Residents make transportation wish list for Crystal Lake

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Post-it notes and markers on maps of Crystal Lake left in City Hall by residents Wednesday could be the road map for the city's future transportation plans.

Crystal Lake city planners and representatives from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning joined together Wednesday to gather residents' feedback on what they would like to see for roadways, sidewalks, public transportation and bike trails in the future.

Each category had a large map of Crystal Lake where residents could place a marker and leave a corresponding note explaining what improvements they would like to see. Suggestions ranged from addressing speeding on Pierson Street to easing congestion at Route 14 and Route 176 or extending North Shore Drive to Crystal Lake Avenue.

Elizabeth Maxwell, a city planner for Crystal Lake, said the information would serve as a guide toward the city's 2030 Comprehensive Plan and would not necessarily be viewed as a list of specific projects.

Nora Beck, a senior planner with CMAP, agreed with Maxwell and said the process is similar to the 137 projects the organization has helped guide in other communities in the past four years.

"People are going to have plenty of opportunities to contribute after this," she said. "We'll be working with the city for two years after a plan is adopted to help implement it."

The same maps and feedback system at the open house will be available as an online tool on both the Crystal Lake and CMAP websites for those who could not make it. Residents also will have an opportunity to take part in another workshop in September.

For those who were there, public transportation was a key area targeted for improvement.

Deb Saban, who has lived in Crystal Lake since 1976, said the city's nonexistent bus system has been a burden on senior citizens and those without cars for far too long.

"We desperately need a way for seniors and people with no ability to drive to get around the city," she said. "It just doesn't exist. Right now people have to call every single time they need a bus."

Her concerns were echoed by David Kunes, a resident of more than 30 years. Kunes said he was hopeful the public feedback process would be taken seriously and city leaders would take steps to get Crystal Lake caught up with the times in terms of transportation.

"I know there are cities our size that have a Pace system," he said. "We just don't have a culture of taking transit to destination areas. Crystal Lake is overdue for a change."

The open house also allowed one resident to try to follow through on some unfinished business.

Larry Lane, who was on the planning commission in the 1970s, said the city had plans for connecting Walkup Avenue by Crystal Lake Central High School to another road to combat the congestion that still occurs.

If that cannot be done, Lane said he would at least like to see more pedestrian crossways on Main Street, especially near the Jewel-Osco.

"It's like we're taking our lives into our own hands trying to cross Main Street," he said.

Funding for specific projects in the future would come out of the standard city budget and grants the city could receive, which should become more available with a written plan. More information about the workshop and plan can be found at www.cmap.illinois.gov/programs-and-resources/lta/crystal-lake.

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