Although Riverside won’t be hiring someone to direct economic development efforts, the village will be getting a team of planning experts – gratis – to lead a comprehensive planning effort for the central business district in 2012.

Riverside is one of 64 communities chosen by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to be part of that agency’s Technical Assistance Program, which was developed to help implement CMAP’s Go To 2040 regional comprehensive plan.

The cost for the local planning effort will be paid for by CMAP through a $4.5 million grant the agency received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Riverside will be assigned a project manager, who will work with a team of planners in collaboration with the community to develop a plan for economic development in Riverside.

“The project will deal with the downtown,” said Village Manager Peter Scalera, who submitted an application to CMAP at the beginning of 2011. “I’m envisioning the development of some sort of plan to encourage new business opportunities in the downtown to fill our empty storefronts.”

Riverside trustees during their budget discussions late last year set aside $40,000 to hire someone to lead economic development efforts in the village. However, after making inquiries to planning firms, Scalera said the cost for such expertise would have been much higher than that figure.

For a full report, see the May 25 edition of the Landmark.

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