Dunkin’ Portage Park plan raises traffic safety concern
by BRIAN NADIG
A proposal to build a Dunkin’ Donuts with a drive-through facility on a former canoe shop site at 4019 N. Narragansett Ave. has raised concerns that the project would add additional turning options for motorists along an already congested roadway.
“You really can’t fit anymore egress and ingress options in that short stretch of roadway without compromising the safety of residents,” Portage Park Neighborhood Association president Patty Conroy.
Plans call for the doughnut shop to be set back toward the rear of the property with the drive-up window on the east side of the building. The vehicular entrance and exit to the site would be located on Narragansett immediately north of an existing alley, and a site plan shows that motorists would be able to left or right into or out of the parking lot on Narragansett.
However, users of the drive-through facility would be required to exit to the north onto Cuyler Avenue, which runs one-way west only. Once on Cuyler, motorists would make the short drive to Narragansett, from which they could turn left or right.
The Dunkin’ site is located across from the Dunning Square shopping center, which has two driveways on Narragansett between Irving Park Road and Cuyler, and a third entrance about an 1/8 block north of Cuyler..
“From Culyer to Irving, that’s about 265 feet of roadway (on Narragansett), and you have all those turning options,” Conroy said. “We don’t want to increase the left-turn options. There’s already a lot of accidents there.”
The association is hoping that the site plan can be revised so that left turns to and from the Dunkin’ parking lot on Narragansett would be prohibited, Conroy said. Concerns also have been raised about the possibility that the doughnut shop could be open 24 hours a day, she said.
Plans call for the Dunkin’ at Dunning Square to relocate to the former site of the Chicagoland Canoe Base, whose longtime owner Ralph Frese died in 2012. Last year the proposal also called for additional retail development on a neighboring property, but that portion of the project reportedly is not moving forward at this time.
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) voiced support for the project after a community meeting which he held in June off 2015, but Sposato said that only about a dozen residents attended the meeting in part due to a Blackhawks playoff game that day.
Conroy said that some Cuyler residents have said that they were not notified of that meeting and that a second community meeting on the proposal has not been held. Earlier this month the association invited residents on Cuyler to voice their concerns at the July 11 general meeting of the association.
The Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to hold a hearing on a special use request for the Dunkin’ drive-through facility at its meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, July 15, in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St.