Oak Park board: No way on Val's Way

Honorary street rejected by Oak Park Board of Trustees


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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park Board of Trustees rejected a proposal to designate an honorary street sign for the late Val Camilletti, the beloved local record purveyor, who died in July.

The honorary street would have run in front of Camilletti's record store, Val's halla Records, 239 Harrison St.

Trustee Jim Taglia was the sole yes vote on the proposal and Trustee Deno Andrews recused himself from the vote, stating that it was a conflict of interest because he is serving as executor of Camilletti's estate.

Andrews is the trustee who proposed the honorary street for Camilletti.

Trustees said they opposed the measure because of the slippery slope of honorary streets becoming more common.

Trustee Bob Tucker said he loved Camilletti and loved the store but added, "I don't want to get into the habit of doing honorary streets."

Trustee Jim Taglia said he could get behind this particular honorary street designation, but it should be the only one. "I can't say there's a groundswell of support for a street naming program," he said.

Andrews said after the vote that he was disappointed but felt his colleagues' reasons were valid. "I understand not wanting to set a precedent or start a street-naming program," he said. "I respect their vote."

Meanwhile, friends and family of Camilletti gathered at FitzGerald's nightclub in Berwyn on Sunday, Sept. 16, to celebrate Camilletti's life.

Oak Parker Andy Mead, a longtime friend of Camilletti, a former store employee, and a current Wednesday Journal employee, said about 300 people attended the event, which raised about $4,000 for Val's favorite local causes: the Animal Care League of Oak Park, MusiCares and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Performers and specials guests included XRT DJ Terri Hemmert, The What 4, Expo 76, Ian Leith, Falling Stars, Beatle-leles and Live To Sing, a 50-plus member choir, which surrounded the crowd to sing Val's favorite choral piece.

"It was an amazing gathering and celebration," Mead said. "Val always welcomed kids, artists, musicians, pet owners, misfits, and we were all there Sunday — as was she — she was in the room."

This article was updated to correct Trustee Jim Taglia's vote. 

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: September 24th, 2018 6:47 PM

On the upside, this will prohibit any thought of an Anan Abu-Taleb Avenue. I mean, alliteration can only be carried so far.

Linda Vasquez from Oak Park   

Posted: September 21st, 2018 5:38 AM

I bet the board would pass a Val Halla tax, a playing an album Val Halla violation fee & an honorary sign Val Halla street tax for OP households earning less than $60,000 per year! #YeahISaidIt

Kline Maureen  

Posted: September 20th, 2018 6:07 PM

now if only there were a Val's Halla Foundation that could fund raise to buy her childhood home, or perhaps some interim home of hers and move it to that long-empty lot on South Blvd. just east of OP Ave, and turn it into a tourist site, perhaps we could be signing a different tune :-)

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: September 20th, 2018 4:55 PM

I think their point may be that if you are going to honor a business owner like Val, than there are whole bunch of people we should also honor. There are no signs for Rich Gloor, John Sprafka, Bob Sassetti, and many others who had businesses in Oak Park for similar or longer periods of time. Wright, Hemingway and Julian were national figures.The most important thing is that we all remember Val for the great person she was. I always loved talking music with her. They should put her picture up at Village Hall. That is the least they could do. Ok, you can all fire away me.

Jason Ralph  

Posted: September 20th, 2018 3:54 AM

village board missed a HUGE opportunity to honor a longtime local business owner who EVERY oak parker knew and loved. for shame. this "mayor" and his bunch of pro-business, pro-development toadies won't do anything for businesses that don't generate enormous property taxes or employ 20+ minimum wage workers. nevermind honoring an icon of the Chicago music scene. val was adored by customers, like me, who bought their first album in her store and picked up radio playlists every week. but she was also loved by the musicians she supported. as an oak park native, i attribute my love of architecture to frank lloyd wright, my love of reading to ernest hemingway (both of whom have oak park streets that bear their name) and my love of music to val camilletti. the day we lost her was a sad day in the village. but monday was a sad night for the short-sighted village board.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: September 18th, 2018 9:32 PM

The idea was floated incorrectly.After posting sign, VOP should have printed collectors issued signs for the general public, sold them to make extra cash. Donovan Pepper, long time no hear.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: September 18th, 2018 9:24 PM

Not wishing to "set a precedent" could be used as an argument to oppose almost anything. WHY should a precedent not be set? And as others have observed, what prevents the board from exercising its discretion to keep such designations from getting out of hand?

Steve Bankes  

Posted: September 18th, 2018 9:21 PM

Good lord, do we have trustees or den mothers looking after things around here? Slippery slope? The worst possible excuse for inaction.

Deno J. Andrews from Oak Park  

Posted: September 18th, 2018 7:37 PM

Just a couple points of clarification. It was not a unanimous vote- Jim Taglia voted yes. I recused myself to avoid any perceived conflict of interest due to my being nominated to be the administrator to Val's estate. While my colleagues made good points, I'd be lying if I said that wasn't very disappointed by this vote. Val made a positive impact on this village spanning nearly a half century.

Tom Carraher  

Posted: September 18th, 2018 6:24 PM

It should have been on that sliver of South Blvd and Oak Park by the original store.

Donovan Pepper from Oak Park  

Posted: September 18th, 2018 5:25 PM

I agree with you Amy, this is really shocking. It's not like they were talking about renaming Harrison St. for her. It was an "honorary street sign"....no other legal street sign changes would've been necessary. While I understand the "slippery slope" argument, guidelines could be developed to prevent this. However, not honoring a long-time business operator and some might say "legend" in the Village, is a real missed opportunity.

Leonard Grossman  

Posted: September 18th, 2018 5:22 PM


Julie Carpenter  

Posted: September 18th, 2018 5:21 PM

Precedents are already out there....Frank Lloyd Wright Lane, Hemingway Lane, Percy Julian Square, so don't get the logic.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: September 18th, 2018 5:14 PM

If the Board can't find a way to generate higher property taxes from it, they're not interested...

Amy Srodon from Oak Park  

Posted: September 18th, 2018 4:17 PM

Wow, really? How hard would it have been to do this one nice thing? Seems incredibly small-minded and mean-spirited, considering Val was an OP business owner for nearly 50 years. If the board is so anguished over the possibility of having to designate other honorary streets, why not have a guideline that the person should've contributed to the betterment of Oak Park for at least 40 years, or something like that? Why not err on the side of kindness for once?

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