With the Central Business District a central topic of conversation in the village in recent weeks, Riverside will soon embark on a plan to help guide future downtown redevelopment.

In April, a committee composed of village staff, residents, property owners, business owners, and representatives from the RTA, Metra and Pace will meet to kick off work on the Historic Riverside Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Plan.

The plan will concentrate on the area surrounding the main Riverside Metra station, including Burlington and Quincy Streets up to Cowley Road, Forest Avenue to Kimbark, Pine and East avenues, Centennial Park, Guthrie Park and Burling and Riverside Roads.

In 2003, the village passed a new zoning ordinance for the area. Village Manager Kathleen Rush hopes the TOD study will provide a framework for implementing those zoning changes.

“What I’m looking for is a plan that’s implementable, that people get behind … to revitalize the Central Business District,” Rush said. “We have the zoning in place, but we don’t have a vision behind it. If it improves the viability of the business district, that’s one good way to keep the community strong.”

The idea for the TOD study grew out of a parking analysis Rush was doing for the Central Business District. It grew into a more comprehensive redevelopment plan when Rush learned of a grant opportunity from Metra. The TOD study is funded primarily via a $60,000 grant from Metra; the village is kicking in $15,000.

Because the plan is being funded substantially by Metra, its focal point will be the train station. The plan will address transportation modes, a comprehensive parking plan and a strategy for implementing a “way-finding” system, which would provide information and direction to both transportation and parking in the downtown area. Apart from serving commuters in those ways, Metra is interested in downtown redevelopment as a way to boost and maintain ridership.

In many respects, Riverside’s TOD study will resemble the master planning process recently completed by the Village of Brookfield. The difference will be principally one of scale. Whereas Brookfield addressed several different areas in the village, from 31st Street to 47th Street, Riverside will concentrate on its historic downtown. Little, if any, attention will be focused on Harlem and Ogden avenues.

But the same urban planning firm that guided the Brookfield process?”URS/TPAP?”has been hired as the principal consultant for the study. BauerLatoza, an urban planning firm known for historic preservation work, will be involved in a support role.

Next month the committee assembled by the village will meet to compile information about the downtown area and set a schedule for the process, which is expected to take anywhere from six to eight months.

During the summer, the village’s consultants will conduct two community workshops to gather input from residents, one of which will result in the formulation of a “vision” statement, regarding Riverside’s goals and objectives for the downtown area.

Together with that vision statement, the consultants will prepare three TOD concepts that will include suggestions on land use, development, parking and traffic circulation, pedestrian amenities and streetscaping and the train station facilities.

A second community workshop will seek to refine the suggestions laid out in the three TOD concepts and agree on a preferred concept plan for the area. Separate plans for parking/circulation and urban design will provide further detail for the preferred concept plan.

The final aspect of the TOD study will be a plan for implementing it, from cost estimates to prioritizing aspects of the study.

Information on meeting times and dates will be published as information becomes available.