RTA says public input will be key to success of Jeff Park master plan
by BRIAN NADIG
Community input will play a key role in determining the makeup of a master plan for the area surrounding the Jefferson Park Transit Center, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., according to Regional Transportation Authority officials.
“They’ll be a lot of public participation,” said RTA local planning program manager Heather Tabbert. “We are trying to facilitate the process for public opinion. We don’t have any agenda here.”
The RTA recently hired the planning firm of Teska Associates to serve as a consultant on the project, said RTA communications director Susan Massel. A mix of federal, RTA and city funds will cover the $125,000 cost of the project.
The plan may include recommendations on retail-residential development and improvements to pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular circulation around the transit center, Tabbert said. “We want to get people in the neighborhood using transit,” she said.
The master plan will not focus on the transit center itself, as the city has plans to renovate the center as part of a larger improvement project along the CTA Blue Line, Tabbert said.
A steering committee, which will include representatives of community groups, will work with the consultants, and public workshops will be held, she said.
“The hundreds of ideas brought into the master plan will get residents and businesses even more excited about our great neighborhood,” Alderman John Arena (45th) said.
The redevelopment of the area surrounding the transit center has taken center stage in recent months with plans to build at least 300 new apartments. Several additional projects also are in the works.
Arena has said that increased density will help revitalize the area by generating a larger customer base for existing and prospective businesses. There are storefronts near the Milwaukee-Lawrence intersection which have been vacant for decades.
However, a recent plan for a 100-unit, mixed-income housing project at 5150 N. Northwest Highway has sparked protests. Concerns have been raised that the planned development projects could worsen traffic and parking congestion and lead to higher enrollment at the area’s overcrowd schools.