Progress in Apache Park

By TIM O’CONNOR Journal & Topics Reporter | CMAP

Plans to make the Apache Park neighborhood safer have sparked talk of a community meeting next month.

The city of Des Plaines is working with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to tackle crime problems in the neighborhood, considered one of the toughest in Des Plaines. That’s the area where a 26-year-old man was killed in a gang-related shooting in July 2011.

Since then, there has been discussion about a neighborhood development plan that would deter crime. The idea of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) was brought forward. Essentially, CPTED is a philosophy that urban planning and effective landscaping can prevent crime by making it more likely criminal activity is seen. To do that, public spaces are reconfigured to improve sight lines and funnel more people into an area. More eyes means more people watching out for suspicious activity, the thinking goes.

Developing those plans takes time, but the city took an important step last week. Aldermen approved the annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) action plan, which allocates $278,375 in federal funds to Des Plaines. CDBG money will partially fund local agencies like CEDA Northwest and the Center of Concern. The city also uses CDBG funds forhousing programs and brick and mortar projects for low-income neighborhoods.

The bulk of CDBG funding this year, $100,000, will go toward the Apache Park Neighborhood Plan.

In addition to utilizing CPTED principles, the plan calls for improving aesthetics and maintenance in Apache Park and providing design recommendations for new, reused, and infill development, including mixed-use projects.

A steering committee made up of residents, city staff, Ald. Jim Brookman (5th) and consulting firms Teska and Ginkgo Planning and Design was formed earlier this year and first met on July 22. Scott Mangum, senior planner for the city, said they are next scheduled to meet on Aug. 28. That meeting could be followed up with a gathering of residents in September.

“We’re hoping to have a larger community meeting,” Mangum said, though a date and place have not yet been determined.

Residents at that meeting will be asked to fill outa survey relating to conditions in the neighborhood. Teska has even developed an iPhone, iPad and Android app to allow residents to become more involved in the project and give their input.

Mangum said the goal is to, “get information about the neighborhood and what they see as strong points of the neighborhood and opportunities to make improvements.”

The plan itself won’t be wrapped up until some time in spring 2014. Mangum said they would get into details about possible physical improvements to the area as the process continues.

The CDBG documents list the target date of completion for the neighborhood plan as Sept. 30, 2014. A project timeline call for a public open house in January 2014 and a presentation to the city council in February 2014.

Online Article: