Access, Amenities, Opportunity: MPC launches Reconnecting Neighborhoods project - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Access, Amenities, Opportunity: MPC launches Reconnecting Neighborhoods project

In partnership with the City of Chicago, Regional Transportation Authority, and HNTB, in November, MPC convened citywide stakeholders in community planning initiative in three neighborhoods.

On Nov. 6, 2007, MPC and its partners officially commenced their Reconnecting Neighborhoods project to identify needed transit, retail and pedestrian improvements in three Plan for Transformation communities.

More than 100 stakeholders and residents representing Chicago's Near North, Near West, and Mid-South sides participated in the launch, which also drew representatives from the Chicago departments of Transportation and Planning and Development, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Ill. Dept. of Transportation, and RTA. A number of state and local elected officials attended the half-day convening, including Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th Ward), Ill. Sens. Kwame Raoul and Mattie Hunter, and Ill. Rep. Ken Dunkin.

ShoreBank Vice Chairman Todd Brown, a member of MPC's Board of Governors, who co-chairs Reconnecting Neighborhoods with DPD Commissioner Arnold Randall, said the public and private sector involvement demonstrated at the launch event is what's necessary to tackle the tough questions this project intends to tackle.

“Some of you may be sitting here wondering why we should start such an effort when we are in the middle of a funding crisis at both the state and the local level, especially regarding our transit system," Brown said. "My answer would be that funding problems are only symptomatic of deeper systemic issues, there is no better time to reassess assets and resources than in a crisis, and Reconnecting Neighborhoods is a step toward adjusting how we think about the cost and management of transit, retail, urban development, public services."

“This Reconnecting Neighborhoods planning process will lead to recommendations for specific improvement," explained Randall. "It will also provide an opportunity for neighbors to meet each other – and with officials from city and state agencies – to create a genuine consensus on how to rebuild these neighborhoods around their strengths.”

The Partnership for New Communties, a project partner and supporter, has prepared a summary of the Reconnecting Neighborhoods launch, available on the PNC Web site.

The November 6th event was only the beginning of Reconnecting Neighborhoods. Moving forward, MPC will be working closely with the residents, employers and elected officials in the three neighborhoods to develop recommendations for access to transit, jobs and other essential opportunities that reflect their collective vision of what their neighborhoods can be.

To learn more about the Reconnecting Neighborhoods project, visit www.reconnectingneighborhoods.org.

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