WINNETKA – With the Winnetka Village Council well on its way to formally adopting the downtown master plan that addresses the village’s struggling business districts, trustees turned their attention to putting that plan into action at a Village Council meeting on October 18.
“The village of Winnetka is committed to investing in each of its downtown business districts,” President Gene Greable announced at the meeting.
The village hired consultants Teska Associates in June 2015 to spearhead the downtown master plan project, which included the creation of a steering committee and a series of community engagements through 2015 to 2016. Described by Greable as an “action oriented document,” the draft downtown master plan was previewed by the village council at a September 13 meeting, where it received an overwhelmingly positive response.
At this stage, village officials seek to put the downtown master plan into action after its scheduled formal adoption by the village council on November 1. “I think we had great community input which is reflected in the plan,” Michael D’Onofrio, Director of Community Development told the council.
The village plans to earmark $500,000 in its 2017 budget to put the plan into action.
“We focused on making things actionable and visible in the community,” Megan Pierce, assistant to the village manager explained to the council. The village will continue working with Teska throughout 2017 to assist in the planning process, which will also include forming a task force made up of five residents drawn from the master plan steering committee.
The village plans to form the task force by November or December 2016 to begin immediately working on the project in January 2017. The committee’s objectives include:
- addressing the retail overlay district,
- reviewing zoning and land use regulations,
- implementing streetscape improvements,
- making parking recommendations, and
- implementing branding signage and way finding.
“We want you to know it is not just adopting the plan but we would (also) like to continue working on it in the near short term,” Pierce said.
Village trustee Scott Myers asked whether these particular objectives were chosen with eye towards the next three years. “I think the goal was for some quick wins (that are) highly visible to the community to say we heard you and we are acting and this plan is going into place,” Pierce explained.
But the objectives will also address some policy issues that will build in the next several years. “I think by tackling a combination of policy and improvement projects that is what sort of builds the next several years,” Pierce said.
Trustee Penny Lanphier expressed concern that the task force was taking on significant issues that may better be handled with input from the zoning and plan commissions.
“There is a lot of work here. I think having another task force to help oversee and manage this will be important but I think we need to make use of the plan commission and the zoning commission,” Trustee Myers added.
Village manager Robert Bahan noted that the task force will operate as an advisory body to the council and other commissions and would be providing updates to the council as it proceeds. The village council could decide whether a particular issue should be reviewed by the zoning or plan commissions, Bahan explained.
The village council plans to review this issue again at its next meeting when staff will provide further details as to the task force’s objectives and responsibilities.
The implementation of the downtown master plan is addressed in the Business District Revitalization section of the draft 2017 budget, pages 171-173. To view the draft budget go to: www.villageofwinnetka.org.