Home Business “Hubbard Woods Streetscape Work to Begin Later This Year, Residents Get Informed”

“Hubbard Woods Streetscape Work to Begin Later This Year, Residents Get Informed”

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“Hubbard Woods Streetscape Work to Begin Later This Year, Residents Get Informed”

Residents of Winnetka and Glencoe received their first glimpse on Tuesday of what could potentially be a big selection of improvements to certainly one of Latest Trier Township’s distinguished business districts.

Officials from each municipalities hosted the open house at Winnetka’s Towne and Oak, where interested residents saw preliminary concepts for the Hubbard Woods streetscape project.

The event was to start reviewing outcomes of a community survey, present residents with initial streetscape concepts and offer opportunities for feedback that might guide the longer term decision-making of village officials.

“The aim of tonight is actually just to offer options for the community to weigh in on,” said Jodi Mariano, principal designer with the project’s architect, Teska Associates. “And I feel once we have a look at streetscape design, we’ve to take a look at what meets pedestrian safety and pedestrian comfort and get that right first.”

The Hubbard Woods streetscape project is a component of a series of improvements in Winnetka’s three business districts. As previously reported by The Record, the village completed five phases of the work within the Elm Street Business District, which first began in 2020 and carried into 2023.

Winnetka adopted its downtown master plan in 2016, which identified streetscape improvements within the districts, said David Schoon, Winnetka’s community development director, noting that Hubbard Woods is the subsequent area of focus.

Improvements throughout the Hubbard Woods district might be much like the enhancements made within the downtown area but early indications show a preference for some different elements as well.

“We’re trying to tie the districts with certain elements after which also attempting to create some uniqueness with other elements in each district,” Schoon said, adding that the pedestrian street poles in each area will likely be a tying element of the 2 districts.

Survey says

A key piece of data officials presented on the open house was the outcomes of a community survey that commenced in November of last 12 months and concluded in early 2024.

Five hundred and eighty people participated within the survey, in line with Mariano, who said it was issued to residents and businesses in Winnetka and Glencoe. Roughly 64 percent of survey participants live in Winnetka, while slightly below 20 percent live in Glencoe.

Respondents listed sidewalk cafe spaces, on-street parking and outdoor seating areas as their top three preferences when rating streetscape functions they felt provide essentially the most value.

When considering elements from the downtown streetscape project that must be transferred over, participants said benches, decorative planter pots, decorative brick pavers and street trees along sidewalks were their top decisions.

A series of open-ended questions was also included within the survey, asking residents about elements of the Hubbard Woods right of way that must be protected and improved.

Residents noted the “sense of place and small-town character” in addition to Hubbard Woods park and playground, charming constructing storefronts and businesses and the convenient traffic flow along Green Bay Road within the district as their top decisions for elements that must be protected in the course of the project.

Regarding hoped-for improvements, participants listed repairs to the roadways and sidewalks in poor condition, calm traffic and improved pedestrian safety and crossings, improved visibility and conflicts at Merrill Street, and improved pedestrian crossings and appearance at Tower Road as top decisions.

Green Bay Road challenge

One imperative point that hangs over the project is the jurisdiction of Green Bay Road. Currently, the portion of the road north of Scott Avenue in Glencoe is already a village-owned road; nonetheless, the southern portion of Green Bay Road in Winnetka within the Hubbard Woods district is controlled by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

In keeping with information from the Village of Winnetka, officials have explored a jurisdictional transfer with IDOT. If the transfer occurs, Winnetka would take over responsibility of the general public right-of-way, which might allow the village greater design flexibility.

Poster presentations on the meeting included initial concepts for the varied areas of the Hubbard Woods district and initial concepts included two options: one directional plan if the village takes control of Green Bay and one if IDOT stays on top of things.

“Right away, what we’re doing is coming up with concepts that we are able to then start having conversations with IDOT about what they might allow us to do in additional detail if it stays IDOT (controlled) or if we pursue a jurisdictional transfer and wish to take it over and what that process is,” Schoon said.

Schoon noted that funding will likely be a big project and that the village would “prefer to discover potential grant opportunities.” But there are bumps within the road with that process at once.

“To be eligible for grants, it’s worthwhile to be far enough along in your development of your plan, and your documents and to be far enough together with those, it’s worthwhile to know what direction you’re going to go,” Schoon said. “And so, ultimately, after we gather this information and refine the plan, and along the way in which we’ll be working with the Village Council, the council in some unspecified time in the future goes to should make a choice which direction they wish to go along with this streetscape.”

Project details

Presentation boards available on the meeting focused on preliminary concepts for the northern, central and southern portion of the districts as well an area known as the horseshoe. The term refers back to the area that goes around Hubbard Woods Park and includes Merrill Street to the north, Tower Court and Gage Street.

Mariano noted one other challenge throughout the district is narrow sidewalks. But the primary order of business for the project will concentrate on solving traffic circulation and pedestrian safety and luxury.

“Once we solve the traffic circulation and pedestrian safety and pedestrian comfort, only then can we start to take a look at the bells and whistles,” Mariano said. “It’s like frosting on a cake. You possibly can’t put frosting if the cake isn’t baked and so we’ve to be sure that that we’ve a very good foundation here,” she added, noting that providing “more amenities and human scale to the road” are also often goals of streetscape work.

Neighboring Glencoe makes up the northernmost a part of the Hubbard Woods district, which accounts for roughly 20 percent of it in total. Village officials view the project as a beneficial opportunity.

“From my perspective, it’s a terrific opportunity to work with our neighbors to our south,” said Taylor Baxter, Glencoe’s development services director. “What’s good for the Winnetka side of Hubbard Woods, is sweet for the Glencoe side and vice versa, and I’d really prefer to see this be a cohesive business district. It’s a terrific opportunity for us to work together and work along with our neighbors on a crucial project.”

Terry Dason, executive director of the Winnetka-Northfield-Glencoe Chamber of Commerce, believes the streetscape updates to the downtown area have helped drive business toward the world. With Hubbard Woods on the docket, she said local retailers within the district are excited for what’s to come back.

“What we’ve seen from the Elm Street business district is rather a lot more energy and foot traffic because of this of getting the lights and the larger pavers for strollers and for families to have the option to travel down the road together,” Dason said. “And so those are the form of things which can be going to assist this community, this business district, get the foot traffic that they really desire to have.”

Winnetka officials are planning to schedule a gathering with IDOT to debate the potential jurisdictional transfer and report back to the council with public feedback from the open house and its conversations with the state agency, Schoon said. That touchpoint with the council will help determine if “we’re headed in the precise direction,” he added.

Mariano, together with village staff, will then begin to work on refinements to narrow down what the potential plan may seem like. A second meeting with IDOT and a return trip the council will follow, before trustees will then offer staff a more concentrated direction for the project.

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