you would know that from 1993 to 2003 (the first of those “2 decades”), Mayor Ron Wietecha and a Council dominated by the post-Marty Butler Homeowners Party had no controversy as they taxed, borrowed and spent on foolish things like the losing battle against O’Hare, while retailers left or closed down, infrastructure was neglected, and the boondoggle TIF was being hatched.

6:06 am on 3/22- I get your point and when I wrote that line about the “naive assumption of the people who support an ED employee at city hall” I did have Schmidt partially in mind. But unless I am going to vote for myself, he is still the only sane choice:

Yes, he is on record at the last (LoWV) debate saying that his 2013-14 budget will include a part-time $32,500 ED position, which I suspect is likely to be a waste of exactly that same sum. The consolation is that with Schmidt in this instance there is a hard limit on the cost and 5th Ward Ald. Dan Knight is on record saying “If we’re going to consider that in the budget, I would hope it comes with a robust expectation of what we’re willing to add.” He also added “that a job description and what the employee will be asked to accomplish must be included.”

(http://parkridge.suntimes.com/business/18519977-420/park-ridge-eyes-ways-to-bring-business.html)

So I find it incredibly heartening to see at least one person on the Council imply that this ED position will be clearly defined and monitored for performance. IMO then, the worst that can come out of it, with Schmidt and Knight doing their jobs, is that we waste $32K and can end the ED position debate forever. Otherwise, if it turns out I am wrong and there is some measure of value to having an ED bureaucrat on staff, well fine I’ll change my opinion.

Now contrast this scenario to Ryles who seems to have no idea what a budget is and could just as likely want to create a full-fledged $75K ED “entity” as the EDTF report suggested. Or several of these positions? We simply don’t know because he has never once been able to explain how much money he wants to spend on anything at all!? This goes for his positions on pretty much everything (community group giveways, police station upgrades, extra staff to collect tickets and fines that might be uncollectable, etc.)

@2:33. I largely disagree and for what it’s worth I’m not supporting Ryles.

You’re right about homes and condos. We don’t need any more of those. Which, to me, is another reason why The Youth Campus property is better off with the Park District than with developers who will try to cram it with houses. It’s not about charm (to me anyway) but about not developing every parcel within an inch of its life with new residential (or retail or commercial) buildings.

Lastly, as for “cute little boutiques.” Done right, they have a place here. Look at Tea Lula and Camp Willow as two examples of mom and pop shops that are going strong. (Too bad we can’t say the same for mom and pop restaurants, as discussed in another thread not long ago.) If only more would-be business owners could figure out their formulas we’d all be better for it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, another couple hundred Tea Lulas and Camp Willows with their 1% City sales tax and we might actually be talking real money.

4:03:

So it does not bother you that Schmidt goes on and on about how he was against getting rid of that position and that it was all Hock’s fault. He seems to be saying that the lack of a plan or real progress on answers on this issue is because Hock got tid of this position (bisinesses were ignored). Need I remind you that position he was so against getting rid of was a full paid 6 figure position?

So on the one hand getting rid of that position was a huge problem but now he thinks it can be hamdled at 1/3 he cost? Tap dancing anyone??

EDITOR’S NOTE: Having done the research, we can find no public statements by Schmidt that getting rid of Kim Uhlig caused the City’s retail problems or substantially hindered their solutions. Which is why we think he’s wrong on suggesting the City hire yet another economic development person, even at 1/3 the cost. Now, does anybody – including Ryles – know what Ryles’ view on the City’s hiring of an economic development person is?

The Park District has received far more compliments on its more customer-friendly, computer-convenient, clean and inviting facilities and functions than they receive complaints about their returning a public building (Senior Center) to public management.

If you want to go back to the lack of basic upkeep (no cleaning locker rooms, no flowers), lack of accountability for everything from lifeguard training to fiscal control; lack of customer service and other problems Ray Ochromowicz, Gayle Mountcastle and the current board have worked so hard to improve, just to give even more “reparations” to a splinter group of people at the Senior Center, you’re not thinking of the welfare of all 38,000 residents.

Good thing the current Park Board is.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We let that last comment go, and we’re letting this one go, too. But this post is about retail, folks…save these comments for this coming week’s post on the Senior Center settlement.

It is unlikely that ticky-tacky houses would be built across the street from the Country Club; any appraiser would value those lots, which are likely to go as doubles (100 ft. frontage), minimum, at $259,000 each, x 2 lots, not including the house itself. That’s a half-mill per property before building anything. A house itself on those lots would go for another half-mill which makes the cheapest house a million- dollar proposition. Appraisers, tell me I’m wrong. And I’m guessing those McMansion owners would be paying the City $25,000 a year or more in property taxes, each. Yes, there’s an impact on the sewers with all the extra hardscape, but with the typical 1.5 kids in those McMansions, the impact on the schools would not be excessive. Are parklands preferable? Hell, yeah. But I don’t think you need to worry about a repeat of the Edison Park Home situation here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wrong, wrong and wrong.

While the annual property tax on the kind of homes you are describing might be in the $25,000 range, “the City” would get only about $2,500 of that.

Because the schools take approx. 70% of our property tax dollars, that’s $17,500 out of that $25,000 tax payment – divided roughly 50-50 between D-64 and D-207. So your speculative “typical 1.5 kids” per house would generate between $20,740 and $23,760 of additional costs to the districts, based on the $13,826 per pupil cost to D-64 and the $15,839 per pupil cost to D-207. Can you say “a $3,000 to $6,000 deficit for the schools from each household each year”?

There’s no way to know what kind of homes a developer will build on that site. And if they’re not “McMansions,” the financial hit to the school districts will be even harder.

10:03- My position is that I don’t have to agree with everything Schmidt has done, does or thinks to still support him over Ryles. The fact that he is only considering a part-time ED employee over another six-figure salary is a step in the right (prudent) direction. If Knight is able to convince the rest of the Council that the position has to be audited along the way it should put an end to all the theoretical discussions about this type of thing. Although you may still have some who insist that if only we spent another $500K or a million and on ad infinitum that only then could we say we really tried. But this type of thinking that has no hard end and no way to measure its success is totally destructive to trying to run a government or business. PD is right that it counts as a form of insanity.

Also I understand it, the real issue with Hock was that he consistently acted against the Council’s and Mayor’s wishes on various issues. In this particular case I believe he was right in theory to fire Uhlig, but if he was unauthorized to do so, well…

EDITOR’S NOTE: Hock failed on so many levels it would be hard to track them all. And even after the current Council gave him a “redemption” period to get his act together, he bombed out to the point where the Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to sack him.

And the reason he fired Uhlig had a lot less to do with how she was doing her job than the fact that he was told by the Council to cut $100,000+ from the budget; and for some reason he didn’t want to cut then-Community Preservation & Development Director Carrie Davis, ultimately giving her an unauthorized $25,000 severance payment when the Council finally forced his hand.

PD- In reference to your comment on 3:37 re: the tax revenue from houses, correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t the cost of schooling work itself out in the end, not only due to households that have no children, but also due to those that stay in the same house long after their children are grown and out of both districts?

That same $17,500 over the course of 20 years in the same house gives a family enough for 24+ years of education (enough for two kids). So how long do families tend to stay in their homes in PR?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Time to start doing your own research and pulling yourself out of the ignorance reflected in your “the cost of schooling work[s] itself out in the end.”

Even with respect to the relatively few million dollar houses in town, it’s hard to imagine how that can possibly be true. That 1.5 kid “average” is misleading because it figures in a majority of smaller houses providing fewer tax dollars. Plus the taxes already are so high that we keep hearing about more and more parents who substantially downsize or move out of Park Ridge entirely as soon as their kids are out of the schools – with their former houses acquired by new families with 2, 3 and 4 kids.

Correction: My calculation for my previous post was based on a 30 year residence at $17,500 a year paying for about 24 years of schooling. 20 years in a house would be closer to the 1.5 child average.

EDITOR’S NOTE: So what? You’re still way off the reservation.

8:28:

PD told you to do your own research. The translation is that your point is correct but he only wants to look at one side of the issue. The stas he quoted related to the the deficit reflect his belief that public schools should be like private schools….you pay as you go and when the kids are gone you are done. That is a perfectly legit position but that is not the way our system is designed.

Related to parents moving away after the kids are gone, that certainly occurs, as it does in every community. I am not even sure where I would find stats on where we rank in that area but just base on my obserbations around town I would guess we do not have an epidemic in that area. If I look on my block, up one side of the street and down the other, the count is as follows: 12 homes who are parents with kids gone. In some cases LONG gone….like 20+_ years gone!!! 8 families with kids at various levels in either d64 or d207.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, sunshine, but unless you live in a neighborhood of $1 million homes, your anecdote is meaningless to this discussion. And any smaller/less expensive homes immediately start cutting into the “contribution” side of 8:28’s tax equation by 1/4, or 1/3, or maybe even 1/2, if not more. Even Park Ridge’s higher rollers don’t seem to want to shell out 25 large a year to the tax man once they no longer “need” the 3,500-4,000 square feet of their McMansions.

PD – at the risk of putting my nose where it might get bit off (and, I know #1 this thread is about ED, and #2 I’m not challenging your cited figures or math) your reply to my posts on the WWRD thread 3/15 12:23 and 3/17 8:33 about education dollars and the school board of Dist.64 leaves me wondering. I value this blog because it educates me on issues, so, if you have a moment, educate me.

On WWRD you “implied” that the 35% paid into D64 is too high for what it produces (too low ISAT scores – which I agree) and to evaluate carefully the people we elect to the B of E. And yet, on 3/23 3:37, your breakdown states that D64 + 207 would be financially hit by a deficit even if more million dollar McMansions are built around town (which, incredibly, there still are.)

So, with the larger number of homes paying lower than $25,000 taxes… kind of “implies” an overall deficit- esp if those have more than 1.5 kids using the public system? Do I have to take back one of my favorite quips – “With all the money we’ve poured into these schools over the year, the halls of Maine South should be paved in gold by now!” I really like saying that.

If you’d prefer to address this in a future post, I’ll wait until we get there.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Disgusted Resident, it’s just math. But remember that our schools also get funding from the state, so the deficit is not as bad as it would be if the schools had to survive solely on local property taxes.

“It is unlikely that ticky-tacky houses would be built across the street from the Country Club”

Have you looked closely around that neighborhood? It is littered with large but shlocky houses that developers with dollar signs in their eyes built during the housing boom. Many are standing vacant and are starting to deteriorate. One near me mysteriously flooded, then burned, and was finally demolished. I’m not sure who paid for the demolition but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was taxpayer-subsidzed.

The last thing we need is a whole crop of them cluttering up The Youth Campus property.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s the free market for you: people take the risk of buying a lot and building a house on it, in the hope they can sell it for a profit. Would you prefer that the government decide whether and what can be built on those lots, and at what price?

The formerly joined-at-the-hip Sheehan/Ryles press release partnership is apparently now being taken over by John Kerin, after Sheehan put his complete lack of intellectual rigor on display in the PR Patch the other week.

So what do we get now: http://rylesforparkridge.com/images/Change_at_the_Top_-_Final_For_Website.pdf

Yes, more of the same. Still defending the TIF. Still claiming Schmidt is responsible for Frimark’s financially catastrophic 4/21/09 budget that could not be altered by state law after 5/1/09 (three days before Schmidt officially became mayor). Still whining about lack of funding for community groups (isn’t it telling how Kerin lists the Teen Center above Meals on Wheels by the way). Still arguing for closed-door sessions at city hall.

Is this what we have to expect for another two weeks from this rout… press releases every Monday signed by all the ghosts of Park Ridge Past. Or maybe next week we can have one signed by the Police, Fire and Public Works unions telling us, again, how much integrity Ryles has.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, all the folks who contributed their shares to the economic morass that Park Ridge had become – with the three former mayors cornering the market on boneheadedness by virtue of their leading roles in the Uptown TIF – are on Team Ryles. And most of them have their hands in one or more “community groups” pies, which explains their support for a return to the bad old days.

Mysteriously??!?! The house, while unoccupied flooded and, as I understand it, a mold issue developed. This does happen at occasionally….sad but true!!

I go through that neighborhood all the time. Please tell me where all these houses that are “stand empty and starting to deteriorate”.

As to schlocky, that is in the eye of the beholder.

Anon 121- How can you dispute the section of the release that clearly illustrates that Schmidt and Knight just cost shifted numbers? Back in black is a fraud. They just took money out of a different one of our pockets to look good. Unethical people are usually unethical in government. It’s damning to Schmidt.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What numbers are you contending “Schmidt and Knight just cost shifted”? And how much money went from what pocket to what pocket? We want to see if you understand this better or worse than John Kerin – or whether you’re just mindlessly repeating what you read elsewhere.

3:56, if the house had only flooded, I don’t think I’d be too suspicious. But add a fire to the mix and it seems fishy.

As for other empty homes, they’re pretty easy to spot. Weeds growing through the cracks of never-used patios, new landscaping neglected, flyers on the porches. I’m not saying there are a ton, but enough that leads me to believe we don’t need more in that neighborhood.

EDITOR’S NOTE: How about a new ordinance that requires anybody who buys a home to live there until somebody else is ready to move in?

Unlike some of our less-advantaged neighboring communities, Park Ridge enjoys the services of a cadre of trained architects and other folks with some useful background who serve for free on the City’s Appearance Commission. That’s why the big new houses don’t have things like 40-ft. walls without windows, fancy-schmancy facades that end abruptly at the edge of the front of the house where the common brick is visible, yards without decent landscaping and trees, etc. etc. Coupled with the P&Z that ensures you can’t build up to the lot lines, Park Ridge’s McMansions are about as nice looking and community-enhancing as any building can be. So if the referendum does not pass, I believe we can safely assume that, altho not parkland and parking lots, it won’t be an eyesore.

Anon 10:19 on 3/24-No-the last thing we need is the park district spending $13,200,000-$18,000,000 all in-on the YC park that will tangibly benefit only one part of town.

Anon 3/24 4:41 – Schmidt already responded to the accusation of using bonds issued during the 2011/12 period to “inflate our cash accounts” as the Ryles Rout is claiming. If you haven’t read his response on PR Patch yet, or don’t care to, then the simple answer is either that Ryles & Co. are at best a band of village idiots and a worst a bunch of rotten liars.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, then the more in depth answer would be to look at the historical fund performance PDF on the city’s website: http://www.parkridge.us/assets/1/Documents/Historical%20Fund%20Performance.pdf

On page 2 you will see the IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund) set up by Frimark in 2007 which is where the $2.1 million pension payoff went in 2011. The lower interest rate is expected to save the city $800K over the next few years. Notice it has nothing to do with the General Fund as they are claiming.

Then on page 12 you can see the Sewer Construction Fund where almost $5.8 million in bonds ended up. The Ryles Rout apparently found it convenient to mislead the public that the $5.4 million figure was actually not the original bond amount, but rather a mistakenly rounded (who rounds $5,492,427 to 5.4 rather than 5.5 except for these crooks!?) income figure after construction and misc. expenses for the year.

As for the bit about shifting the sewer tax on to our water bills, well… you really should read Schmidt’s piece for the punchline on that one. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s a good one!

@12:55. I agree that the Appearance Commission can help prevent some of the really egregious violations. Where it can’t, or couldn’t, or didn’t prevent– not sure how long we’ve had that commission — seems to fall into the general area of quality. I’m not talking purely aesthetics, which, as another poster noted is in the eye of the beholder. What irks me about some of the new or newish houses is that they clearly were not built with craftsmanship or sustainability in mind, just profit.

Cutting corners with materials, such as using masonry on the front facade only. Slapping on the nicest front door that Menard’s offers and thinking you can add another $50,000 to the asking price. Putting in the smallest shrubs you can get — and not even bothering to take the price tags off! Saving money has it merits but these types of houses have done nothing to enhance the community.

Even the smallest, humblest of bungalows or ranch homes, circa the 20s through the 60s, show much more evidence of thoughtful design and quality materials. It’s why they’re still standing so many decades later, often with their original windows. I’m positive some of the newer houses will not have that kind of longevity.

I really like PWD’s ordinance idea. It might force a fly by night builder to come up with something he/she might actually consider living in rather than just making a buck off of and leaving the neighborhood lesser for it.

OK, rant over.

Moved here a year ago. Love the site although a bit biased.

Park ridge can’t attract much decent retail because it doesn’t want it. For a lot of reasons. First of all being this is a bedroom community. Secondly because park ridge is a conservative community that is pretty cheap with its money. We have dave Schmidt as a mayor! I’m not ashamed to admit I don’t fritter away my hard earned above median income on boutiques, expensive suburban restaurants or other frivolous retail establishments, especially when I can drive 5 mins up greenwood and buy whatever my household needs in Niles at a box store. I like downtown the way it is. A handful of casual eateries, grocery stores and some other businesses. I don’t want to live in Niles or its soulless counterpart, Schaumburg. This is not the north shore, nor is it like most other suburbs. It’s park ridge and I like it the way it is.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Re “biased” – guilty as charged. We are proudly biased in favor of the taxpayers and against stupidity, secrecy, un-accountability, freeloaders of all stripes, and bureaucrats who believe they are doing God’s work and want commensurate salaries and benefits.



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