PlanItGreen implementation gains momentum as first quarter priority strategies are identified

Submitted by Sally Stovall

The official  Oak Park-River Forest Sustainability Plan was presented to village officials, the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation, representatives of institutions in the area, and community residents in June of this year.   The plan, which was commissioned by the OPRF Community Foundation has been adopted by the the two villages and many other stakeholders.  Seven Generations Ahead and the Delta Institute have been retained as consultants to the project to guide the implementation process.

Twenty strategies in the 9 different focus areas have been prioritized to be started in the first quarter of the implementation.  This is not an exclusive list and other strategies may also be undertaken by various institutions and community groups.  Following is a brief description of the 1st quarter priority strategies, grouped by topic areas:

Topic Area:  Education

  • Develop Sustainable Teachers Network / Task Force
  • Develop local web-based resource and information portal through Green Community Connections
  • Green Town Oak Park 2011   (Complete:  Held 10/12/2011)
  • Develop best practice case studies by strategy and institution related to core topic areas)
  • Conduct PlanItGreen Adopter / Stakeholder Forums  (Scheduled:  11/30/2011)

Topic Area:  Energy

  • Access and promote existing energy efficiency upgrade loans and grants to support local business, residents and condo owners

Topic Area:  Waste

  • Develop pilot residential food scrap collection and composting program in Oak Park & River Forest.  (A pilot program including 2500 homes in south Oak Park is being planned to begin in April, 2012).
  • Establish building materials re-use center

Topic Area:  Water

  • Align PlanItGreen water conservation education and resource development strategies with VOP/CMAP (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning)
  • Educate VOP/VRF residents about state legislation promoting rainwater harvesting and greywater use and connect them to advocacy efforts
  • Develop green infrastructure project proposals with local institutions

Topic Area:  Community Development

  • Create sustainable development criteria / incentives for all OP/RF developments; review VOP / VRF ordinances to identify opportunities to incorporate those that support sustainability and eliminate those that do not; and incorporate criteria, codes and incentives into VOP / VRF comprehensive plans

Topic Area:  Green Economic Development

  • Develop Green Business Criteria and Certification Program
  • Analyze brownfield sites and develop plans for remediation, resuse, and green economic development (Note:  Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands.  Source:

Topic Area:  Open Space and Ecosystems

  • Incorporate green infrastructure into new construction and retrofit work, and incorporate criteria and best practices as part of municipal code review.

Topic Area:  Food

  • Support development of plan for Dominican University to increase healthy and local sustainable food access.

Topic Area:  Transportation

  • Convene "walking tour" and strategy session with consultant, Mark Fenton, to explore "complete streets" and bike / pedestrian friendly development options.    (Complete:  Held 10/11/2011)
  • Increase biking and walking to and from schools.)
  • Deliver bike safety education to 3rd-5th graders.
  • Create plans for full service biking facility in downtown Oak Park

Additional 1st Quarter Strategies

In addition to the above strategies that are focused on the 9 topic areas, there are strategies focused on overall plan support including:

  • Gathering the necessary data to support additional strategies and to develop a scorecard on progress
  • Engagement of additional PlanItGreen members, organizations  and participants,
  • Fund-raising, and
  • Communications to keep the community informed