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June 2011 Blog posts

Placemaking at the forefront of the new Polish Triangle Marketplace

WPB, the Special Service Area for the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods, has become intricately involved in the stewardship of the Polish Triangle (located at the intersection of Milwaukee, Division and Ashland) since the area was identified as a critical neighborhood gateway in need of improvement in our 2009 WPB Master Plan. The Polish Triangle is host to three bus lines and a busy underground CTA Blue Line station, and is recognized and used by local residents as a public plaza. Unfortunately, this space has suffered from years of inactivity and neglect. In early 2009, WPB teamed up with the Metropolitan Planning Council to direct a Placemaking initiative for the Polish Triangle, with a wide range of neighborhood stakeholders serving on the initiative’s technical…

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Illinois’ fiscal shenanigans highlight need for a new federal transportation strategy


Wacker Drive Construction

Before they adjourned for the summer, the Illinois General Assembly approved a $33.2 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 state budget - $2 billion less than what Gov. Quinn originally proposed and just shy of the $33.5 billion FY 2011 budget. Though the Senate passed the budget bill, Senators thought the budget was “incomplete.” To restore some of the budget cuts to education and human services, they tacked on a $430 million amendment to the FY 2012 capital construction reauthorization that had already passed in the House. The capital construction reauthorization would allow the state to continue funding construction projects such as roads, bridges, and university infrastructure. However, the House voted to non-concur on the $430 million amendment to the capital construction…

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Micropark program expands in Northwest Indiana, creating new gathering places for communities

Photo curtesy of Neighborhoods, Inc.

New 'Micropark' welcomes neighbors

Last summer, my organization, Neighborhoods Inc. (NI), a not-for-profit dedicated to community development in Northwest Indiana, built 22 “microparks” in East Chicago homeowners’ front yards, each one a testament to how a small investment can have a big impact on communities. Each micropark – which costs $1,000-1,150 and consists of an attractive, stamped concrete pad with an ornamental bench and planter – created a new gathering place for the community in a participating homeowner’s front yard. Through this pilot project, known as “Please, Have a Seat!” neighbors and passersby now have 22 inviting places to meet and socialize with their neighbors, forming friendships and strengthening community bonds. We are very pleased to announce…

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Aurora’s Near East Side neighborhood vision

Picture by Justin Goh

Next time you visit Aurora, get of I-88 a little early, a few miles east of the downtown. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised. Aurora’s Near East Side neighborhood is unique in its historic homes, walkable tree-lined streets, and diverse community. As you drive in from neighboring towns to the east like Lisle and Naperville, you will see a stark change from large subdivisions, to a urban neighborhood just blocks from Aurora’s central business district and the Fox River. Home to the city’s first historic district and a strong Latino community, the Near East Side neighborhood residents see a bright future for the community, but know there are many challenges to overcome, including depreciating home values, needed job opportunities, and a lack of diverse retail…

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