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Washington Street corridor upgrade planned in Waukegan

Updated: March 19, 2013 3:03AM

An effort to help Washington Street between Glen Rock Avenue and McAree Road become “a more economically dynamic and successful area” will begin next week with a set of community focus groups hosted by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, which is offering Waukegan design assistance as part of the group’s “Go to 2040” comprehensive regional plan.

CMAP is providing the free service as part of a Local Technical Assistance program funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Waukegan was one of more than 100 Chicago-area communities filing a request to participate. Also selected for the program in 2012-13 were Lakemoor and Round Lake Heights, both of which will work with CMAP on comprehensive plans.

In addition, CMAP will team with Lake County officials and the Grayslake-based environmental group Conserve Lake County on a sustainable food systems project, and also will work with Antioch on a “lifestyle corridor” with bike and pedestrian trails that would connect not just the village but the Chain O’ Lakes area with the Des Plaines River.

Go to 2040 was released in 2010 as a blueprint for development and redevelopment in the seven-county metropolitan area, focusing on such things as achieving greater livability in communities, conserving water and energy resources, expanding parks and open space, and creating more efficient transportation networks.

In Waukegan, the Washington Street corridor concept was selected as an opportunity to identify “viable strategies that can be pursued by both the city and businesses” to make the mostly-commercial sector succeed, according to a report issued by CMAP officials.

“The primary objective is to build upon existing assets, however small, and identify opportunities for economic development that are grounded in the real world and correspond with the needs of the people who live, work, and do business in the area,” the report states. “Once complete, the Washington Street corridor plan will issue a set of recommendations identifying viable strategies that can be pursued by both the city and businesses along Washington Street to help the corridor become a more economically dynamic and successful area.”

The planning project, which CMAP officials say will require no financial outlay from the city, will proceed in three phases, the first of which will include conducting interviews and collecting information from community members at public forums. The first two focus groups are scheduled for Tuesday (Jan. 22), with the first running from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Toluca Restaurant, 1419 Washington, and the second from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Delia’s Daycare, 1401 Washington.

Subsequent meetings are scheduled for Thursday (Jan. 24) from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Waukegan High School’s West Campus, 1011 Washington, and then from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Vista Medical Center West, 2615 Washington. Along with the public forums, the first phase will also include a review of previous studies and collection of maps and data.

The second phase proposes to create strategies, leading to a final phase that will draft a commercial corridor plan document containing “policies, programs and action steps intended to help the community achieve the future vision,” according to the CMAP statement. A CMAP spokesperson said this week that the agency will continue to provide planning assistance for two years after the City Council approves a final plan.

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