DeKALB – Preliminary meetings of the four subcommittees of the Annie Glidden North Revitalization Task Force continued Friday as members committed to transportation, infrastructure and open space, and discussed parking, lighting and other options in the area.
The about 30-person task force of community stakeholders was broken into four groups to offer more focused discussions on problems facing the area. DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith approved the appointments of all of the subcommittee members during Monday’s City Council meeting.
Aaron Stevens, management analyst for the city of DeKalb, asked for suggestions on a number of topics, including pedestrian assistance, public transportation, parking, lighting and the status of Welsh Park, where hours recently were changed so that it closes from sunset to sunrise.
Several questions were raised about the efficiency of the TransVAC Green Line through the neighborhood, but with the DeKalb Sycamore Area Transportation Study working on creating an integrated transit line with Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Line and modifying routes, subcommittee members decided that having a representative of the study on hand next meeting to answer questions would be helpful.
When it came time to discuss parking proposals, Kurt Thurmaier, a professor and chairman of NIU’s Department of Public Administration, who acted as the informal chairman to the meeting, remarked that DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery already is dictating parking plans.
Andrew Knox, an NIU sophomore who lives in the neighborhood, asked whether a neighborhood parking lot would be feasible and beneficial. DeKalb park board member Patricia Perkins responded, saying lots often are areas of criminal activity.
“They’re a magnet for things you don’t want to see in the community,” she said.
In December, the City Council approved the first phase of the Safe Streets Initiative, a multiphase effort to control parking in the neighborhood by setting parking restrictions and establishing parking permits for residents. Residents have been critical of the plan because it will require $25 annual permits, which some view as a means of generating revenue for the city at the expense of the neighborhood’s residents.
As for improved lighting in the neighborhood, ComEd is working on a street light program that will replace about 1,000 lights with LED bulbs this year. DeKalb Public Works Director Tim Holdeman said the Annie Glidden North neighborhood is a priority in the first wave of replacements.
The group agreed to hold a meeting focused on transportation infrastructure with representatives of the DeKalb Sycamore Area Transportation Study and one focused on green space that might involve DeKalb Park District Executive Director Amy Doll or board President Phil Young. These both would be held before coming up with any recommendations.
Lynn Fazekas said during public comment that she was appalled by the numerous Open Meetings Act violations she had observed. With the meeting designated as a special meeting, committee members only would be able to discuss items that are on the agenda, but Fazekas said multiple topics discussed were not on the agenda, thus violating the act.
The Chicago-based planning firm Camiros was hired by the city in August to carry out a four-phase plan costing no more than $83,550 and lasting through April to make the Annie Glidden North neighborhood more desirable and safe.
Since then, several task force meetings and two community meetings have been held to gather public input. Two more community meetings are planned, although no dates have been set.
A committee focused on housing and commercial development, and another focused on neighborhood safety and security, already had met Thursday. The final group, which is committed to community services, will hold its first meeting Thursday.
The transportation subcommittee's next meetings will be at 4 p.m. March 2,
3 p.m. March 19 and 3 p.m. March 26.