Friend lobbies for Val's halla Way

Honorary street would be Oak Park's second

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

In the streets of Chicago you'll find hundreds of honorary signs commemorating the lives of notable — and some not-so-notable — Chicagoans, but in Oak Park you'll only find one: Dominic Meo Memorial Way at the corner of Pleasant Place and South Marion Street.

The sign honoring the celebrated Oak Parker was installed in 1993 in remembrance of the man who led the Community Chest for years and was instrumental in getting Mills Park Tower, an subsidized-housing high-rise built.

Oak Park is now poised to get its second memorial street sign with the death of beloved music purveyor Val Camilletti, 78, who owned and operated Val's halla Records at 239 Harrison St. 

Bill McClung, former owner of the K9 Cookie Company, a boutique for dogs at 171 S. Oak Park Ave., which closed in 2012, became friends with Camilletti when her record store was located at 723½ South Blvd. 

McClung said he contacted the Oak Park Board of Trustees following Camilletti's death on July 24.

His only response was from Trustee Deno Andrews, who is now pushing to have the honorary street sign put in place.

McClung recalled his time getting to know Camilletti as fellow business owners and volunteers with the Oak Park Animal Care League. He said the outpouring of love for Camilletti throughout the village over the last few weeks gave him the idea for the street sign.

"I thought we could do something more for her to be more complimentary to her," he said. 

McClung suggested the honorary sign be placed near her old shop at the corner of South Boulevard and South Oak Park Avenue, but Andrews said the sign might make more sense at her current location in the Oak Park Arts District at 239 Harrison St.

David Powers, a spokesman for the village of Oak Park, said in an email that there is no formal process in place for designating honorary streets, "so village board action would be required to do so."

Andrews said in a telephone interview that he has put in an official request to have the issue brought up by the board of trustees.

"I think it will be cool," he said. "Hopefully, there will be support from my colleagues."

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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James Helfer from Des Moines  

Posted: August 29th, 2018 4:59 PM

How about naming Harrison Street after the person that started it all? My mother Trustee Susan Helfer. She started the Harrison Street Neiborhood Organization, and was chosen by the Oak Leaves as 1 of the top 100 most fluental people in the hundred year history of Oak Park.

Lisa Nordstrom  

Posted: August 10th, 2018 11:01 AM

If the village will steer clear of charging exorbitant fees for lost parking revenue (in an area where they don't even lose parking revenue for a one-day street closure), perhaps an existing annual festival with music (What's Blooming) could continue to take place on a street named in Val's honor where Val's Halla Records still exists (Harrison Street in the Oak Park Arts District).

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: August 10th, 2018 8:25 AM

Nice one, Maureen. Then the Village can charge it a fee for lost parking revenue.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: August 9th, 2018 11:32 PM

Why not combine a street with a music venue and have a street festival in her honor with lots of good music? /sarcasm

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: August 9th, 2018 10:22 PM

It shouldn't be a street. It should be a music venue. Someplace to listen to music. Maybe a public music booth or an all important music practice hall or recording room.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: August 9th, 2018 5:02 PM

Agree. While they are at it, why not consider naming streets to honor the late Marge Houck, Elsie Jacobsen, Art Repogle, John Thorpe, etc? Certainly they made equally important contributions to our communities.

Janet Saeger  

Posted: August 9th, 2018 4:55 PM

River Forest has it's share of honorary street signs too! We appreciate people who have made our village great.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: August 7th, 2018 3:36 PM

This is a great idea. Placing it on Harrison would be most appropriate. While Val's old store was on South Boulevard, she grew up on Harrison Street in Chicago, about a 12 blocks directly east of her current store. Just a thought.

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