Two weeks ago, I read with interest Brad Anderson’s panegyric to the idea of “change” in Lake Bluff. He spoke to those who apparently are unhappy with how our village is changing, asking them to recognize that good things can happen over the long term and to trust in it.
I like and respect Brad and think he does an excellent job as the head of Lake Bluff’s oldest realtors. I do think, though, that he may have overstated the benefits in our village in this echo of “hope and change.”
I didn’t grow up in Lake Bluff but my wife and I raised 3 boys here and lived in the same home over by the lake for over 30 years. We enjoyed every year of it. Recently, we sold our home and downsized to a smaller house in Lake Bluff. We sold not because we wanted to, but because of the ever-increasing burden of high property taxes and the ever-increasing concern over the state of our State, none of which any of us can ignore and which may be at the root of most of our problems. [Unfortunately, we know the litany: huge unfunded pensions and high state debt, high real estate taxes, and the Illinois diaspora–1 Illinoisan leaves every 5 minutes.]
Nonetheless, I think our town has improved since we moved here in the 1980s, but certainly not in all respects. I think we have permitted too large a scale of new houses on our small lots, we’ve lost the over-arching canopy of oaks, maples and elms that used to cover our town, and we’ve let many of our historical homes slip away. I also miss not having any basic services in our town; we seem to be over-served by food, drink and, perhaps, nail emporia. We no longer have a pharmacy, a place to buy milk, bread, etc., or to buy simple hardware.
Change is inevitable. What is critical is that we determine what “change” we can both control and that we want, and that we don’t slide passively into change that may be detrimental to, yes, the unique “character” of our village–a small village that is safe for our children whether uptown or at the beach, that functions like a real village with necessary services, and, most importantly, a village in which neighbors and neighborliness really count. Unfortunately, neighborliness suffers when concerns over safety and the number of strangers increase in our village.
Accordingly, I encourage Lake Bluffers to remain vigilant, to insist on safety, beauty and tradition and to guard against passively accepting trends masquerading as progress, like short term rentals in an alleged “shared economy.” Look hard at what is being proposed for our village and make your feelings known. Don’t just vote with your feet.
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