Cary Village Board to vote plan for downtown, which includes open gathering spaces

Also listed in the plan as an area needing improvements was the Route 14 and Main Street intersection

A strategic plan for Cary’s downtown that includes ideas for open gathering spaces, street improvements and other ways to revitalize the area is set to be considered by the Cary Village Board Tuesday evening.

The downtown strategic plan has been in the works for the last couple of years since the village submitted an application in 2018 to the Regional Transportation Authority’s Community Planning program for a grant to create a plan.

The grant from the Regional Transportation Authority covered more than 80% of the $115,000 project cost, as previously reported by the Northwest Herald.

Focusing on an area generally located within a half-mile of the village’s Metra station, the Downtown Cary Strategic Plan, created with Chicago-based consultants the Lakota Group, “presents a vision for the future of Downtown Cary and surrounding properties,” city staff said in a memo attached to Tuesday’s agenda.

Through open houses and surveys, those working on the plan found that residents think the strengths of Cary’s downtown include its “small-town charm, strategic location, and access to public transportation,” city staff said. On the flip side, people found the area’s lack of retail variety, pedestrian safety and lack of community spaces to be weaknesses.

The goals of the downtown plan are strengthening Cary’s market position; enhancing downtown’s physical appearance and urban design character; and improving and enhancing its “connectivity, mobility and parking systems.”

To achieve these goals, the downtown plan lays out a number of suggested strategies and actions for village officials to take, including establishing a network of plazas and gathering spaces; making downtown building enhancements; creating an official downtown brand and logo; doing street and sidewalk improvements; and putting in commuter enhancements, such as amenities and facilities adjacent to the Metra station.

Support was “overwhelming” for a community event space, according to the meeting’s agenda.

In the downtown plan, it stated that these gathering spaces do not need to be highly developed but should be “actively programmed and support adjacent businesses.”

Some suggestions for downtown streets were extensions to Industrial Drive across Cary-Algonquin Road and the creation of a new street into the Maplewood School site from Cary-Algonquin Road. Another idea is installing streetscape and improvements along the railroad crossing at Jandus Cut Off Road and along the Jandus Road corridor.

Also listed in the plan as an area needing improvements was the U.S. Route 14 and Main Street intersection, where the plan said safety has been a concern because of its “awkward geometry.” Cary’s Strategic Downtown Plan noted that the village is actively pursuing grants to fix this.

The Cary Village Board is set to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at 655 Village Hall Drive.

Cassie Buchman

I cover Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove and Oakwood Hills for the Northwest Herald.