Residents from a subdivision near Addison argued Tuesday on both sides of a plan in which DuPage County forest preserve land would be used for a temporary access road.
About a dozen residents from the 116-home Kingery West subdivision gave passionate arguments on whether the forest preserve should provide land from Cricket Creek Forest Preserve that would make it easier for the village of Addison to build a temporary road near their remote homes.
Currently, there is only one frontage road that permits entrance and exit from the subdivision, southwest of Lake Street and Route 83. That's because the Fullerton Avenue bridge, which provides access to the subdivision, is under construction for the next 18 months or so.
The Bruce/Central Avenue Connector, as the proposed street is dubbed, would require .06 acres of forest preserve land and would cost Addison and Addison Township between $50,000 and $75,000 to build, officials said. The 375-foot long street would be 22 feet wide, with 1-foot shoulders. Addison officials said they would remove it and restore the forest preserve land after the Fullerton Avenue bridge is repaired and operational.
"This area is a haven for residents and animals," said Cathy Daul, whose family has lived in the subdivision for 50 years. "There are multiple safety issues (in) connecting these two residential streets to the two busiest nearby thoroughfares. Neither law enforcement or traffic signs would prohibit the daily traffic this would create."
Other residents echoed Daul, arguing the road would destroy forest preserve land, compromise the safety of pedestrians, children, pets and even other drivers. Many said the temporary road would simply be a "convenience" to the residents who support it at a high cost to the environment.
"I don't want this to be an us-against-them thing," resident Tom Leakakos said. "I think this affects all of our ways of life. I don't think we should sacrifice all the reasons that we moved there, the way of life, for convenience. I think the money would be better spent to expedite the repair of the bridge."
As things stand now, it requires a four-mile detour for subdivision motorists who want to head north on Route 83. In addition, emergency vehicles that respond to the area must open a locked gate on an emergency access road. The new road would allow the residents easier access to both Lake Street and Route 83.
The forest preserve land desired for the project would make the road safer, Addison Village Manager John Berley said. But Addison could still go ahead with the project even if the commissioners reject the request; the road would instead have to be built at angles that are more difficult to navigate, Berley said.
He also added that 174 people petitioned the village in favor of building the road, while 27 people petitioned against it. But protesting residents argued Tuesday those numbers are not accurate.
Residents in favor of the road told the commission it's a necessity, because the current situation deters them from errands, more than triples some commute times, and forces them to spend more money on gas.
Arlene Brettillo, a 15-year subdivision resident, said it's a safety issue.
"We have no other way of getting out of our streets and out of our homes, except to going to 83, which during rush hour is taking your life in your hands," Brettillo said.
Loretta Proctor, and Addison resident for 48 years, said her neighbors' argument about convenience is "laughable."
"The bottom line is they don't want traffic going down their street," she said. "(But) people have to live. This is a necessity. We have to get out of our area. The cost of gas is costing us an arm and a leg."
Forest commissioners did not make a decision Tuesday on whether to allow Addison to use its land. Forest Preserve President D. "Dewey" Pierotti said it is important to note that the road may be built regardless of the district's decision.
"If the board decides they don't want to cooperate, is that going to stop it? No," Pierotti said. "This is going to be determination made by the (Addison) village board. I don't want to put the onus on us that we are making the final determination. The role of this board, as I see it, is if the determination is made that you are going to put this entrance in, are we going to help it be safer or not?"