Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees May 5 meeting
by SEAN KEENEHAN
The Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees at its meeting May 5 completed its hearing on the conceptual design of a bicycle and pedestrian overpass at Touhy Avenue on the Commonwealth Edison right of way and directed the Park and Recreation Board to work with Stanley Consultants to prepare an engineering report to submit to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The overpass will cross Touhy west of Lincoln Avenue and will connect the Sauganash Trail to the Skokie Valley Trail. A Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Grant of $1,464,000 was received by the village in 2011 to cover 80 percent of the overpass construction, leaving the village’s share of the cost at $366,000.
The village board considered a recommendation from the park board to construct a three-span truss bridge with mechanically stabilized earth walls at its Nov. 18 meeting. The bridge design was selected to be the most cost effective of the six proposals that were made by Stanley Consultants.
The engineering firm informed the board at the November meeting that the estimated cost of the bridge had increased to $3,750,000, which increased the village’s share to $750,000. The Park and Recreation Board requested additional grant funding, which was approved on Feb. 19 for the amount of $3,569,000.
Paul Schneider of Stanley Consultants presented updated information about the project to the board at Tuesday’s meeting, including the addition of stairs for local pedestrian access and vegetation privacy screens.
In response to concerns expressed by residents that the overpass would decreasing property values, Schneider said that he believes the increased commuter options will increase property values and that some residents have expressed excitement about the new "gateway to the community."
A representative of Muller and Muller Architects presented slides of the site plan and said that the structure of the bridge the signs placed on it will help it stand out as a unique addition to the village.
Trustee Jesal Patel said that he opposes the overpass design. Patel said that the design is "lacking in imagination," "generic in design" and "the cheapest thing on the shelf." He said that the design is identical to the design of an overpass in Busse Woods.
"This is an opportunity to make a statement," Patel said. "We don’t want to just be the cheap guy across the street from Devon."
Public Works director Ashley Engelmann defended the design, saying that the bridge "ties in with the prairie-style elements of the village," Engelmann said.
"We don’t want the bridge at all," a woman told the trustees. "The less we have of it the better." Another woman said that she dislikes the signs proposed for the bridge and asked, "Why brand it?"
In response to a resident expressing concern about crime on the path, Mayor Gerald Turry said that it would be closely monitored.
One resident said that the bridge will increase bicycle safety in the area and that he had been struck by a car twice while crossing Touhy.
Also at the meeting, the board amended the village code to authorize the board to permit street banner advertisements that it finds appropriate in the public. Village code prohibits all advertising, with the exception of transit shelter signs, and non-governmental signs from being installed in the public way.
The trustees also acknowledged two outgoing board members. Renee Sprogis-Marohn has left the board after serving three terms from 2003 to 2015, and Nicholas Leftakes has left after serving from 1997 to 2007 and from 2009 to 2015.
Patel, who was elected to a third term in April, and new trustees Jennifer Spino and Barry Bass were sworn in at the meeting by Cook County 9th Subcircuit Judge Megan Goldish.
Also, Lincolnwood police sergeant Timothy O’Connor was sworn in by police chief Robert LaMantia.