Northwest Quadrant Plan Applauded

Residents like plan to make Deerfield civic campus more pedestrian-friendly

By John P. Huston, Chicago Tribune reporter
March 25, 2013

A blueprint to make Deerfield’s civic campus more pedestrian-friendly and visually appealing met with positive reviews from residents at a public feedback session.

The Northwest Quadrant Unified Task Force has been working to create an amendment to Deerfield’s comprehensive plan that would plot out upgrades to the area around Jewett Park, which also includes Village Hall, the Public Library, a Metra station and First Presbyterian Church.

Concepts include creating more pedestrian-friendly north/south and east-west pathways through the quadrant; creating an enlarged staircase and pavilion in the park, just west of the Public Library; an elevated “tree-top boardwalk” in a cluster of oak trees just west of Village Hall; and reconfigured parking.

The idea is to make it “friendly and inviting to pedestrians and to accommodate the traffic — not facilitate it,” said Village Trustee Tom Jester, task force chairman.

“There was some very progressive thinking on the village’s part to make this into the civic cultural center place of the village,” said Jodi Mariano, of planning consultant Teska Associates. “It can become the place that you would want to bring your family and friends from out of town, the place that just looks fantastic and represents, ‘This is Deerfield. This is fabulous.”

Cost estimates have yet to be attached to the concepts with Jester saying the list of projects could be implemented over the next five to 20 years when the opportunity arises.

“It’s going to be a lot of money, and I can tell you that right now, in the scheme of things, there isn’t a lot of money to do this,” Jester told about 25 people at a recent open house. “So it will take the village awhile to come up with the funding sources and how to set about to accomplish it.”

The quadrant is bounded by Waukegan Road on the east, Deerfield Road on the south, Hazel Avenue on the north, and Metra’s Milwaukee District North Line tracks on the west.

Suzan Hawkinson, a task force member and pastor of First Presbyterian Church, said safety is a key concern when making enhancements to the quadrant, where vehicles commingle with pedestrians in between the park’s baseball diamonds and the village’s library and Village Hall.

“There are so many children and so many cars,” Hawkinson said.

Frances Griffin, a Deerfield resident and First Presbyterian Church member, said that previous plans have looked at parts of the area but that this plan may be more successful.

“This whole quadrant has been talked about for a long time,” Griffin said. “This has some merit. If we can get some details worked out, we might be on track to do something.”

Joab Silverglade and Susie Cutler live in a home in the quadrant, just south of Hazel. Cutler stressed the importance of fountains and tables, or possibly street-side vendors, to provide a more inviting use for 20- and 30-year-olds. She said there are plenty of park uses for younger and older residents.

Silverglade was generally pleased with the ideas.

“It does go a long way toward making a walking community,” he said.

Cost estimates are likely to be paired next month with the most recent set of concepts before the task force makes a recommendation to the Village Board, which could consider them in May as an amendment to Deerfield’s 2004 comprehensive plan, Jester said.