Berwyn, Cicero, and Oak Park took a step forward last week toward sprucing up Roosevelt Road. Officials from the three communities, in separate meetings, approved a contract for a consultant to prepare design guidelines for Oak Park’s southern border between Austin Boulevard and Harlem Avenue. The three communities will pay consultant Duncan Associates $220,000 (roughly $110,000 from Oak Park) to complete the study.

Oak Park originally planned $50,000 for its portion, and must amend its budget to reflect the study’s costs. Officials said the original cost was a rough estimate.

Duncan’s work will include parking and traffic studies, holding dozens of meetings, launching a website, and preparing a plan to improve Roosevelt’s streetscape and aesthetics. The three municipalities had a previous study done in 2001, which focused more on land use, Village Planner Craig Failor said.

The next step is for Duncan to set up focus groups with all the stakeholders on Roosevelt. Then a public meeting will be scheduled for the end of May.

As for funding recommendations from the study, Failor said the village will look for federal and state grants for infrastructure improvements. The previous board labeled this as a catalyst project, but specific dollar amounts for the work were not determined. Berwyn and Cicero both have Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts on Roosevelt, Failor said, and could draw funds from there. Duncan’s work will help determine costs.

Community members on both sides of the street lauded the agreement last week.

“These three communities have gotten together and said it’s more important to improve the street in unison, rather than in conflict,” said Berwyn Mayor Michael O’Connor. “We’re working together as team … so it doesn’t look like there’s a line drawn down the middle of the street.”

“I think it’s a pretty exciting breakthrough in communication and a spirit of cooperation that probably hasn’t existed in the past,” said Barbara Harris, Cicero resident and member of the Roosevelt Road Advisory Committee.

“I think there’s so much going on, and so many more possibilities that, once you beautify the area, you’re going to get even more businesses coming in,” said Oak Park resident Paul Zimmermann, president of the Roosevelt Road Business Association, and property owner on both sides of the street.

Zimmermann pointed to residential developments at Grove Avenue and along Roosevelt just west of Walgreens as reasons for optimism. Combined with new restaurants like Salerno’s Pizza, Wishbone (Berwyn side), and Turco’s Italian Foods, he believes the district is on the upswing.

Other additions are in the works too. Oak Park Cigars moved from Oak Park Avenue down to the Berwyn side of Roosevelt. The village is looking to add a police substation near Taylor and Roosevelt, Police Chief Rick Tanksley said. And Community Bank of Oak Park- River Forest has acquired a piece of property at Home Avenue and Roosevelt to potentially build a branch facility, said CEO Martin Noll.

Zimmermann is also exploring the idea of running a street festival between Oak Park and East Avenues, which would need approval from, Berwyn, Oak Park, and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“I think Roosevelt Road is on the cusp of becoming a great destination with all the development and the buzz,” he said.


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