The Middle School Perspective: Park Ridge Students Share…

Park Ridge Comprehensive Plan Student Focus Groups | October 3rd and 4th, 2019

The young minds of Park Ridge have countless ideas for how to improve their community—they just need to be asked!

The comments below are a few of the many thoughts shared during a series of student focus groups conducted as part of the Comprehensive Plan engagement process.  On October 3rd and 4th the Park Ridge Wonderful Outreach Team spent two fun-filled mornings with students at Emerson Middle School and Lincoln Middle School. We kicked off each session with a quick “What is a Comprehensive Plan?” briefing, and the kids caught on quickly — it helped that two classes were in learning about industrialization and city planning! Following introductions and some initial brainstorming, it was time to dig into ideas. Sticky notes with the words “Awesome / It’s All Good” and, “Just Sayin” were distributed. Students were asked to share ideas on things they loved about Park Ridge (Awesome / It’s All Good) and things they wanted to see change or get better (Just Sayin’).

“More stop signs and streetlights so we feel safe walking and biking home after dark.”
“I love the holiday lights, open space and scenery!”
“I like that The Pickwick is cheaper than other movie theaters.”
“We love Uptown, it would be great to have more activities/places to sit.”
“It’s ironic our logo is a light and it’s so dark out – we need better street lighting.”
“Dee Road, Talcott, Underpass – it is too narrow to ride your bike in these places”

What do you love? What do you want to see?

Love List: There was no question that students are happy to visit and/or call Park Ridge home.

Hearing what they “love” helps us understand what key parts of Park Ridge should be preserved. Commonly heard “Awesomes” included:

  • Uptown: the walkability, proximity of things, shops and restaurants!
  • Open space, nature, parks, and landscaping
  • Metra / CTA
  • The Library and The Pickwick
  • Centennial Pool
  • Skate Park
  • Wildwood Nature Center
  • Community events like the ‘Taste of Park Ridge’ and parades

Want List: The students also had plenty of opinions on what to improve!

Everyone shared one or two of their top ideas aloud and then posted their sticky notes to a large display board. Insights shared were both innovative, practical and additive – with students agreeing and commenting on eachother’s input. Given that students’ primary mode of transportation was by foot or bike, they had a lot of input on where they did or didn’t feel safe riding their bikes and crossing the street. Students then “voted” on the ideas they liked most by placing a sticker next to it. A few major themes from the included the following:

  • They would feel safer if there were more bike lanes / stop signs / and crosswalks
  • Park Ridge (or as one dubbed it, #DarkRidge) can get very dark at night – more streetlights would be great for walking or biking home
  • Recycling and composting is important; add more (larger) bins around town
  • Teen activities are needed, and it would be nice if they didn’t cost a lot
  • Activities noted included a gaming lounge, trampoline park, rock climbing gym
  • Grass sports fields often flood and get muddy, turf fields would be better
  • Pave the alleys – rocks go everywhere
  • Scooter / bike rental would be cool
  • More variety in restaurants and shops
  • Crosswalk on Courtland, between City Hall and the residential neighborhood
  • Crosswalk on Northwest Highway across from Chipotle
  • Crosswalk near 7-11, Walgreens, Subway, Des Plaines River – we go to these places often


Park Ridge Middle Schoolers, You Rock!

Thank you for sharing your insights, quotes, and notes on improving your community’s future.

“More vegan restaurants, livestock production furthers climate change.”
 “I love Pickleball, playing sports at FFC and the Community Center!” 
“We need stop signs in neighborhoods, my mom almost got in an accident.”
“Street signs are hard to read.”