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Residents object to plans to extend road in McHenry

McHENRY – Plans to extend Venice Avenue to Riverside Drive this fall were postponed as residents raised concerns about the decision.

David Gende, who has lived on Venice Avenue for 20 years, worries the move will take a quiet, residential street and make it a corridor for a lot more pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Venice Avenue is a narrow road that follows the north bank of the canal in downtown McHenry, which runs about two blocks east from Court Street and dead-ends before Riverside Drive.

By extending the road and making it one-way, the city hopes to give downtown visitors – especially those who use a public parking lot off Court Street – access to a signal intersection in order to cross or turn onto Route 120, Village Administrator Derik Morefield said.

It will be safer for both drivers visiting the downtown area and the neighborhood’s residents, he said.

The extension has been included in city planning documents dating back to 2003, including the comprehensive plan and two downtown-specific plans, but with the city’s purchase of the Dobyn’s House site, 1202 N. Riverside Drive, city officials have revisited the idea.

The Public Works Committee gave the go-ahead on the project at its Oct. 15 meeting, and work was scheduled to start Monday.

Preliminary work on the city property that divides Venice Avenue and Riverside Drive will still start Monday, but the rest of the project won’t happen until spring at the earliest, Morefield said.

Because the project will cost less than $10,000, which is available in the budget, and is included in city planning documents, it does not need to go to the City Council for final approval, Morefield said.

The extension would not affect residents’ ability to park on the street, he said.

While the project does not include any widening of the road, a five-year capital improvement program proposes installing curb and gutter.

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