ALGONQUIN – Improving signage around downtown, making it more pedestrian friendly and keeping the historical character are among preliminary recommendations of the village’s downtown consultants.
Representatives of Land Vision Inc. described possible improvements to the downtown in a presentation Thursday to the village’s Historic Commission, Economic Development Commission, Public Arts Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The Downtown Planning Study comes as the Illinois Department of Transportation constructs a western bypass to divert traffic, such as heavy trucks and through traffic, from the intersection of Routes 62 and 31. The study is being paid for with a $90,000 federal grant from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.
Ron Lanz, the principal for Land Vision, said the bypass allows Algonquin to reinvent its downtown and make it a destination.
Consultants in July found in surveys and a public workshop that historic preservation is important to residents, Lanz said.
He said places such as TMG Self Storage doesn’t really go well with the single-family homes in the area and suggested the village look at whether it can do something long term that better fits the character of the area.
He also recommended more signs at gateway points and throughout the downtown to guide people to the area. And there are opportunities for development in the residential areas north of Route 62, Lanz said.
Adding places for boats to dock on the Fox River could attract people to businesses along the river and in the downtown. In the workshop, people said boat slips or a place to rent kayaks, he said.
Lanz added that St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School could share its parking to help businesses in the downtown.
Stacey Meekins, senior planner of Sam Schwartz Engineering, said the downtown needs to be more pedestrian friendly.
When Algonquin takes over jurisdiction of Main Street, the village can improve crosswalk markings and have signs that bring attention to crosswalks, she said. Furthermore, it could consider narrowing the roadway, widening sidewalks and providing angle parking instead of the current parallel parking.
Completing a network of sidwalks in some areas will allow people to walk from home to the dowtown, she said.
Bridget Lane, director of Business Districts Inc., said there could be a downtown-recruitment team to lure in niche businesses and increase the number of people who work within five minutes of the area.
She also said community groups such as youth sports leagues or service organizations need to be encouraged to public gathering spaces.
Land Vision also delved into people’s preferences for architectural styles, building heights, types of signs and parking arrangements.
The village is in the process of scheduling a second public input workshop for next month, working toward a final report at the end of the year that will recommend a series of short-term and long-term improvements for the downtown.