Chicago-area planning agency seeks input

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Chicago region is on the brink of change, and residents now are getting a chance to put in their 2 cents about the decisions affecting their everyday lives.

Three-year-old Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is heading the GO TO 2040 planning campaign. It is working to determine the best strategies to ensure the best possible quality of life as the metropolitan area prepares for an estimated 2.8 million additional residents by 2040.

Local residents can give their input on the plan at a GO TO 2040 “Invent the Future” workshop at the Crystal Lake City Hall on Thursday. There will be a kiosk at Woodstock Public Library from July 3-14. Residents also may visit CMAP’s GO TO 2040 Web site.

CMAP is concentrating on how the Chicago area’s anticipated population spike will affect the area’s transportation, housing, economic development, open space, environment and natural resources. This year is the public-opinion phase called the “Invent the Future” campaign. Residents are asked to give their input on where they would like to see changes made.

“In the past the plan was totally advisory,” CMAP communications director Tom Garritano said. “This has a regional vision.”

Chicago area residents are asked to attend “Invent the Future” community workshops, stop at kiosks and visit the GO TO 2040 Web site. Each will give residents a chance to electronically design growth scenarios for the Chicago area in a way he or she sees fit.

Garritano stressed that part of designing these scenarios is understanding the trade-offs that must happen. And it’s also a willingness to sacrifice here or there in order to avoid a major tax increase – but don’t expect the changes to be free.

“If you want change you have to invest in it,” CMAP executive director Randy Blankenhorn said.

The agency plans to have a Web site that tracks the progress of the plan.

A rough draft will be drawn in spring 2010 and finalized in October of the same year. Blankenhorn said to expect work to begin immediately, but visible progress wouldn’t be seen right away.

“Chicago is a little slow-moving,” he said. “What we do expect to see is a change in attitude. This is a long-range plan.”

No matter which medium they choose – be it a workshop, kiosk or the Web site – it is important that residents give their input on the project. All suggestions will be collected and analyzed immediately. A few summaries and scenarios from community workshops have been posted online.

“It’s up to our residents and how they see their future, what they think is important and what their priorities are,” Blankenhorn said.

If you go

What: GO TO 2040 "Invent the Future" Workshop.

When: 7 to 9 p.m.Thursday.

Where: Crystal Lake City Hall at 100 W. Woodstock St. in Crystal Lake.

To register, visit www.goto2040.org/getinvolved/inventworkshops.

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