I often read opinion pieces written by people within the community that are critical of new development, new homes, new construction, demolition of older homes, etc. I read about parking issues in the Central Business District. I read how people are concerned about out of town visitors to the public beach. More often than not, the authors of these well written articles have lived in the community for a short time. I find it interesting how people’s perspective and opinions are so well developed after such a brief experience.
We live in a village that people love for many reasons. Most often, it is the “character of the village” that is referenced when people praise the merits of life in Lake Bluff. They know what living in Lake Bluff is like for them today, but they have no idea about what has been accomplished over the last 10, 20 or 100 years to allow the village to become what it is today.
As a lifelong resident of Lake Bluff, I have witnessed and participated in many changes within the community for the last 60 years. I loved growing up in Lake Bluff and I love living in Lake Bluff even more today. The changes that have occurred in Lake Bluff during my lifetime have been remarkable. The changes that have taken place in Lake Bluff in the last 15 years have been incredible. These changes have resulted in Lake Bluff transforming from a sleepy, often overlooked and undervalued town into the village so many of us love today. And changes must continue in order for Lake Bluff to be attractive to the next generation of residents.
In my opinion, our housing stock is much better today than it was when I was a child. We did not have a parking problem when I was younger, but we also had no reason for people to park here. As a child we had no restaurants, no brewery or coffee shops. At 5pm the streets in the Central Business District were vacant, the few shops we had turned off their lights as the day came to an end. We did have a laundry with coin operated machines. We had a second hand thrift shop. We had a meat market and a dime store. I know what Lake Bluff was like in the 1960’s and I know Lake Bluff today. I am quite certain that many of our current residents would have never settled here had changes and improvements not been made.
I do not fear change, I embrace it. For without thoughtful change we will become obsolete. A recent contributor wrote about concerns to his home’s value if changes to our antiquated zoning code take place. Our zoning code needs to be adjusted over time to allow for proper changes that will in fact, enhance the value of all property in the community and allow for continued enhancements that will be attractive, desirable and much needed in the future.
When I was a child, the West and East Terraces were being developed. There were people who were concerned about density. Today, people love living there. In the late ’70s and early ’80s people were up in arms about Tangley Oaks being turned into a housing development. Today, it is a beautiful example of how housing can blend well with nature while providing privacy for the homeowners.
The east side of town has seen change too. Some are concerned the new homes are out of scale with the neighborhood. I remember most all of the homes that have been replaced. I played in many of them as a child and have known many of the previous owners. With few exceptions, the replacement structure has been superior to the original. And there is a reason the new homes were built. They were built because the market desired it. And the market is the new generation of residents.
Change is good. Change is healthy. We all must look back in order to guide our progress forward, but if we don’t continue moving ahead we will become something less than we can be.
I hear people love Lake Bluff because it reminds them of “Mayberry”. Indeed, when I was a child, Andy Griffith, Floyd and Barney would have fit right in. Today, Lake Bluff is even better!
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