A Comprehensive Plan for Franklin Park
UPDATE: The Existing Conditions Report, which has been reviewed by the steering committee and Village staff, is available for download here.
The Village of Franklin Park, located in Cook County just south of O'Hare International Airport, is a built-out community with a solid mix of residential, industrial, and commercial assets. Many transportation improvements – including the Elgin-O'Hare Western Access (EOWA) project – are occurring that will affect residents and businesses in Franklin Park, and consequently the Village is ready to update its comprehensive plan to prepare for the next 10 to 15 years. With approximately 18,000 residents and more than 800 businesses, Franklin Park serves a wide variety of interests, and has undergone a number of strong planning efforts over the last decade to improve quality of life and economic growth.
With assistance from the CMAP Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program, the Village will create a new comprehensive plan that will build upon these previous studies and plans, in addition to incorporating community input. This plan will focus on harmonizing land uses, increasing the economic prosperity of downtown and commercial corridors, and supporting recommendations from the Village's Industrial Corridor Plan (completed in 2014).
This planning process includes three phases, each of which involves public input. The first phase analyzes the Village's existing conditions, using information gathered from a steering committee, interviews with key stakeholders, a community workshop, economic and demographic data, and existing plans and studies. The second phase will capture a shared vision for the future of Franklin Park and identify specific goals and objectives necessary to achieve that vision. The third phase will create the comprehensive plan document, outlining the policies, programs, and actions needed to implement the Village's plan.
Residents and community stakeholders have multiple opportunities to be engaged throughout this planning process. The next opportunity will be a public open house to review the draft plan, and it will likely occur in late Summer or early Fall 2016.
Public Visioning Workshop
Approximately 30 attendees participated in the public visioning workshop on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, at Franklin Park Police Station (9451 Belmont, Franklin Park). After a short presentation, CMAP staff facilitated a mapping and discussion activity around four key topic areas designed to encompass the Village's issues and opportunities: housing, revitalization, active transportation, and natural resources. While at each of the topic tables, participants were asked to come up with big ideas for each topic. Here were their responses:
- Add townhouses and quality multifamily.
- Redevelop the central Metra station and old police station with mixed-use commercial and residential.
- Redevelop the former Motorola building at Grand Avenue and Martens Street into mixed use commercial and residential.
- Create a gated community near Des Plaines River Road, similar to what exists in Rosemont.
- Franklin Avenue should have more restaurants, including an upscale Latin restaurant as part of its cultural mix; a library; a theater; and specialty shops.
- Add to fire museum to make it a full Franklin Park museum with train and Village history.
- New hotels similar to Westin, Holiday Inn on Mannheim Road.
- Add character and streetscape treatments along commercial corridors.
- Better bus stops or terminals at Metra stations to make connections easier.
- Pedestrian under- or overpass in the center of Village.
- Improve the Des Plaines River Trail and other segments to create a trail that connects several communities.
- Free circulator trolley.
- Wayfinding signs for bikes and pedestrians.
- Acquire homes and properties in floodplains, and repurpose as open space.
- Community nursery to plant and share vegetables.
- Reciprocal agreements to allow residents to use park district facilities across different jurisdictions.
- Though the small, neighborhood parks and playgrounds are good, create larger tracts of open space.
Visioning Focus Groups
CMAP staff conducted focus groups throughout March and April 2016 to get input from representatives of groups important to the future of Franklin Park: high school students, local businesses (Chamber by O'Hare), seniors, and young families and professionals.
A focus group with Franklin Park students who attend East Leyden High School was held Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Students were mixed on whether they envisioned themselves returning to live in Franklin Park as adults. They proposed several ideas for redevelopment and revitalization of Franklin Park's commercial corridors through a mapping activity.
On March 31, 2016, CMAP staff attended a Chamber by O'Hare meeting at Underpass Restaurant and Lounge, (9400 Grand Ave., Franklin Park) and spoke directly with the leadership and partners of several local businesses. Franklin Park business representatives took a short survey and provided suggestions and visions for ways to make the Village better for their businesses.
On Tuesday, April 19, 2016, CMAP staff conducted a focus group with Franklin Park seniors at the Center at North Park (10040 Addison St., Franklin Park). The discussion covered a wide range of issues, including traffic congestion, high property taxes, safety, and environmental concerns. In response to these issues, the participants proposed ideas for solutions.
Young Families and Professionals
On Saturday, April 23, 2016, young families and professionals participated in a survey and mapping activity (Aracely's Bakery, 9667 Franklin Avenue). Via the survey, attendees listed attractive features about Franklin Park and shared how local government could improve their quality of life. Through a mapping activity, several planning ideas were proposed. In general, people would like to see more community involvement in Franklin Park through establishment of neighborhood groups, block clubs, and other social functions. The local Latino community was represented by several attendees.
Public Kickoff Meeting
The first chance to get involved was on Tuesday, August 4, 2015, at the Franklin Park Police Station (9451 Belmont, Franklin Park), where more than 40 residents and representatives of various governmental agenices attended. At this meeting, participants learned about the comprehensive planning process and shared their ideas about the strengths and challenges facing the Village.
Residents identified these key Village strengths, which should be leveraged in trying to improve quality of life:
- Location near O'Hare airport, highways, and rail transportation, with three Metra stops in the community
- Robust and supportive businesses, notably industrial businesses; these provide jobs for residents, contribute to the local tax base, and give back to the community.
- Responsive and quality Village staff, Police Department, and Fire Department
- Affordable and attainable homeownership
- High-quality schools
The following were cited by multiple participants as major issues in Franklin Park:
- Train horn noise
- Poor north-south traffic circulation
- Flooding in the core areas of the Village
- Unsafe pedestrian access near rail crossings
- Lack of bicycle facilities
- Struggle to retain residents and attract new residents
- Downtown area/Franklin Avenue corridor that could be more inviting
Other issues that emerged included the need to improve the Village's reputation as a place to live, some under-developed and -utilized park facilities, and not enough transit-oriented development around the Franklin Park Metra station on the Milwaukee District-West line.
Chicago Tribune, July 27, 2015: New comprehensive plan in works to shape Franklin Park
Chicago Tribune, Aug. 11, 2015: Franklin Park residents weigh in on village's future
Journal Online, March 17, 2016: Residents to discuss good, bad, ugly of Franklin Park
John Schneider, Director of Community Development, Village of Franklin Park (847-671-8300)
John Carlisle, CMAP Project Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-386-8839)
For more on the project and upcoming events, follow CMAP's Twitter feed, @ONTO2050, and hashtag #CMAPLTA for the latest updates.