Park Ridge Residents Come Together to Share and Shape their Future

Community Workshop | June 25th, 2019 @ 6:00 pm | Park Ridge Library

Big thanks to everyone who joined us on Tuesday, June 25th for the Park Ridge Wonderful Visioning Workshop, an event of the City’s New Comprehensive Planning process. The community workshop, the first in a series of three, took place from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm at the much-loved Park Ridge Library. It was a delightful summer evening filled with new and familiar faces. Everyone who came out was eager to learn about the what, why and how of the comprehensive plan and do their part to share insights near and dear to improving the future of Park Ridge. Special thanks to our friends at the Park Ridge Public Library for hosting the event!

What is a Comprehensive Plan… and why now?

A lot of planning has been done over the past 5-10 years, but Park Ridge’s last Comprehensive Plan is going on 20+ years old. It goes without saying that a lot can, and has changed, in the course of two decades, so it’s due time that we check back in with the community to see where opportunities and needs reside! The comprehensive plan is an opportunity for Park Ridge residents to take fresh look at their City – what works and should be maintained, what opportunities remain pending or needed, and what new items need to be addressed or improved. Just as we are living, evolving beings – so too are cities!

The Park Ridge Comprehensive Plan will inform physical, social, and economic development, and serve as a key tool in informing the City budget and organizing community initiatives for the next 10 years. While the Comprehensive Plan will ultimately be a key guiding element for the City, the guiding element of the plan is you! This is YOUR community, YOUR plan, and YOUR future. Furthermore, comprehensive plans come about every decade or so… so don’t wait – NOW is the time to share your ideas.

“Being a commissioner on the Planning and Zoning committee I really appreciate this project and hope many others share their opinions. We want to hear from residents and people who want to see improvements as it will allow us to better understand community wishes and goals for the future… Your comments here will assist our board in finding that correct balance. Share this link (www.parkridgewonderful.com) and encourage your friends and neighbors to join this forum!”

– Idea submitted via the project website

A Warm Welcome, Followed by Bright Ideas

As folks arrived at the Library, they were greeted at a welcome table where they could sign-in and receive a workshop menu highlighting the evening’s activities.  A large fishbowl filled with plentiful amounts of candy was also on hand to provide folks with a sweet, evening pick-me-up.

The workshop kicked-off with a warm welcome from Jim Brown, Community Preservation and Development Director for the City of Park Ridge. Mr. Brown explained the need to update the 1996 comprehensive plan, noting the primary goal is to understand residents’ vision and to identify challenges and opportunities. He then introduced Teska Associates, Inc., an Evanston-based community planning and engagement firm, who was hired by the City to lead community outreach efforts as part of the Comprehensive Plan.

Erin Cigliano, Principal with Teska Associates and Project Outreach Coordinator introduced the project, anticipated timeline, engagement process, and outreach findings to date. At present, over 150+ responses to Poll #1 were received (Poll #1 closed 6/28 – Poll #2 coming soon), 60+ ideas have been shared via the project website (view them for yourself by clicking here), 180+ ideas were recorded at June 8th Farmers’ Market Idea Booth, and many more from a series of stakeholder interviews conducted in April 2019.

“There are three project phases,” Cigliano noted. “The visioning phase, plan elements phase, and drafting phase. Within each there will be a community workshop (like this!), an online poll, commission check-in, and pop-up event. As more ideas and feedback come into play, we will continue to refine themes and report back on trends and priorities. The goal for tonight and throughout the project is to come together as a community to build consensus on those objectives that matter most towards improving quality of life in Park Ridge.”

Another highlight of the presentation was spotlighting marketing efforts, the project website www.parkridgewonderful.com, and the Park Ridge Wonderful Facebook page, which will be used to promote upcoming events and workshops. Please note, ideas should be shared through the website www.ParkRidgeWonderful.com versus being posted to social media.  

Ideas shared via the project website and visioning poll

Blue Sky Thinking: Workshop Provides 4-Ways-2-Share

Workshop-goers were provided a variety of ways to express feedback, all at their own pace and order. The activities asked residents to consider quality of life via 4-main project areas: (1) economic development, (2) environment + infrastructure, (3) community character, and (4) transportation + safety. Within each topic, sub-categories were also highlighted to help jump-start creative thinking, e.g. public art, housing, biking, recycling, composting, jobs, parking, streetscape, etc.

  1. Think Space Banners were taped-up to jot down open-ended ideas by topic;
  2. Pick-N-Stick Priority Boards were provided for voting on emerging focus areas;
  3. A Comment Map was provided for folks to mark-up and note place-based input; and
  4. An Input Mailbox allowed participants to share private feedback via comment cards.

“This night is all about being open, organic, and collaborative. I recommend sharing those ideas that are ‘top of mind’ right out of the gates via the Think Space Banners… then circling back to see what others have noted.”

– Erin Cigliano, Outreach Coordinator

And share, people did. Residents took their time, asked questions, conversed with one another, and bounced back and forth between stations as they weighed priorities and instrumental music lulled in the background. Highlighted on the pages that follow are community comments, ideas, priorities, and themes for each topic.

“I want to be able to go places to eat where it’s not about drinking. Places like Sonny’s Express where you can sit and enjoy a sandwich. Also, uses that cater to shopping in Uptown – I miss that; businesses should stay open later.”

Workshop comment

Comment Map Insights

Input noted on the comment map primarily focused on business development, activating Park Ridge’s core through strategic development, a parking structure wrapped with retail and residential (with a glass entrance / atrium so it is bright and inviting), addressing traffic circulation, congestion, problem intersections, and a general goal of less asphalt / more development in Uptown.

“Uptown is filled with parking lots. No more parking lots, less asphalt – and install a mini traffic circle in the centre of town to ease congestion.”

Idea shared at workshop

General Input

  • Define economic development zones by type; publicize, offer incentives to fill vacancies
  • Parks with community gardens at various locations

Dee Road / Oakton Street Input

  • Traffic analysis for vehicle circulation (2 lanes at stop light, no one turns left)
  • Focus on business development at Village Green Shopping Center

South Park, Cumberland and Devon Avenue Input

  • Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations
  • Review parking restrictions that are blocking businesses from investing in existing places; more restaurants are needed

Dempster Street / Western Avenue Input (near Advocate General Lutheran Hospital)

  • Electric Vehicle charging station

Uptown Input

  • Mini-traffic circle (3 votes)
  • Relieve Greenwood traffic by extending Cumberland north under railroad tracks to Busse
  • One-way traffic around centre of town
  • Get rid of AT&T building
  • Focus on activating the center of town with more business development
  • Rethink traffic route / intersection at Metra where 5 streets and train intersect
  • Develop the library parking lot into:
  • Hidden multi-story parking wrapped by
  • New building for mixed use / townhomes / condos;
  • New commercial building from library could expand to hose events / functions;
  • All visible architecture to be consistent and integrated with existing.
Architectural “Birds Eye” Rendering of ideas noted above, provided at workshop by resident

Topic 1: Community Character

Think Space Banner Themes: More Art, Iannelli Inspired Gateways, Housing for All, Schools

  • Murals/public art expressing many sentiments/messages + highlighting local artists and children
  • Let’s be a “Living Room” community!
  • Please Public Art – a lot of it!
  • Vibrant schools are critical. Prioritize education of all children – civil behavior focus.
  • Full-day kindergarten, not having it is a competitive disadvantage.
  • Schools should welcome and leverage growing multi-lingual population. Dual language programs are good for all children.
  • Don’t fear the multi-family developments. They allow aging residents to stay in the community when single family homes no longer fit their needs.
    • also allow for younger people to move in and transition to bigger homes.
  • Renovate the Union Pacific Bridge over Touhy that is a beautiful deco design that is falling apart – east side was improved several years ago as it was dangerous. Time to finish the west side, paint, and provide night accent lighting.
  • Visit and promote the Iannelli Studios
  • Mosaic mural (like Sauganash) celebrating Park Ridge history/culture and people who modeled leadership.
  • Book musicians to play at the Pickwick.
  • Encourage artists to display work (murals, sculptures, etc.)
  • Maximize curb-appeal
  • Alfonso Iannelli: Promote the sprites of Alfonso Iannelli, large scale, at City borders so you see as a gateway feature when you enter the City: Touhy and Dee, Touhy and ½ mile east of Prospect, Devon and Canfield, Devon and Dee, etc.

U-Pick Priorities

Project Theme Votes
Continue to support quality neighborhoods schools 15
Maintain/enhance character of residential neighborhoods 14
Encourage community gardens/interactive access to nature 12
Encourage a mix of housing options 10
Provide housing options for empty-nesters and seniors 9
Discourage teardowns of smaller homes 7
Incorporate public art into corridors and streetscapes 7
Support homeownership and quality rental opportunities 6
Attract young couples and families to live in Park Ridge 6
Beautify parks and open spaces 5

Topic 2: Economic Development

Think Space Banner Themes: Retail Variety, Development Improvement and Marketing, Activities for All

  • Park Ridge needs business diversity and support
  • Integrate the existing retail located north and south of Touhy with development of the library parking lot as described on the comment map (see rendering image)
  • Budget for more focused marketing of Park Ridge to businesses
    • Explore a joint venture with Chamber of Commerce
  • Small Target at Village Green
  • We need diversity to attract families from other areas
  • More daycare options from birth – pre-school age; very limited
  • We need shop variation, such as bookstores and retail places, to get gifts
  • Parking needs to align with uses, activities and timing
  • Economic plan that focuses on business diversity types
    • Consider referring to Niles and their methods
  • What does Park Ridge offer to the Tweens/Teens – we need more for these age groups – Evanston and Oak Park have more to offer
  • Do something to bring more companies to the already existing corporate buildings on NW Highway. I have lived here 6 years and occupancy is always available. Incentivize!
  • Follow Elmhurst’s lead – they encourage investment in businesses including signage and usage of existing spaces that will lead to hobs and revenue
  • Businesses should stay open later

U-Pick Priorities

Project Theme Votes
Focus on business attraction and growth 19
Support local and small businesses 18
Adjust zoning to support quality development in business districts 9
Attract more restaurants 8
Food hall/indoor winter farmers market 6
Attract young professionals 5
Indoor kids space and with café/wifi for parents 5
Flex-entertainment venue (music, comedy, events) 5
Targeted city marketing/brand refresh 4
Strengthen employment and occupation diversity 3

Topic 3: Environment + Infrastructure

Think Space Banner Themes: Recycling/Composting, More Trees, Infrastructure Improvement

  • City-wide fall leaf pick-up/recycle
  • Inclusive participation for flooding solutions
  • Permeable pavement/parking lots
  • Continue incentives for residents to recycle/compost/use rain barrels
  • Encourage food scrap collection and curbside + restaurants
  • Incentives for businesses to recycle
  • Encourage recycling; Park Ridge needs full community buy-in to recycle correctly – very detailed but doable and important, educate
  • Can we have a team that encourages Green Block Parties?
  • Offer recycle bins (smaller) to rent through the Public Works?
  • How can Park Ridge encourage green living at block parties?
  • Post office – upgrade both on building and parking lot
  • Touhy needs major repairs; too many streets are in such disrepair
  • Encourage tree planting on private property
  • Pave all alleys
  • Get involved in O’Hare Airport noise reduction program
  • Take a firm stand on O’Hare’s impact to Park Ridge
  • Increase education on the value of trees, private property and shared parkway
  • Plan proper installations in city planters – can we research more resilient plantings?
  • Can staff on City Public Works have Facebook Live tree education for the community – examples: value + care of trees?
    • Improve + enforce ordinances like water restrictions, natural lawn care and noise pollution from lawn care/landscape companies
  • Seek federal assistance, if any

U-Pick Priorities

Project Theme Votes
Address flood mitigation 14
Reduce noise pollution (airport sound barriers) 12
Increase native plants and pollinators 11
Improve recycling/zero-waste policies 11
Install raingardens + bioswales 10
Maintain streets and sidewalks 9
Provide city-wide composting 9
Provide LED lighting in Uptown and on corridors 9
Prioritize paving alleyways 6
Promote Eco-Education (for kids and adults) 4

Topic 4: Transportation + Safety

Think Space Banner Themes: Pedestrian / Bike Safety, Traffic + Parking Solutions

  • Extend Cumberland north under railroad tracks to Busse – will relieve Greenwood traffic
  • Better bike path through Algonquin Wood, safer bike lanes on busy streets
  • Brighter streetlights
  • North-South, East-West bike path child friendly
  • Update street signs – horizontal is not necessary – vertical is very Park Ridge, but many are old and missing letters
  • Street signs are also difficult to read
    • Reference what LaGrange and Western Springs are doing
  • Establish standards for ‘Stop’ signs
  • Additional parking in South Park area to encourage development/business investment
  • Improve pedestrian crossing at under/overpass at Six Corners
  • Every visitor needs the chance to arrive, shop, eat, and see a movie without running out because of 3hr time limit
  • Electric Vehicle charging stations
  • Despite parking study, we need more parking – repave parking lots
  • Would an annual ‘Streets Alive’ event be a great collaboration with our business community? This could increase foot traffic and attract better business
  • Perform a traffic analysis to determine best locations for ‘Stop’ signs and enforce them
  • Improve ‘intersection’ at Vine/Metra/Prospect/Main/Summit
  • Safety will always be important for all ages
    • All community effort to ‘buy into’ safety for all – take a pledge, make it positive, practical and promotional

U-Pick Priorities

Project Theme Votes
Enhance walkability/connectivity 13
Improve ped-safety via crosswalks/refuges 9
Add designated bike lanes to improve safety 8
Install traffic calming measures (bump-outs) 6
Make corridors friendly to all users (complete streets) 5
Add stop signs where needed to improve safety 4
Promote shared parking 4
Create more destination uses near Metra stations 4
Artistic crosswalks at key intersections (art deco) 4
Add bike parking at key locations 3

Next Steps

Share Input, Follow Website, Enter Email, Facebook Page

  1. What are your thoughts and ideas? Share comments by visiting parkridgewonderful.comclick here to share feedback via the Idea Portal which is open 24/7!
  2. If you have not already done so, enter your email via the follow button on the website to receive updates (like this) right to your inbox. After clicking follow, check your email and click the confirmation link.
  3. The next community workshop will take place in Fall of 2019, date TBD – please follow the Park Ridge Wonderful Facebook Page to stay engaged and aware of event updates.
  4. Poll #1 closed on Friday, June 28th. We are currently reviewing and analyzing results – a summary will be posted to the project website soon, along with Poll #2

Thanks + Happy Fourth of July!  

– Team Park Ridge Wonderful