LAKE FOREST — City officials continue to engage a large cross section of the community as Lake Forest works toward developing its next five-year strategic plan to guide it into the next decade.
The Lake Forest City Council will vote on a final draft of the plan laying out a focus through 2022 at one of its two April meetings at City Hall, according to City Manager Robert Kiely Jr.
One of the first things the city did to develop the plan was invite a crowd diverse in age, occupation, interest and other traits to a focus group February 7 led by Lake Forest College anthropology professor Holly Swyers. More than 150 showed up.
A report of the results of the gathering crafted by Swyers and 26 of her students was delivered to the city February 22 and distributed to the people at the meeting. Kiely said one of the first things done with the report was a review by the people present.
“We sent it out to all of the people who were there to see if there are things which should be added to the report,” said Kiely. “We want to know if there were things left out that were said at their table,” he added referring to the individual sessions led by Swyers’ students.
The report indicated people were concerned about incorporating newcomers to Lake Forest into the city’s traditions. While there is agreement more affordable housing is needed there was fear it might be built without adequate attention to blending with the current character. Similar ideas are contained in the last strategic plan adopted in 2012.
A group of 75 persons, also diverse, took a deeper dive into the planning process last weekend, according to Kiely. He said along with members of the council, there were representatives from the town’s schools both public and private, the Lake Forest Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce, churches, the Lake Forest Library, the Gorton Community Center and youth from CROYA.
“We had a real cross section,” said Kiely. “They took a look at our core values. They are focusing on the next five to 10 years.”
Kiely said changes to the city’s housing stock are being considered both for legacy families—young people who grew up in Lake Forest and wish to return as adults to raise their children—and seniors.
“People want to age in place,” said Kiely. “They may have lived in a 4,000 to 5,000 square foot house and they want to downsize. We’re starting to see that with Laurel and Western and the development on McKinley Road.”
Though two new aldermen and a new mayor will take office May 1, Kiely said it is appropriate for the current city council vote on the strategic plan. Aldermen Catherine Waldeck and George Pandaleon are not running for reelection because of term limits. The same is true for Mayor Donald Schoenheider.
“It is important they see it through and put their stamp on it before they leave office,” said Kiely. “They have been very involved.”
Click here to read the strategic plan for the five years from 2012 through 2017.