Pylons provoke a weighty Northbrook debate
"See this wall here? Gives you protection," says Ed Schubert of the Northbrook Dairy Queen. "These are 1- inch squares, two feet tall..."| Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2012 12:23PM
The infestation of emerald ash borers is impacting trees that are used for downtown parkway holiday lighting, stumping village lawmakers planning for these festivities.
And now another quandary — a call for building code changes requiring Northbrook glass storefront pylon retrofits.
“I have asked the Village Manager (Richard Nahrstadt) to do a survey of code requirements of comparable communities and provide that summary to the board for further direction,” said Northbrook Village President Sandy Frum Aug. 13.
Pylons, often cement-filled poles protecting storefronts from runaway vehicles, raise public ire when there’s an accident, often when drivers are elderly.
Except in these instances, when, in 2010, two accidents (with photos) were pretty much buried online in General Government weekly briefings (www.northbrook.il.us).
“Early in the afternoon on Sat., July 17, firefighters were called to the For Eyes store on Skokie Blvd. for a car striking the building,” reads a July 23, 2010, memo. “Companies found a single vehicle completely inside the store.”
A memo dated Nov. 5, 2010 states: “On Sat., October 30, at approximately 2:30 p.m.…a parked vehicle was struck and pushed into the building at 2770 Dundee Road (Dairy Queen).”
So I say, as a mom of six, imagine getting this phone call from your child:
“Mom, we’re OK…” but (just so you know) a car rammed Dairy Queen…
I had, count ‘em, three children working that same DQ shift.
While “no injuries were reported,” I remain outraged with fear.
Months earlier (July 17, 2010), I was myopically seated near For Eyes morning glass (with one third of my kids) where a car later gutted the interior.
My child’s eyeglass frames needed special ordering, because, well, oh, a car ran over them near where she had been standing.
And then two weeks ago, came another round of phone calls from a pylon-loving woman who tracked me down at Pioneer Press.
On Aug. 13, this woman, remaining anonymous, spoke of yet another driver exiting a running vehicle to mail a letter at the Northbrook Shopping Plaza walk-up mailbox.
So let me tell you, you can bet your sweet whatever I’m gonna ask questions.
“I was dumbfounded,” said our caller, of gambling drivers. “It blows my mind, what if a gear shifts?”
It is true yellow pylons exist at Northbrook Shopping Plaza.
“I think they’re (pylons) not too attractive, but if they can save a life, they’re worth every penny,” said our source, praying for a sign near the 1157 Church St. post office storefront.
Her suggested wording: “Do not get out of your car and leave it unattended with motor running!
“I wish we could get the police involved because I imagine it has to be illegal or stupid.”
Then there’s Northbrook Dairy Queen owner Ed Schubert, who dislikes pylons.
“Karie, I understand what you’re saying,” said Schubert, of requiring pylon retrofits or code changes, “but that’s like saying your chances (of being killed or maimed) are like being hit by lightning.”
This is where I tell Schubert I was actually struck by lightning (an arc) in the 1980s holding a metal tripod, knocking me on my younger whatever.
“But you can’t stop everything that’s going to happen,” said Schubert. “When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.
“You’re wrong (Karie), you know me, I don’t pull punches.”
But talking to Mr. Ed, my man, you know I have six kids…
“I understand that, right, it’s a bad experience, but I’ve been robbed three times at Dairy Queen, two of them were by gunpoint.”
Schubert, DQ owner since 1974, drives a snow plow.
“To put pylons in front of stores, all you’re creating is problems with snow and ice.
“What happens if a kid is there by the pylon (on the sidewalk)?”
Schubert favors low built-in walls supporting glass, which helped to halt that car before it entered the store.
“See this wall here? Gives you protection,” he said, pointing to the building corner.
“These are 12-inch squares, two feet tall...”
The Chicago Dirksen Federal Building (219 S. Dearborn), has three to four foot block rampart pylons protecting ground to ceiling main floor glass.
Said Rocky Tripathi, owner of Northbrook Otis & Lee Liquors (1026 Waukegan Rd.) which has six pylons out front: “We hear a lot of times that cars get into the store and it’s the older people who are drinking and driving.
“It (pylons) is a deterrent, in my case especially, I have very narrow parking.”
Otis & Lee storefront glass has been shattered, says Tripathi, citing “maybe at least five to six times a year minimum” that cars push pylons.
“I think more people would get hurt by pylons,” said Schubert.
“It (pylons) gives you a false sense of security,” added Schubert’s daughter, Courtney Shafron.
Of a village pylon study: “It’s a good idea,” says Tripathi.