OPA Blog

Severe Weather Preparedness Week

 

 

 

 

 

Illinois is ranked fifth in the nation in tornado frequency per square mile and averages 45 tornado incidents per year. Last weeks earlier then anticipated start to the tornado season makes it even more important to have a severe weather plan in place and to know how and when to act on it.
Developing an effective strategy includes:
  • Have a plan 

    You may only have seconds to act from the time the siren sounds until a storm hits. The safest place is a basement.  If there is no basement, go to an interior closet, hall or bathroom on the lowest floor and stay away from windows. Cover your head with pillows or sofa cushions.
  • Practice 

    A brief drill and discussion about storm safety only makes sense.
  • Monitor 

    Listen for the tornado warning signal, tune into T.V. or radio weather stations and monitor the situation so you can be ready to act.  NOAA Weather Radio is the best means to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. The Village of Oak Park also has its own emergency notification service that will keep you posted via phone, email or text once you register. 
  • Be Aware 

    A severe thunderstorm or tornado watch means severe thunderstorms or tornadoes are possible in your area over several hours. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted by a trained storm spotter, or Doppler radar has detected conditions that will likely produce a tornado.
  • Act 

    During a tornado warning you should get to a safe place immediately. Do not hesitate to protect yourself and your loved ones. Go to your predetermined safe place, continue to monitor, if possible, and listen for the “all clear” tornado signal.

 

Getting Your Security Deposit Back

 

Oak Park Apartments, like all other reputable apartment management companies, requires a security deposit as a part of the terms of a tenant lease.
But what Oak Park Apartments really wants is to make sure you get your deposit back at the end of your lease agreement.
Why?  
Because we want you to be happy and we want our apartments to be in good condition. A win, win for all involved.
So here’s what you have to do as a tenant:
  • When you move in take note of existing problems.
  • Take pictures of your apartment – this is a good memory tool for both the tenant and the management company – plus its easy to do with your phone.
  • If there are repairs that need to be done then go to OPA’s website and fill out a maintenance request.
  • When your lease is up and a move date is scheduled it is time to thoroughly clean your apartment – which means thoroughly cleaning your refrigerator, stove, microwave, countertops, sink, toilet, tub, cabinets and floors – it will make a difference in ensuring you get your full deposit returned.
  • Before turning in your keys it’s time to again take pictures of your apartment in order to show the condition it is in at the end of your lease.
  • Turn in your apartment keys to management on or before the last day of your lease.
  • Provide a forwarding address so that your security deposit can be mailed to your new address – you can expect a check between 30 – 45 days.
Know that Oak Park Apartments strives for customer satisfaction, understands that normal daily wear and tear is different than true apartment damage and will return your security deposit if all terms of the lease have been met.

How to Hire a Qualified Moving Company

Moving is stressful.  Here are a few tips to simplify the process.
Before even considering what mover to hire sort through your things and decide what you can donate or get rid of because why move (and pay to have moved) things you no longer use or want.
Take an assessment of what you will actually require movers to move and what you can do yourself.  Your huge couch, bedroom set and flat screen t.v. might be best left to the capable hands of a moving company.
Get names and numbers of moving companies from friends – word of mouth is your best resource when selecting a reputable company. Look at online rating sites for reviews. Double check those companies with the American Moving and Storage Association to see if a moving company is a member. AMSA members are licensed, insured, comply with federal regulations, abide by ethical business practices and receive acceptable Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings.
Next, contact those moving companies to ask for an estimate. Know/list what you want moved. Many companies will actually come to you to provide a free estimate.
Movers charge between $70 – $100 an hour.  Be wary of pricing on either side of those ranges. Don’t pick a mover who bases their fees on weight – you could be in for a hefty surprise.
During the estimate process ask the representative from the moving company specific questions, such as:
  1. What extra charges could be incurred during a move?  You may not have enough information when the estimate is being given to completely cover all moving scenarios so its good to ask the expert.
  2. What is the estimated time the movers will arrive and will you be notified by the driver prior to arrival on your move day?
  3. About how long should the move take?  This is especially important to ask when you are being charged by the hour.  If the move seems to be taking much longer you might want to check in with someone in charge at the moving company.
  4. What supplies will the moving company provide?  Wardrobe boxes are very handy and might be worth an extra fee if you have many hanging clothes.
  5. What type of payment will the moving company accept; cash, credit card, check, personal or certified?
  6. When is payment expected?  Do not pay in full for a move prior to the move – EVER!
  7. Will the movers disassemble and then reassemble all items during the moving process?
  8. All legitimate moving companies carry insurance.  Ask for a copy of their policy.
  9. Ask if there are any additional fees – if there are, think twice about that company.  If the moving representative assures you there are no additional fees make certain that it is stated in your contract.
  10. Ask for references and then be sure to call the people on that list.
Prior to the move date you should notify the apartment management companies at both your present residence and the one you are moving in order to make any necessary parking arrangements for the moving truck.
Finally, if the moving company has done a great job, tip them.  The general rule is 15 – 20% for protecting and transporting your valuables.

Coffee: A Key Ingredient To Relationship Building

Today, being Valentine’s Day, is an important day to discuss tips for building a relationship.
Respect and trust are essential.  Yet, here in Oak Park, another key ingredient is coffee.
You are probably wondering what could coffee possibly have to do with relationships.
Simply stated coffee has taken on a higher purpose here in Oak Park in the form of Live Cafe.

Live Cafe is Oak Park’s newest coffee house located at 163 South Oak Park Avenue, in one of Oak Park Apartment’s commercial spaces.  And we know they are a special business.
What makes Live Cafe, one amongst many businesses who are selling great cups of coffee, different from the rest?
Its’ mission.
Live Cafe’s mission is to not only serve an exceptional local brew but to forge a lasting bond between the Oak Park and the Austin communities by opening its’ doors to share coffee and conversation. It is with these intentional steps towards understanding that real relationships will be established based on respect and trust. And that respect and trust will be what makes a genuine, positive, highly caffeinated impact on both of our communities.
So we at Oak Park Apartments are asking all who want a more meaningful connection between the Oak Park and Austin communities to make the effort to visit Live Cafe, enjoy some java and start to make relationships happen.

The History Behind Black History Month

 

Carter G. Woodson, son of former slaves, valued education from an early age. Growing up poor Woodson was largely self-taught.  Unable to regularly attend school he mastered core subjects on his own until, at the age of 20, he entered high school and earned his diploma in under two years. Woodson then went on to both teach and become principal at Douglass High School, from where he had graduated.
Continuing on his educational journey Woodson graduated from Berea College with a Bachelor of Literature degree, the University of Chicago with both a Bachelor and Masters degree in history and lastly, from Harvard University with a Ph.d in history. He was the second African American to receive a doctorate degree from Harvard.
Dr. Woodson’s education in literature and history exposed him to some real truths about how history books ignored African American and other cultures. He stated, “if a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” It is at that point that he became determined to change how people thought about black history.
Co-founding the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in 1915, Woodson and others took charge of studying, celebrating and promoting African American history.  Woodson and the ASALH then worked to establish “Negro History Week” to “bring attention to his mission and help school systems coordinate their focus on the topic.”  The second week in February was chosen in respect to the birthdates of Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) and Fredrick Douglass (February 14th).
Over time the number of activities associated with “Negro History Week” grew too great to be contained to just one week so, in 1976, president Gerald Ford formally decreed February as Black History Month.
Dr. Woodson, along with many others who believe that education is a powerful tool to defeat racism, have changed the way people think and live.  And for that we are grateful.

The people of Oak Park choose this community, not just as a place to live, but as a way of life. Oak Park has committed itself to equality not only because it is legal, but because it is right; not only because equality is ethical, but because it is desirable for us and our children. Ours is a dynamic community that encourages the contributions of all citizens, regardless of race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital and/or familial status, mental and/or physical impairment and/or disability, military status, economic class, political affiliation, or any of the other distinguishing characteristics that all too often divide people in society. – Oak Park Diversity Statement

 

 

Recycling Resolutions 2017

Every new year people resolve to improve in some way. By the end of January that resolve may have waivered. But January isn’t over yet people.  And since January is cold and gray what better way to stay warm but to de-clutter your apartment. 
And as long as you are getting rid of some stuff you might as well do it in a way that is friendly to our environment.
Donate or sell items you no longer need, like or use. Someone else will need, like and use them and that is the best way to recycle and be green. Social media is a great option to help make this happen. Virtual garage sales, Crain’s List, Mom’s Mail are all local options that help to get the stuff you no longer want to people who want your stuff.
Next, go from room to room and set some goals. Is the overstuffed medicine cabinet driving you crazy?? Well, then put it on your list to sort, pitch and organize. The Village of Oak Park provides proper, green disposal of unused and/or expired medications at the Village Hall location. What about all those old electronics that are piling up in closets and drawers? Once again the Village of Oak Park is helping to make recycling happen with several electronic specific recycling events scheduled throughout the year.  In fact, the Village of Oak Park has provided Oak Park with a recycling resource guide that can help you decide how to best recycling many items.
Reduce clutter before it comes in the door by opting out of all that junk mail.
Why recycle?
When you recycle you help:
  • Reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills
  • Conserve natural resources
  • Help sustain the environment for future generations
  • Help create the more than 4,500 products that use recycled materials

 

Apartment Security & Safety Tips

Here at Oak Park Apartments tenant safety is number one. In order to ensure that our tenants are as safe as possible we are offering some simple precautionary security tips that anyone can easily put into practice.

 

  • List only your last name on your doorbell/mailbox.
  • If you are living by your self add another “fake” last name to your doorbell/mailbox to give the impression that you are not alone.
  • Be alert when walking to and from your apartment – and no earbuds!
  • Get to know your neighbors and building staff.
  • Never let a stranger into your building. No matter how harmless they may look.
  • An unpublished/unlisted phone number is smart (and yes, you can do this with a cell phone number).
  • Be smart on social media.  Do not advertise a vacation or time away from your apartment before you leave.
  • Download a free safety app to your smartphone. Practice how to use it.
  • Make sure all door/window locks work – if not report it – then make sure to keep them locked.
  • Close your blinds. Do not let the world know your comings and goings.
  • Be informed on what type of crime is in your area.
  • Use timers on lights and/or your T.V. – especially when are away – you are less likely to be robbed if it looks or sounds like someone is home.
  • When lights burn out in the halls and stairwells – report it.
  • Take in mail, newspapers and packages daily.
  • Report suspicious activity. Trust your gut. Call the Oak Park police non-emergency number or if you feel you are in danger call 911 immediately.

Beat Back Winter At The Oak Park Conservatory

It’s mid-winter. The weather is cold, gray and dreary. Spring seems like a long ways away.  
So how do you beat the winter blues and give yourself a taste of spring, all while staying in Oak Park?
By visiting one of Oak Park’s treasures, the Oak Park Conservatory, for that much needed respite.
The Oak Park Conservatory offers a local escape from the elements for the weather weary that is both beautiful and free – though a good will donation is suggested and appreciated in order to help maintain this fabulous structure.
The Oak Park Conservatory’s Edwardian-style glass structure was built in 1929 and presently houses “more than 3,000 plants, some of which date back to the Conservatory’s founding.”
The Conservatory is one of the top 3 historical sites in Oak Park and boasts fern, tropical and desert rooms to roam through.
Also offered along with the beauty of the Conservatory’s botanical displays are seasonal events, educational gatherings, gardening and artistic workshops, volunteer opportunities and more.
So, Oak Parkers, if you have not yet experienced the wonder and tranquility of the Oak Park Conservatory make your way to 615 Garfield Street, step inside and fool yourself into thinking it is spring!

Apartment Etiquette 101

Some people “get it” and well, some people just “don’t” when it comes to being a good neighbor.
No judgement, but a little lesson on how to be respectful when living in close quarters with others may be just what this world needs to hear as we start the new year.
Noise – The number one neighbor complaint. Whether you are having a party, running a vacuum or walking across your hardwood floors in the early morning hours you need to remember that other people live all around you.  So if you are having a party watch the volume or make sure to invite your neighbors.  If you feel the need to clean keep it between reasonable hours, 9 – 9 seems like common sense.  Are you up at 5 a.m. for work?  If so leave off those hard soled shoes while you pace back and forth across your apartment practicing the presentation you’ve prepared for your client. And, any guests you invite to your apartment, should be noise respectful as well.
Pets – Excessive, continuous pet noises are not o.k., either is aggressive behavior. Not everyone is a pet person so be considerate.  Cleaning up after your pet does its “stuff” is a good neighbor must which absolutely includes litter box maintenance.
Parking – Watch how and where you park. Respect the lines.  If you parked poorly and are hugging one side of your space with your car pull out and try again so your parking neighbor doesn’t get the squeeze. Don’t double park. Blocking someone in is just plain wrong, always and forever.  And the most grievous of parking sins – parking in someone else’s space, even for a minute, is an absolute no-no.
Laundry – Keep track of the time.  Know how long a wash and dry cycle takes and then switch your laundry when that time is up.  No one should have to wait for more then 10 to 15 minutes after a wash/dry cycle is done for someone to change or fold their laundry.  And while your at it – clean out the lint after your clothes are done drying.  Your clothes, your lint.  On the reverse – do not move someone else’s clothes out of the wash into a dryer or worse yet, in a heap on the folding table.  Give that person 10 – 15 minutes to take care of their wet laundry on their own. Same with the dryer – but after 15 minutes, if no one is removing their laundry, it is o.k. to nicely (yes, nicely) remove and place the laundry on a clean folding table.
Garbage/Recycling – Don’t hog the dumpsters.  Break down boxes and compact what you are throwing out or recycling so the receptacles can be used by everyone.  Properly bag your garbage and take it out regularly.  No one ever needs to smell someone else’s garbage through their apartment walls when there are conveniently located garbage cans readily available.
Smoking – Not at Oak Park Apartments. Ever. All of our properties are smoke free so there should be no smoke smells of any kind coming from your place.
Tolerance & Patience – Remember to show others the same respect and kindness that you would like to be shown to you.  And that includes when you speak to our apartment management staff. Asking, in a courteous tone, is the appropriate way to interact with other human beings in every situation.

Decorating Tips For Small But Spacious Apartment Living

Living in a small space can be a challenge in an era where acquiring more “things” is a part of societies consumeristic nature.  But, if you would like your apartment to feel spacious, simple is the way to go.
To achieve the open airy feeling in your small space, the first step is to de-clutter and then organize what you have, creatively storing items out in the open.
Furniture does not have to be small but if you are using big pieces less is more.  Armless sofas and/or chairs allows for a more spacious feel in a living room.

 

Choose a sofa that shows its’ “legs” not one with a “skirt” – this creates a more open feel as well as looking modern.
Find furniture that is versatile.  Ottomans that can serve as storage or seating. A coffee table that can be used as an office desk.  Or choose pieces that can be folded, stacked or wheeled away when not in use.
Float your furniture.  Anchor that sofa on an area rug with the front legs on the rug and the back legs off.  That sofa table we mentioned above will look great behind that sofa and is multi-purpose.

 

Floor to ceiling bookcases or shelving are great way to maximize your storage as well as creating the feeling of horizontal space. And leave some empty space on those shelves – that helps to keep the “airy” vibe.
Use architectural mirrors either hung on the wall or larger mirrors placed strategically on the floor to reflect the light and open up a small space.
Finally, let in the light!  Sheer curtains in a living room can make a space feel larger while still maintaining privacy.
These few basic decorating tips will allow you to live “large” and love the simplicity of small space living.