Front Street streetscape project set to wrap up by end of month

Project features relocated Martin Memorial Plaza

WHEATON – By the end of the month, work is expected to be complete on the Front Street streetscape project in downtown Wheaton.

On April 6, Wheaton officials broke ground on a multimillion-dollar streetscape project that will create a new look for Front Street, including new street lamps, benches, trees and planters and wider sidewalks. As part of the project, Martin Memorial Plaza has been relocated to the north side of Front Street from its previous spot at the southwest corner of Front and Main streets.

"The contractor and the city engineers are assuring us that the project will be completed by the end of September, with some tweaking and polishing up, if you will, by early October," said Paula Barrington, executive director of the Downtown Wheaton Association. "So we are looking forward to the completion of those four blocks."

Barrington said the new plaza will have more amenities.

"You've got a water feature at one end, and you have what I call a community fireplace at the other end, with cafe seating in the center," she said. "And that's really going to become a new focal point for our downtown."

A grand-opening celebration for the new plaza will be in October, Barrington said. Officials originally expected the project would be completed by the end of August. However, its completion was pushed back mainly because of weather delays.

The opening of the new plaza will be just in time for upcoming Downtown Wheaton Association festivities, including the Boo-Palooza Halloween celebration, which will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 27 at the new plaza.

Children can trick-or-treat from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at downtown businesses, and a Halloween costume contest will take place from 10 to 10:30 a.m. at the new plaza. Prizes will be awarded for the most colorful, the most creative and the cutest.

In addition, Wheaton Mulch will offer free hay rides from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., starting across from the plaza. The day also will feature giant pumpkin carving and a live demonstration by artist Joe Adkins of Wheaton.

Children also are invited to participate in the Trunk-or-Treat event from 10 a.m. to noon at Gary United Methodist Church at North Hale and Seminary streets.