by Stephen Ostrander
Last month I wrote about the GO TO 2040 Community Design Workshops that CMAP is conducting throughout the region, which will add a visual dimension to the development of the GO TO 2040 plan.
A crucial step in the development of the GO TO 2040 plan is choosing a preferred future scenario. “Scenarios” are combinations of actions (policies, strategies, and investments) that represent alternative paths that the region could take toward reaching its desired future, as expressed in the Regional Vision. Three regional scenarios we are considering have been suitably-titled “Preserve,” “Reinvest,” and “Innovate.” In the Community Design Workshops, we are taking these three scenarios and visualizing them at the local level. In about fifteen different communities around the region, we have chosen a specific site to which we will apply each scenario, visually, in essence asking: If we choose this path over the coming decades, what might this site in this community look like in 2040? permalink
This month, a few of my colleagues and I have been leading meetings between small teams of architects, who will produce visualizations of the three scenarios, and local advisory committees (made up of planners, elected officials, and other members of the community), who are providing the design team with background information and context about the chosen site.
One of the communities that I am working with is the Village of Streamwood. Last week we held the primary meeting between the design team and the advisory committee representing this community of about 40,000. We evaluated the current problems, assets, and opportunities that exist in the chosen site, roughly a half-mile in diameter, which was once Streamwood’s commercial hub. Located smack dab in the middle of the community, the site has seen better days. It’s a fairly common story: commercial development has grown at Streamwood’s periphery over the past few decades, along wide arterial roads, while its pedestrian-accessible, smaller-scale commercial crossroads has declined. One of the site’s dilapidated strip malls, once home to Streamwood’s main supermarket, has been literally sinking over the years—an apt metaphor.
As the advisory committee helped the design team—and me—better understand the site, I realized that its decline occurred mostly over the past thirty years, which is, coincidentally, the same period of time that we were looking forward, as we imagine three different paths to its renaissance by 2040.
I was impressed by the members of the committee—which included the Village’s mayor, manager, parks planner, economic development commissioner, and engineer, joined by Village trustees, a police officer, a realtor, and one insightful resident. Why was I so impressed? In addition to being particularly well-organized, efficient, and perceptive, they exhibited a grounded optimism that acknowledged the site’s current problems while being imaginative and hopeful about its potential. Their pride in Streamwood is palpable, and the sad strip malls found on this site, while common to communities across the country, are out-of-sync with the community as a whole, which is healthy.
Many valuable observations and ideas were shared with the design team that evening. Next week, I’ll discuss some of the key themes!