Crest Hill residents help plot city’s future

Rex Robinson | 1/15/2014, 10 p.m. | Updated on 1/15/2014, 11:59 p.m.
New sidewalks linking neighborhoods, bike and walking paths weaving throughout the city, a new city hall and a pedestrian bridge ...
Doug Hammel, senior associate for Hoseal Lavigne Associates, speaks to residents and city officials at Monday night’s Visioning Workshop in Crest Hill. Photo by Rex Robinson

New sidewalks linking neighborhoods, bike and walking paths weaving throughout the city, a new city hall and a pedestrian bridge over Weber Road.

Those were just some of the amenities Crest Hill residents came up with at a visioning workshop held Monday night. More than 40 people – a mix of residents, city council members and planning commission members – attended the workshop held at the White Oak Library District’s Crest Hill branch.

It was the third public meeting in which the city and consultants from Houseal Lavigne Associates sought input from residents for what will be Crest Hill’s new comprehensive plan, something Mayor Ray Soliman referred to as a “wish list” for the city’s future.

Armed with markers and maps of the city, residents and city officials split up into seven different groups and spent more than an hour coming up with ideas on everything from transportation, parks, open space and recreation to sustainability, community facilities, employment and industry.

Doug Hammel, senior associate with Chicago-based Houseal Lavigne, urged the groups to be realistic in coming up with ideas for the city’s future.

“There’s a difference between hallucinating and visioning,” Hammel quipped. “If you think that Stateville (Prison) is going to turn into a NASA launch pad, it’s probably not going to happen.”

As the process unfolded, the groups went to work coming up with ideas and drawing them on the maps.

Bill Gallagher said he would like the city to have better public transportation and more buses to pick up residents and take them to Joliet. Other residents who attended the workshop said they would like to seeing a pedestrian bridge over Weber Road so residents and children could safely get across the busy highway to shop. Others were interested in Crest Hill building an outlet mall in the center of town.


Sylvia Zielke shares her vision of Crest Hill's future

Sylvia Zielke's group pointed to improving the city’s image as an important future project. They want the city to spruce up the gateways into Crest Hill and establish stricter beautification policies for commercial and residential properties.

Some of the residents said they would like to see a community center with a band shell for the center of town. Many also want to see more sidewalks and walking/bike paths throughout the city and some said digital billboards and signs would be a good way to bring revenue into the city.

Soliman said the meeting was very productive and the residents came up with many good ideas. Those ides, he said, will help Crest Hill develop the comprehensive and then prioritize projects as funds become available.

“It all comes down to money,” Soliman said.

Hammel encouraged residents to stay involved in the process. Moving forward, anyone can submit ideas for the plan via the city’s website at cityofcresthill.com. Another workshop is scheduled for Jan. 27.

“We get our ideas from these workshops,” Hammel said. “This is how we figure out what the issues are.”

Rex Robinson can be reached at rex@thetimesweekly.com and news@thetimesweekly.com