Oak Park Residents Debate Benefits and Problems Of Proposed McDonald’s
The monthly Oak Park Neighborhood Association Meeting for January was
packed with more than 50 citizens ready to debate the merits of a
proposed McDonald's Restaurant to be built in their neighborhood.
The meeting, which was moderated by Paul Towers, vice president of the
OPNA, also had in attendance Kim Garrett, a representative for
McDonald's, and Patrick Diffley, a member of the McDonald's construction
team. Garrett and Diffley were stocked with data promoting potential
benefits to the surrounding area should the proposed McDonald's be
constructed. Some of those benefits included:
* The development of a lot that has been vacant for years
* The addition of approximately 128 jobs to the area
* Over $2,000,000 annually spent on wages and benefits on this
* The use of recycled and energy-efficient materials in
Leading the debate for the opposition was Charlene Hauser and Joellen
Arnold, both of whom are local residents. They were quick to point out
that a "quick service" restaurant would do little to add to the sense of
community that they are trying to nurture in Oak Park. They argued that
the 24-hour "double drive-thru" would disturb nearby residents and
create a danger to pedestrians and cyclists. Another topic of debate was
the low nutritional value of the food that McDonald's serves.
After only a few minutes, a noticeable change in the demeanor of the
room was apparent as more and more local residents expressed their heavy
reservations to the construction of the McDonalds. In an exercise of
moderation, Towers asked the residents to write down their concerns and
comments on index cards so they could be collected and read aloud to be
The residents' comments were read aloud by Joany Titheringtion and
LaTisha Anderson of OPNA. Concerns and comments from the attendees
* Would McDonald's be willing to forgo the installation of the
* Would McDonald's be willing to substitute some of the
less-nutritional items on its menu for healthier ones?
* Would the existing trees on the property be destroyed?
* Who would be responsible for the increased litter that some
foresee being a result of the new restaurant?
* Would McDonald's be willing to erect a mixed-use style building?
Garrett and Diffley did their best to appease the attendees' questions,
however audible groans and laughter was the response to most of their
answers. At one point, in a somewhat ironic observation, a local
resident pointed out that a childhood obesity clinic was located just
across the street from the proposed restaurant site.
Still other residents lamented that Oak Park is a "food desert," lacking
adequate access to healthy food for all, and that a new McDonald's would
be a continuing move in the wrong direction.
As the evening drew to a close, both sides were invited to continue the
dialogue at the end of the meeting. It seemed, however, that the two
respective sides had already made up their minds, with the consensus of
the residents being against a new McDonald's, and the promoters of the
restaurant ready to move ahead with logistical planning and formalities
toward reaching their end goals.
At that point, Hauser produced a petition, asking Oak Park residents to
sign their names stating their opposition to the proposed construction.
Still others pleaded with their fellow citizens to stay engaged and
informed so their voices can be heard before the City Council and their
1.) CGI Concept of proposed McDonald's
2.) Aerial view of proposed McDonald's site (marked in red), location of
Ronald McDonald House (marked in yellow)
3.) Architect rendering of proposed McDonalds' (Street Elevation)
4.) Architect plans of proposed McDonalds and parking lot (Overhead
5.) Attendees follow "New McDonald's" Debate