A long-awaited River Forest village government commissioned study on traffic and parking in the heavily congested area surrounding Roosevelt Middle School will be the focus of a public meeting Sept. 17 by the panel charged with taking up those issues.

During the session, 7 p.m. at the middle school, the village government’s Traffic and Safety commission will take public comment. A second meeting is scheduled for Sept. 30 at 7 p.m., if needed. Recommendations on the commission’s findings will be sent to the village board, which will take final action sometime this fall.

The village’s study of issues in the Public, Recreational and Industrial Area, or PRI, focused on improving traffic patterns, congestion and safety there. In addition, the study centers on improving and maximizing the use of on street parking within the study area with careful consideration to peak times for parking and impact to residents in the surrounding area, village officials said.  

The PRI encompasses Quick Avenue on the south, Chicago Avenue on the north, Jackson Avenue on the east and Lathrop Avenue on the west and takes in the Middle School, Centennial Park, the public library, the River Forest Tennis Club and First Presbyterian Church. 

The study was commissioned in April to address long-standing parking issues that hadn’t been addressed since the PRI was carved out as part of the village’s comprehensive plan conducted more than a decade ago. 

This examination was independent of any plans that District 90 had to address its parking issues at Roosevelt. That issue was brought home loud and clear last month when the study was referred to Traffic and Safety: “We are not here to solve Roosevelt’s off-street parking problems, but what overflows into the streets of our municipality,” Village President Catherine Adduci said.

Parking has been the one issue that has created perhaps the most angst over the nearly three years that District 90 has reviewed, approved and changed plans to renovate the middle school’s exterior and deal with parking. The first plan was tabled and redrafted, with approval of that plan in December 2013. 

During a public meeting in March over that second iteration, some parents raised objections about how it left parking and safety issues at the school unresolved.  They urged the village to take an active role in helping resolve the concerns and in late March elected leaders of the village, school district, library and the park district looked at how the area could take on the feel of a campus. 

That meeting of public officials resulted in District 90’s third iteration of the Roosevelt project, which was approved by the school board in April. Another small group of parents living across the street from the school objected to that plan. Then in June, the school district decided to delay any review of that proposal by another village commission until officials saw what the village came up with in the traffic study.

That could yield yet a fourth iteration, school board officials said, after recommendations are approved by the village board of trustees, District 90 Supt. Ed Condon said. 

“We’re not waiting for the village to solve this problem,” Condon said in a phone interview following a discussion about the report by the board of education last week. “Any recommendation about Roosevelt will be complementary to what the village elects to pursue to address vehicle circulation and parking. It would be a shame if we proceeded without considering that.”

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