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New North Broadway Developments. Make Your Voice Heard

Have a suggestion about our neighborhood’s streets, bike lanes, stores or green space?  Then NOW is your opportunity to voice your opinion about ways to improve our neighborhood’s look and feel as the North Broadway Corridor plan gets under way. The City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development is sponsoring an economic development and transportation corridor plan called the “North Broadway Plan”, and last night the Edgewater Public Library hosted a meeting for community residents to come listen as well as voice opinions about visions for the design of the neighborhood in the years to come. The 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman and 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, have been working diligently and hand in hand to provide the opportunity for people in the community to collaborate and suggest ways to best design our streets, pedestrian walkways, improve green space, bike amenities, preserve an entertainment district, among many other possibilities. An online survey tool called MetroQuest is available now for community members to voice and suggest ideas and prioritize improvements.

This online tool will be available online through April 11, 2014. Access the survey at http://broadway.metroquest.com/

There was standing room only at last night’s meeting and the room was overflowing with residents, business owners, passionate cyclists, people from the Alderman’s office, associates from the planning committee and city officials. The URS Consulting Firm has been contracted by the city to work with the neighborhood on the new plans. Broadway is such a unique and standout street in the city of Chicago. It is culturally sensitive, has a diverse mix of uses and is unlike any other with a real opportunity for improvement. Representatives of the firm presented and made the intention to say multiple times that the meeting and the survey is meant to encourage community collaboration and a meaningful dialogue about the possibilities for our neighborhood and that nothing has been set in stone yet. A plan is only as good as the input and work that goes into it, and thus everyone is encouraged to give their input over the next month. BroadwayPlanningMtg

The community planning process is one that involves 3 phases

  1. Existing condition synthesis – Assessing the current condition of our neighborhood, the good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly, the safety, the logic, everything in it’s current design.
  2. Community visioning – This is the current phase we are in. Imagining the possibilities and empowering residents to be a part of the conversation and planning.
  3. North Broadway plan – The final stage is set for the spring of 2014 in which a plan is presented that

There are a few points that are very clear in regards to the current condition of Broadway. Our streets are not pedestrian or biker friendly. The majority have voiced that they want to make Broadway a more walkable street, and it doesn’t feel inviting or safe to walk on in it’s current condition. North of Broadway is currently auto-focused, with no defined or safe space for our many bikers.

From all the assessment that has been done up to date, the key strategies the plan will be focusing on are the following…

  • Better organizing land use

On the North end of Broadway is Loyola, an area that draws in thousands of students, employees, visitors, and others. On the south end is Lawrence, an epicenter of historic theaters, restaurants and bars drawing in people from all over the city. Both areas are bustling and have major room for improvement in terms of making it more accessible to walk around. We currently have no banners or identifiers that draw attention to what neighborhood you are actually in.

  • Making Broadway for people and not just cars

Being on the very North end of Lake Shore Drive makes our area susceptible to tons of cars and traffic as we are a bridge between the city and communities up North. With 2 lanes of traffic open on either side of the street on Broadway, we are overrun by cars and therefore not safe for anyone else commuting in the area.

  • Leveraging assets already in play

We live in an area with major historical theaters, the Aragon Theatre, The Riviera, the Uptown Theatre- these are all major cultural assets that are in need of renovation and serious work if we want to leverage them in any way. We should be able to use the entertainment district as a catalyst.  All business owners have a stake in businesses thriving. If one does well, it elevates others around it. The opposite is true as well. If one business isn’t doing well and doesn’t appear appealing, it can drag down the feel of the businesses surrounding it. If we want this to be a collaborative process, we need businesses owners, community residents, and neighbors to contribute to ideas on how our neighborhood could look and feel. We are missing bike amenities. We are too auto focused. We have few street amenities and therefore a great deal of pedestrian/auto conflicts.

Imagine the possibilities.

Funding and financing major projects is always a challenge. Even when there is a great plan and support to back great designs, securing the money to make the changes can be exhaustive. In the meantime, we should dream big. Imagine if Lawrence and Broadway implemented improvements such as street bump outs to keep pedestrians feeling a little more safe. Imagine if we had a visible sign or banner that identified our major historical theatre district. How about a gateway defining what neighborhood you are in as you drove through our area. Imagine if bikers could ride up and down Broadway without having to fear for their lives or get thrown off their bikes due to the massive potholes and speed bumps. Imagine if we had green trees between the walkway and streets to brighten up the gray and dull feel that currently resides. Make your suggestions by taking several minutes to complete the survey here.

Want to get updated on all that is happening with the North Broadway Corridor Plan? Sign up for newsletters through your aldermen Harry Osterman or James Cappleman and participate in the discussion.

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