OPA Blog

Top Car Theft Prevention Tips

Oak Park Apartments believes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when dealing with crime and by following these few helpful tips you can decrease your chances of being victimized by a car thief.
  • Always lock your door, roll up your windows and employ the alarm system, if you have one. You would be surprised how many cars are burglarized because a door was simply left unlocked and the car and its’ contents were ripe for the picking.
  • Never leave any valuables out in the open.  In fact, when practical, always remove your valuables from the car when you leave the vehicle.  Thieves are opportunists and if they can see your laptop, cell phone, important documents or even gym bag they may be tempted to break into your vehicle.  If you must leave valuables in the car, lock them in your trunk or hide from plain sight.
  • This might seem obvious but never leave your car keys in your car – running or just unattended – it only takes a thief a split second to jump in your car and take off.
  • Never leave the registration in your car. If stolen, this makes it easier for the thief to dispose of your vehicle. Keep it with your drivers license and keep both with you.
  • Do not keep a spare key hidden in the car – an experienced thief will be able to find that in no time.
  • Whenever you approach your vehicle be alert and have your keys in your hands. Check outside and inside your vehicle for suspicious individuals. Immediately leave the scene if anything appears suspicious. Call the police.
  • If you are rear ended, call the police from your car immediately. Take a picture from inside your car of the offending vehicle/license plate if you are able.  Do not get out of your vehicle if anything appears suspicious until the police arrive.

Are You A Good Roommate?

It’s easy to point the finger at the other guy when troubles arise in any relationship but truly the most effective way to help any situation is to analyze what you can do to better get along.
  • Set Expectations From The Start. Go into a roommate relationship with some established rules on cleaning, expenses, food, visitors, etc.  When roomies are on the same page it is easier to get along!
  • Respect. Know personal boundaries and respect them.  Whether it’s noise, personal space, cleanliness, etc… No one wants a roommate that won’t be respectful – so know when to turn down your music, knock when your roommates door is closed, pick up your wet towels off the bathroom floor – all ways of showing you respect someone else.
  • Don’t Eat Your Room Mates Food. Just a big no-no.  I remember the time in college when a roommate snuck into a care package, ate a Hershey’s chocolate bar and then put the wrapper back together so it looked as if the candy was still there. Like it wouldn’t be noticed?  Ask, replace, respect and yes, then you can share each others food.
  • Split Expenses Equally. No one likes a cheapskate as a roommate.  Even if your roommate might be better off financially then you it is not their responsibility to shoulder more of the expenses.  Pull your weight.
  • Communicate. When there are issues set aside some time to talk it out rationally.
  • Humor.  Using a little humor to help communicate issues can make all the difference.

Oak Park Parking Guidelines & Restrictions

Living in historic Oak Park in a vintage apartment has many advantages – cool community, historic vibe, stunning architecture, vibrant city feel without some of the big city frustrations like parking.
Yes, many complain about the parking rules and regulations in Oak Park but in reality the parking here is so much easier and less expensive then if you lived in Chicago.  And Oak Park is always trying to figure out ways to improve the situation. Recently the Village held several forums to discuss and collect resident input on ways to simplify and improve parking throughout the community.
Presently these are Oak Park’s parking guidelines and restrictions:
Parking is prohibited on all streets from 2:30 to 6 a.m., seven days per week, year around, except when allowed by permit or pass.
Vehicles bearing permits are allowed to park on the street overnight in designated multifamily housing areas, except in front of churches, schools and parks and on blocks where housing is more than 50 percent single family.
In areas of Oak Park not zoned for multi-unit buildings or designated as permit areas, the overnight parking ban remains fully in effect.
Other parking restrictions are determined by location within the Village, length of parking time and even weather. For example, daytime restrictions include the following:
  • No parking 8 – 10 a.m., Monday – Friday
  • Two-hour parking 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday
  • No Parking 8 – 10 a.m., Tuesday for Street Cleaning
  • Resident Permit Parking Only
  • Student/staff permit parking only
At many of Oak Park Apartments properties parking is readily available for and additional fee – either through building owned and regulated parking, village owned and operated lots, spaces privately rented by neighborhood homeowners or in village designated on-street permit parking zones.

 

What do you do if you have an overnight visitor who has a car?

The Village of Oak Park will issue 3 free parking passes per year with an additional 7 passes for a fee for cars needing to park overnight on the street.  Residents must notify the Village every night if an overnight parking pass is needed.  This can be done by going online, downloading and using the Village parking app or calling in the vehicle at 708-716-0716. You will need to know and report the make, model and license plate of the vehicle that will be overnight on the street.

 

Aikia’s Peacock – An Off The Wall Mosaic Masterpiece

This year’s “Off The Wall” mosaic project, located at Oak Park Apartment’s 401 – 403 Washington Boulevard property, is complete and quite honestly presented more of a challenge then the mosaics of previous years.

This year we were going bold – our newly acquired and recently rehabbed property at 401 – 403 had a brick expanse on the front of the building that screamed for some Off The Wall love and attention.

We, at OPA, absolutely love the artistry and design of the Oak Park Area Arts Council’s Off The Wall masterpieces so we felt that adding the art on front could only enhance the look of the building.

Yet the reality is that we may not own the building forever. Future owners may have other ideas on how they want the front of their building to look so, if ever that time came, we wanted to be able to remove, relocate and protect the beauty of our peacock.

In past years the mosaic tiles were adhered directly to the brick of the building – not a big deal if the art work is on the side or the back of the building but definitely something that needed to be considered since the design was going to be a front and center focus.

How do we adhere the tile design to the front of the building so it is secure, doesn’t negatively impact the design and, if ever needed, could be removed while still preserving the design’s integrity?

Well collaboration was key in coming up with a solution. Master artist, Carolyn Elaine and Oak Park Apartments co-owner, Bob Planek joined forces to ensure that this year’s project would work both creatively as well as being engineeringly feasible.

And boy did their teamwork pay off! Using concrete slabs as the base, the mosaics were constructed on seven individual pieces, framed in aluminum and then placed together – and wow we are proud as, well, a peacock at the end results.

Aikia & Carolyn at the 2016 Off The Wall dedication

peacock is a symbol of “integrity and the beauty we can achieve when we endeavor to show our true colors”. It is these qualities that inspired this year’s masterpiece to be named in honor of assistant master artist, Aikia.  Aikia has dedicated herself year after year to mentoring the teen artists as they reach the full potential of their artistic talents through the Off The Wall summer project.

 

Keep Your Apartment Secure While You Are On Vacation

That long planned for, highly anticipated vacation is just around the corner.  You’ve made all your arrangements, researched your destination and packed your bags. You’re ready to go, right?

Almost.

In order to ensure that you have no surprises post – getaway, there are a few vacation security suggestions to add to your checklist before you leave:

Vacation Plans – Shhhh

Vacations are fun and it is natural to want to share your excitement. But, for the sake of security, it is a good idea not to let too many people know the details of when you are leaving. Also, make sure not to Facebook, tweet, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever the new hot social media trend may be, about your plans. Opportunists look for this information, so share your amazing vacations photos, just wait until you get home to do so.

Blinds – Open, Closed, A Little of Both 

Open blinds in rooms where no one can directly see into.  Close blinds in areas other people might have access to like a kitchen window off a back porch.

Timers

Put timers on lights and a t.v. or radio.  Make it look and sound like someone is home. Be sure to buy timers that turn on and off at varying intervals to give the appearance of real life. Some newer options allow you to control your lights by downloading an app to your smartphone.

Security Apps

There are a variety of mobile apps to chose from that alert, monitor, record, control and report any suspicious activity to allow you to best manage the level of security in your home while you are away.

Lock and Secure

Doors, windows, storage lockers – prevention is key.

Hide and Seek

Hide your valuables.  Be creative and store your laptop, jewelry, whatever is important to you in an area a criminal would not think to look – just make sure you remember where the location of your hiding place is!

Mail Hold

Finally, put a delivery hold on your mail – that way your mail box won’t be overflowing and your neighbors won’t even realize you’re gone.

Beat The Heat – 10 Tips To Stay Cool In Your Apartment

  • Turn on your ceiling fan and make sure it is rotating counterclockwise. Your ceiling fan can make a room 6 – 8 degrees cooler. 
  • Close all windows and curtains in rooms that receive direct sun light during the heat of the day.  
  • Open windows and interior doors in the cooler evening hours to allow cooler air to circulate through your apartment. You can help get rid of unwanted heat through ventilation if the temperature of the outside air is 77 degrees fahrenheit or lower. (This strategy works best at night and/or on cooler days.) 
  • Invest in room darkening curtains to further block out the heat of the sun plus, these go with you when you move.
  • Turn off incandescent lights, which produce a lot of heat and/or replace those heat producing incandescents with cooler, more energy efficient bulbs.
  • Run your dishwasher when it is cooler – in the early morning or later evening hours – dishwashers produce a lot of heat.
  • Place a bucket of ice in front of a fan – this is an easy hack that will cool you and your apartment down significantly.
  • Purchase a window air conditioning unit with an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of 10 or better.
  • Seal/insulate around your window air conditioning unit.
  • Turn off your window air conditioning unit if you are going to be gone from your apartment for more then an hour.

Tour Oak Park The “Wright” Way

Exceptional architecture is a vital part of what makes Oak Park a unique village. From Victorian to bungalow, Italianate to colonial, art deco to mid-century modern – Oak Park is a village that is proud of its’ rich, diverse, housing styles that add uniqueness and flair to our community.
No Oak Park architectural musings would be complete without highlighting the architect who helped to put Oak Park on the proverbial architectural map but Frank Lloyd Wright (celebrating his 150th this year as well!) and his Prairie style designs. There is no better way to experience some of Oak Park’s finest architectural offerings then by taking one of the many tours offered through the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio.
The options are many: daily tours of the home and studio, walking neighborhood tours, combination home and studio & neighborhood tours, guided bike tours, customized tours for larger groups, accessible tours, and interior tours of the completely renovated Unity Temple.
The docents on all guided tour options are a much added and appreciated bonus enhancing the experience by providing historical flavor, noteworthy insights into the properties, their owners and the architects that designed them.
Whether you already live in Oak Park, have recently moved to the Village or are just visiting Oak Park architecture should be on your “must do” list.

 

OPA Tenant Appreciation Movie Series Sets Attendance Records

In past summers Oak Park Apartments has shown our tenants a little love in different ways.  Coffee and snacks from local food trucks, company flair in the form of t-shirts, sponsorship for participation in various local charitable 5k’s, summer movies in the courtyard at our 301 Oak Park Ave. property shown on a big inflatable screen under the stars.
Well, all events were great to do, but honestly some were better attended then others. And, realistically the outdoor movies were tough for several reasons; bugs, humidity, rain, uncomfortable seating, more bugs, and so on. So, though the movies were what most people wanted to do according to feedback, they weren’t always drawing the crowds that we were hoping for. It was that piece of the attendance puzzle that we wanted to work on this year to ensure that a majority of the tenants in our 1,500 or so apartments had an opportunity, if they wanted, to participate.
So the idea to rent out the Lake Theater for our tenants to attend a preview of some of this summer’s soon to be blockbuster hits developed (thank you a5 Inc.!). Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Wonder Women and Despicable Me 3 were the chosen features for our three events. Theater space was secured and finally out went an email to our tenants letting them know of the event. We weren’t certain what type of response we were going to receive and were just hoping that we would get at least some replies.  Well, 30 minutes later our first scheduled movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, was sold out and with a waiting list that was getting longer by each passing minute. Our dedicated staff, not wanting to disappoint so many tenants, contacted the Lake Theater and was able to switch the premier to a theater space with more capacity!
With each passing premier word grew and more tenants participated – over 500 in total came out to share in the joy of kicking off the summer season with a bucket of popcorn, a hit movie and no threat of rain or pesky mosquitos to contend with!

 

 

Apartment Living Skills – Resetting A Tripped Circuit Breaker

In the early 1900’s, when most of Oak Park Apartments properties were originally built, a tenant’s basic needs for electricity was limited to lighting and a few basic appliances.
Air conditioners, laptops, dishwashers, cell phones; all of our 21st century amenities and technological needs have placed a greater demand on electrical services at these historic buildings.
In order to keep up with that demand and to guarantee safe housing Oak Park Apartments has worked with the Village of Oak Park and ComEd to upgrade electric circuits and wires at our properties so they are safe and able to handle today’s load.
The modern circuit breaker is designed to “trip” when the load capacity becomes too great. Tenants should know where their circuit breaker panel is located and how to reset a tripped circuit.
If repeated circuit breaker “trips” happen Oak Park Apartments requests that tenants contact management.
At times, after severe storms, buildings can suffer power outages.  Since multiple power lines can feed a single building there are instances when parts of a building or even rooms in an individual apartment can be out of power while other building areas or individual rooms don’t have any issues.
Please know that during these acts of nature the quick restoration of power is the goal but can be out of our control until ComEd is able to restore overall service to a specific area or power line.

 

The OPPL – Books Plus So Much More!

 

Oak Park’s Public Library system has full compliment of resources and services to offer to the Oak Park community.
Not only can you, as an Oak Park resident, receive a library card which gives you access to a huge array of books you can also borrow music, movies, games, magazines, journals, and newspapers in both hard copy and digital formats. Plus the recently added Kanopy streaming service allows Oak Park library patrons the ability to stream, for free, a variety of feature films, documentaries, and educational videos.
Need a place to meet? Group study rooms are reservable for free and meeting rooms are available to rent, unless you are a not-for-profit organization, then they are free as well. Computers, laptops, wireless connections, printing, scanning, faxing and copying services are all available to ensure your meeting or project will be supported for success.
Want to brush up on your business skills? Video tutorials on software, web design, business management, financial literacy, job/career guidance, social networking, etc. are all available through the libraries Lynda services, and all for free as well! You only need to register.
Museum passes are another library perk that often goes unheard of – passes may be borrowed and used at participating destinations such as Brookfield Zoo, Cantigny Park, Chicago Botanic Garden, Bronzeville Children’s Museum, and LegoLand Discovery Center, to name a few.
Do you need a document notarized?  Well the library even provides a notary, free of charge, at each of its’ branches – you just need to double check the dates and times the notary is scheduled at each location and make an appointment.
The library offers a calendar of events and classes that reaches out to any and everyone – from book clubs to podcast recording sessions, from basic internet how to to job skills workshops, from improv for kides to SAT prep study groups and that only scratches the surface!
Take some time to explore the Oak Park Public Libraries Main, Maze & Dole branches – there are so many resources right in your own backyard! And as of this summer, they are fine free too!