Facelift eyed for downtown Wadsworth
By Tina Johansson For Sun-Times Media September 27, 2013 7:42PM
St. Patricks Catholic Church in Wadsworth and the road construction project in front of it. Officials said the project should be complete this year.| Tina Johansson/For Sun-Times Media
A Jazz festival in the park will be held tonight, Sept. 28, where there will be food and cocktails for sale, provided by Savanna House Restaurant in Wadsworth.
Updated: October 29, 2013 6:10AM
Downtown Wadsworth is set to take on a new look, yet retain the old charm it has always had.
“We would like the downtown to get a facelift, and we’d like it be the focal point,” said Moses Amidei, village administrator. While he is pleased with a new farmers market this year, Amidei said he would like to see many more events in town.
The two-lane Wadsworth Road, west of Delany and east of Route 41, where the downtown is situated is dotted with farmhouses, a church, tavern, post office, fire station, and the village hall. Adding a rural flavor is a sheep farm.
Heck, you can even go fishing in Wadsworth. On nice days, a portion of the Des Plaines River, just west of the Wadsworth Feed & Saddlery, is rife with fishermen, particularly near the canoe launch at the Lake County Forest Preserve area of the river.
A $2.2 million county road project, which started last year, will add a center turn lane to Wadsworth Road in the downtown district, a bicycle path, and new sidewalks (part of the sidewalks will be paid for by the village). New infrastructure is part of the project, as the storm sewer system has been replaced.
“The county is telling us they should be concluded by the end of this season,” said Mayor Glenn Ryback about the one-mile project.
To the west of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, a portion of a 17-acre site the village owns — a former turkey farm, had been cleared of scrub trees two years ago. “Before we did anything, we sent a forester out there to see what trees we could save,” said the mayor. It turned out only two were saved, as many were infested with bugs and in poor condition.
Now the 3.5-acre plot on the old turkey farm is a lovely slice of green which serves as a village park. It’s the latest spot for free village-sponsored concerts and there will be one tonight, as well as one more in late October.
Among the projects kicked around is a permanent band shelter at the new park. Mayor Ryback said village musicians have inquired about playing concerts for the community, and this would be ideal. Money, however, to build the structure is in short supply, so the mayor is seeking funds elsewhere including the possibility of getting a state grant. Trustees have been generous with their time offering ideas and agreeing to volunteer services to build a band shelter.
Ryback said he would like to see some regular car shows as part of village-sponsored activities. “Last year it was our 50th anniversary and we went all out,” said the mayor. The three-day long event included a car show as well as music.
“I’m pleased to see the progress on Wadsworth Road in the downtown area, and also pleased with the completion of the District 56 school here,” said the mayor. “And we are looking forward to more commerce on Route 41 and the Route 173 corridor.”
Wadsworth Road feeds onto Route 41, which goes north to Milwaukee and south to Chicago. Called “Restaurant Row” by the mayor, the site has a several eateries, among them Savanna House and Captain Porky’s.
A strip mall to the north, anchored by a McDonald’s and a BP Amoco gas station, has lost its sole tenant — a Subway sandwich shop, earlier this year.
Village officials wish is to have empty store fronts filled. A group of investors recently purchased the foreclosed property, according to the mayor. “We’re open to any kind of business,” he said.