Kenilworth residents had an opportunity to provide feedback on initial design concepts for improvements along Green Bay Road during an open house on Thursday evening.
During the 90-minute open house at Kenilworth Assembly Hall, 410 Kenilworth Ave., information on the project was presented on detailed posters, along with opportunities to leave positive and negative comments and ask questions to representatives from engineering and design firms working on the plans.
According to the Village’s website, officials have focused on improving Green Bay Road since 2022 when a revisioning process for the corridor was complete and concerns were raised related to traffic speed and pedestrian safety. With those concerns, Kenilworth officials teamed with the Village of Winnetka and engineering firm Ciorba Group to conduct a study of Green Bay Road between Kenilworth Avenue and Winnetka Road.
The concept plans developed from that study were presented Thursday evening.
Jodi Mariano, landscape architect with Teska Associates, said receiving feedback from the public is important as both Kenilworth and Winnetka decide how they want to move forward with any potential project.
“There are a lot of agencies that they have to coordinate with to make any improvements to the road — (The Illinois Department of Transportation) as well as the Union Pacific Railroad,” she said. “And so, having that input helps to have those conversations with the agencies and kind of move the project forward.”
Mariano said the feedback she heard from residents was “really useful,” and much of it centered on the safety of the road and concerns about speeding traffic.
This included “a desire to calm traffic and to slow traffic down but still make it move efficiently while providing safer spaces for pedestrians and safer spaces in front of businesses.”
That was a concern shared by Kenilworth resident Jeffrey Stafford, who said he liked one concept that would reduce the number of lanes.
“I think taking it from four lanes to two with a center turn lane would help reduce the speed when people drive on the road,” he said.
Stafford also said he liked proposals that would add more parking and green space to the corridor.
Fellow resident Julie Garrison said she also liked some of the concepts that would improve safety for pedestrians.
“I like that they would enhance it with better sidewalks, wider sidewalks and landscaping,” she said.
Garrison, who said she’s lived in the Village for more than 30 years, also shared a few concerns she had about the project, primarily that Kenilworth doesn’t have much room to grow.
“The issue is Kenilworth has a very small area, and it’s not going to get any bigger for commercial development,” she said. “And we have a very wonderful west side neighborhood, and this abuts right up to the neighborhood.”
While she said there are proposed ideas that she likes, her biggest concern is that they would cut into residential areas.
“We don’t want it to encroach on the neighborhood,” she said. “Obviously we don’t want it to affect property values. But to the extent that they can beautify it, I think that’s great.”
Another longtime resident, Vince Dina, said he’s “always like(d) the status quo” and didn’t necessarily see the need for any changes, but also said he thought some ideas were good, including the addition of more parking spaces.
Dina’s biggest concern was any potential costs and how the Village would pay for anything if they ultimately decide to move forward.
“I’ve lived here 32 years and it’s been OK just how it is,” he said. “I guess, depending on the cost, maybe it’ll be OK.”
Because the Green Bay Road enhancement project is being done collaboratively with Winnetka, Mariano said officials will hold a second open house to receive feedback from that Village’s residents. That open house will be held next Thursday, Feb. 15, at Tala Coffee Roasters, 93 Green Bay Road.
Mariano said any residents can attend the open house, regardless of which community they live in.
Once both open houses are done, she said the planning agencies will return to Kenilworth and Winnetka to share all the information they collected, while also continuing conversations with IDOT and Union Pacific regarding future steps.
“A project like this takes a long time to get through permitting,” Mariano said, “and so having these meetings early on and having community input just helps the process move along more smoothly.”
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Peter Kaspari is a blogger and a freelance reporter. A 10-year veteran of journalism, he has written for newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois, including spending multiple years covering crime and courts. Most recently, he served as the editor for The Lake Forest Leader. Peter is also a longtime resident of Wilmette and New Trier High School alumnus.