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Village President Greable Looks Back on 2015

January 8, 2016 03:46 PM
 
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Year in Review: Winnetka focuses on revitalization, stormwater projects
Gene Greable, Village President, Village of Winnetka

Listening to Winnetka

The year began with a report on results of the fall 2014 Village Citizen Survey — the first initiative of our new Outreach and Engagement program. This professionally conducted survey was enthusiastically embraced by the community with an exceptionally high number (45 percent) of Winnetka households responding. It showed that residents overwhelmingly rated Winnetka as an excellent to good place to live and raise children, and a significant majority prioritized efforts to revitalize our business districts and address flooding issues. Results of the survey were used to evaluate Village services

Business district revitalization

First up on that priority to-do list was to revise commercial regulations to help revitalize Winnetka’s business districts. The council adjusted zoning code provisions on height, bulk and parking in the commercial districts. And, in response to pleas from business owners, it streamlined the special use permitting process, cutting anticipated application time from 12 to seven weeks.

In 2015, the Village’s Economic Development program expanded. During 2015, 17 new businesses opened in Winnetka. In early 2016, we look forward to the opening of Mrs. Green’s Natural Market in Hubbard Woods, and several others.

The most significant project undertaken by the council was the creation of a Master Plan for Winnetka’s three commercial districts. This effort is being led by Teska Associates and fills an important need for an updated market analysis, and an updated vision for the future of our business districts. 

Stormwater projects

A great deal of work has been put into resolving stormwater flooding issues with nearly $11 million spent on projects in the Stormwater Master Plan. Construction is now complete and residents are now enjoying substantial flood relief throughout many areas of the village, but we are not finished.

Engineering designs for the remaining major project (the stormwater tunnel and area drainage improvements) to provide flood relief to 2,400 households in south, eastern and western Winnetka were advanced from the conceptual design to a 30 percent design. With this greater level of detail the estimated costs for the project rose significantly, and with further review the cost estimates climbed even higher. In light of this development, the council decided to suspend work on the STADI project and re-evaluate alternatives for the western and southwestern area of Winnetka. The Village has engaged Strand Associates to recommend creative, cost-effective solutions. Their report is expected in the spring of 2016. 

2016 Initiatives

The year ahead promises to be extremely important to the future of Winnetka. The Downtown Master Plan will result in pivotal decisions about the future vitality and character of our three commercial areas. And with the results of the Strand stormwater report, we must commit to effective, affordable solutions for our flood-prone neighborhoods. I urge you to sign up for Winnetka’s weekly e-Newsletter, E-Winnetka. Become familiar with the Village website, your source for comprehensive Village information.

This article appeared in the January 7, 2016, Winnetka Current

 

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