Posted on May 23, 2008 4:43 AM
Weekly Update, 5/23/08
Illinois Works proposal. The Illinois Works coalition announced this week a recommendation for a $31 billion capital infrastructure plan and how to fund it. Their recommendations follow a statewide listening tour launched in March and several meetings with Governor Blagojevich and the four legislative leaders. The outline of their recommendations is available here, but it does not include many details about the size or even the inclusion of some of the programs that are important to the region. Based on the available information, it is not clear whether the proposed program meets the five principles that the CMAP Board has endorsed or addresses the concerns that were outlined in the letter that was sent to the coalition last week. CMAP’s support is contingent on our agency being part of a transparent process of project selection that emphasizes clear outcomes and accountability. We are very happy that there is a proposal on the table regarding this critical issue and will continue to work with state, regional and local leaders to craft a program that improves our vital infrastructure.
Congressional delegation staff briefings. On Monday, we held a joint briefing in partnership with the RTA and IDOT for the staff of our congressional delegation in Washington D.C. We held a similar briefing for the district staff at our offices a couple of weeks ago. The focus of the briefing was on the upcoming transportation authorization and included highlights from the policy briefing that was presented to the CMAP Board at their April board meeting, focusing on the need for a new national transportation vision and a new structure to implement that vision. Current issues were also discussed. As you may recall, we held a briefing last year on the topic of water quality and quantity with the district staff to get them up-to-speed on water issues. There was interest from the participants, in both the district and the D.C. offices, to continue this forum as authorization moves closer and to work diligently on presenting a unified front in Washington on not only transportation issues, but other regional priorities as well.
Lake Michigan Academy meeting. This week's Lake Michigan Academy conference in Hammond, Indiana, was a forum for many experts and stakeholders in the Great Lakes basin who share a commitment to protecting those precious resources. Read about it in coverage from the Gary Post Tribune, including one story about invasive species and another about green infrastructure.
CREATE interview. Next week (probably Thursday, May 29), WBEZ 91.5 FM will air a news segment on the important issue of freight, as part of the station's participation in the Chicago Matters: Growing Forward media series. WBEZ reporter Chip Mitchell dropped by this week to interview me as part of the story, and he focused primarily on CREATE, the Chicago region's public/private partnership to address freight congestion. We discussed some of CREATE's successes to date, in terms of progress on the 78 projects and buy-in from the railroads, the City of Chicago, and the State of Illinois. Regarding the currently proposed Illinois capital program, I told him CMAP's position is that it should include $500 million ($100 million per year for five years) for CREATE. It will be interesting to hear the WBEZ story, which will probably reflect that some in the region are saying CMAP should "have a seat at the CREATE table." I do believe we can add value by bringing a regional perspective to that process.
Visitability in homes. The Village of Bolingbrook has an innovative program that requires new homes to be built to certain specifications that facilitate access for persons with disabilities. Read about it in this story about "visitability" on the Disaboom website. Mayor and CMAP Board member Roger Claar instituted these requirements, despite early concerns by developers about added costs (which have not really materialized, he said). It strikes me as a great initiative that other municipalities could learn from and possibly emulate. According to Eleanor Smith of the non-profit organization Concrete Change, “Builders are becoming more and more receptive to the idea of visitability. City planners are becoming interested in providing access in the building stage because the cost is much higher to retrofit a home. As a result of the high costs, their residents end up in nursing homes.”
The Illinois Constitution: Should it be rewritten? That's the title of a June 19 meeting of the Lake County Municipal League, where they will be joined by members of the Northwest Municipal Conference. Rep. John Fritchey will present the "pro" point of view, with former State Rep. Nancy Kaszak expressing the "con" position regarding the need for an Illinois Constitutional Convention. Rep. Fritchey represents the 11th District and has served since 1996. Ms. Kaszak is the executive director of the Coalition for the Illinois Constitution. She served as State Representative for the 34th District from 1992-1996. The meeting will held at the Vernon Hills Golf Course, 291 Evergreen (at Route 45) and begin at 6:00 p.m. with a social hour and hors d'oeuvres. The program begins at 6:45 pm. Cost is $20 for LCML and NWMC members, and $25 for non-members. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to (847) 270-3126. No-shows will be billed if a cancellation has not been made.
2008 Conservation and Native Landscaping Awards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Chicago Wilderness are accepting nominations for the 2008 Conservation and Native Landscaping Awards. This honor recognizes:
- Municipalities, park districts, and corporations that have successfully planted sites which are outstanding examples of the use of native plants in the landscape.
- Developers and communities that plan and construct residential or commercial developments which bring to life the principles of conservation development and sustainability.
Applications can be submitted by corporations, including developers and not-for profit organizations, park districts, and/or local governments in the Chicago Wilderness region. See http://www.epa.gov/greenacres
/awards.html for information and http://www.epa.gov/greenacres
/landscapeaward2008.html for the on-line application. For help, contact Danielle Green (312-886-7594 or email@example.com
) or Bob Newport (312-886-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org
)."Without a Safety Net" event.
There is still time to register
for "Without a Safety Net: How Can Suburban Communities Prepare for New Market Realities and Demographic Changes?" This Metropolitan Planning Council roundtable luncheon will highlight some of local suburban success stories in dealing with foreclosures, economic disinvestment, and the evolving needs of a changing population. Panelists will discuss the growing demand for organizational capacity to ensure a balanced housing stock, strong local economies, and support services for residents in all areas of the region. It will be held Wednesday, May 28, 2008, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Holland & Knight LLP, 131 S. Dearborn, 30th Floor, Chicago. Cost for MPC donors is $15, and $30 for non-donors. For more, contact Pam Lee at 312-863-6011.Green Fest recap.
The Green Festival 2008 was a great success for CMAP. Our booth (shared with the Metropolitan Planning Council) was perfectly situated between the Sierra Club, Coop-America and I-GO Cars, and we received constant traffic during the weekend. Visitors to the booth were attentive and interested in CMAP’s initiatives. Some people stayed for 20 minutes engaged in dialogue. Some participated in our "Imagine That . . ." photo activity organized by CMAP's Lindsay Banks, and the GO TO 2040
buttons were a big hit. Although most visitors to our booth that day were hearing about CMAP for the first time, we did get some oldies but goodies. Amy Talbot of CMAP stopped at a booth selling honey products called Beeline
, a North Lawndale small business that hires locally and utilizes almost 100 bee hives to collect honey and beeswax to make an assortment of products. The owner saw Amy's CMAP nametag and immediately gave her a huge hug and said how much she loved CMAP and what we are doing. It's nice to hear that we really do affect people at the local level. And Amy reports that the honey is delicious.
Here's wishing everyone a happy holiday weekend.