© The Lakota Group, Inc. , a 2008 CNU Illinois Charter Award Winner
What if we preserve the best features of our communities and region for generations to come, trying to accommodate growth without changing what we value in the region?
Existing suburban and urban communities could look much like they do today, with moderate increases in density. Without dramatically changing the character of our communities quality of life could be improved by aesthetic improvements to our public spaces, streetscaping, and planning for diverse communities. The region's Transportation system could be upgraded to serve more people more efficiently, but without major new projects -- instead, it could use small-scale improvements like the addition of bike lanes, sidewalks, and more transit.
This future for our region would preserve our assets -- but it might be difficult to accommodate our region's growth between now and 2040.
Policy and Investment Choices for "Preserve"
In 2040, much of the region will resemble our older, mixed-use, medium-density communities. Growth will occur in existing communities in a way that does not damage their assets or character, and preserves their affordability and accessibility to diverse residents.
Community character will be preserved and strengthened by
- use of urban design principles to allow communities to accommodate new development without negative effects
- housing preservation programs that reinvest in existing affordable housing stock
- policies designed to facilitate "aging in place," which allows elderly residents to remain in their homes and communities through affordable housing provisions and corresponding urban design strategies
Housing energy and service costs will be further reduced by household-level activities, including
- energy efficiency retrofits in residential buildings
- small-scale water conservation activities
Social systems in our communities will be strengthened by investments that improve accessibility for all, including
- better coordination of human services through a statewide 211 system
- expansion of paratransit service
The region's success in attracting and retaining businesses will depend primarily on the quality of our workforce, as businesses will increasingly value human capital. The economy will continue to shift toward professional, finance, tourism, and service-based jobs which capitalize on the region's reputation for a high quality of life.
The quality of our workforce will be strengthened by
- investments in human and community development through education, workforce development, arts and culture, and similar activities
The region will preserve the natural environment by explicit protection of these resources and the sensitive design of infrastructure that affects them. Measures will be taken to conserve energy and natural resources, focusing on small-scale solutions for conservation rather than major investments in infrastructure or technology.
To preserve the region's most sensitive natural assets, identified in the Green Infrastructure Vision, we will promote
- preservation of the most sensitive environmental land through open space acquisition programs
- ecosystem restoration and waterway preservation activities
Energy consumption will be reduced by
- linkages between local food production and distribution systems (which will also support local agriculture)
- resource conservation programs including energy efficiency retrofits in buildings, small-scale water conservation activities, and increases in recycling, composting, and other waste disposal programs
Transportation improvements will focus on making small-scale, low-capital improvements to the current system, such as improved transit operations or more bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Even without major capacity increases, the transportation system will operate more effectively by making systematic management and operations improvements.
We will follow a "complete streets" approach, which includes implementation of
- bicycle and pedestrian improvements
- access management programs, and continual improvement of signal timing on arterial roadways
Significant transit improvements include
- increasing transit service frequency without major changes to existing transportation facilities
- the extension of transit service to current unserved or underserved areas
- the improvement of paratransit service through coordinated systems
Aided by other low-capital, operational improvements, such as
- the implementation of transportation demand management techniques by employers
- the expansion of car-sharing programs
- changes in parking policy that encourage shared parking and reduce overall parking
- the use of context sensitive solutions in the planning, design, and construction of infrastructure
Transportation strategies have been evaluated in combinations, as scenarios. A report which describes the evaluation assumptions and results is available here.