Historical images covering the windows of vacant properties in downtown Riverside, a left-turn lane on Ogden Avenue at Joliet Avenue and new bike racks at the train station and throughout the downtown area are some of the things residents may expect to see beginning in 2016.
Those initiatives were some of those mentioned by Village President Ben Sells on Dec. 3 during his presentation on the village’s efforts to implement the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s downtown comprehensive plan, which was adopted by the village board in 2013.
Among the more notable initiatives being worked on for 2016 and beyond is an Economic Development Commission effort to research using window screening with images of historic Riverside to cover windows of vacant storefronts.
According to Village Manager Jessica Frances, the commission is considering creating a consistent look, researching potential vendors to produce the window screening, and weighing whether the village ought to subsidize the cost of screening the windows of private properties.
Frances said the village’s efforts to create new branding materials would play into any screening design.
Sells, on Dec. 3, also addressed the possibility of the Illinois Department of Transportation creating a left-turn lane on eastbound Ogden Avenue at Joliet Avenue, the road leading to the village’s southern gateway to the downtown area.
According to Sells, IDOT has reportedly told the village of Lyons that the left-turn lane was approved for installation. But, said Sells, because of a freeze on state funds, IDOT has not been able to give Lyons officials a specific date for the work.
“It is a promised improvement,” Sells said.
Meanwhile, Riverside has been awarded $48,400 in grant funds from the federal Transportation Alternatives Program, which is administered locally through CMAP. The money will be used for bike racks, including one or two covered racks, in the downtown area.
According to Frances, the village applied for the grant funding in early 2015 for the $60,000 initiative. The balance will be funded by the village.
Frances said “one, possibly two” covered bike racks would be located near the downtown train station and would be geared toward commuters who bike to the train. Others would be located in as-yet-undetermined locations throughout the downtown area.
Before any bike racks are approved for placement, the plan would be reviewed by the Riverside Preservation Commission and the Landscape Advisory Commission, according to Frances.
Placement of the racks “would depend on the recommendations of the commissions,” Frances said.
But it’ll be a couple of years before any new bike racks appear. While the village requested the funding for 2016, CMAP has scheduled the funds to be released in 2018.
The village is also pursuing a partnership with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) to help defray the cost of a storm sewer separation project scheduled for construction in 2016.
Riverside has budgeted two storm-sewer separation projects next year. One of those projects, known as the Railroad Watershed Outlet, will disconnect storm sewers west of First Avenue from the village’s combined sewer system to the east. Part of that project includes building a storm sewer outfall structure on the west bank of the river. Riverside is looking to obtain about $60,000 from the MWRD to help fund that project.
The village is also exploring Urban Waters grant funding through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency as it seeks to restore Swan Pond Park next year. According to Frances, the Urban Waters grant could be used to help pay for permeable pavers to be installed as a walking path along the river bank, replacing the asphalt path there now.
However, the village has not submitted an application at this time for an Urban Waters grant.
Finally, the village likely will move to begin to look more comprehensively at its facilities and the needs of the village as it pertains to facilities, such as police and fire stations and recreation.
Part of that global look at facilities will include an evaluation of the so-called Youth Center building east of the Riverside Township Hall, which serves as a fire department training facility, for storage and as a place to house vehicles.
“We need to take a high-level look at what the needs of the community are,” said Frances.
Any plan calling for the demolition and replacement of the Youth Center with another structure realistically is years down the road and would be an expensive proposition.
“Whatever determination is made will be such a significant figure that it will require referendum funding,” Sells said.