Antioch is situated amid a bounty of natural areas and other attractions, but getting from one to another on foot or bike can be a challenge.
Village officials, with assistance from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and public input, want to change that by connecting the dots via a greenway system from the Chain O` Lakes to the Des Plaines River.
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The idea is to close gaps, improve access and connect destinations in what is being described as a "lifestyle corridor" that eventually could stretch for about 10 miles within the village and beyond.
"We hope to encourage people to adjust their lifestyles, if you will, do more hiking and biking," said Jason Navota, senior planner for CMAP. "Our task will be to create a more cohesive system."
While some pieces are in place, the big picture is incomplete.
Antioch successfully applied for the planning agency's Local Technical Assistance program, a federally funded effort to help implement the "GO TO 2040" comprehensive regional plan. To date, 59 local projects, including efforts in Lake Zurich, Grayslake, Waukegan, Round Lake Heights and Lakemoor in Lake County, for example, have been initiated.
Planning for Antioch's vision just got under way with the first of what will be monthly meetings of a steering committee.
"The idea is to put together the pieces of the puzzle," said village Trustee George Sakas, a committee member.
Sakas, the community development director for Schiller Park, said the route is known as a lifestyle corridor because of the number of uses it would traverse.
"There are a lot of things to see," he said. Those include natural areas, schools, community facilities, neighborhoods, the commuter rail station, the village's downtown and other features.
"One of my disappointments in Antioch is we are so close to the water and recreation and we don't have good access to it," Sakas said.
A general path could run from the state's Red Wing Slough, to Deep Lake Road, Depot Street, through the downtown, to Sequoit Creek and onto Lake Marie.
Dustin Nilsen, Antioch's director of planning and zoning, said access to areas has become more difficult over the years because of general growth and private ownership of shoreline areas. Re-establishing public access to the Chain 'O Lakes will be an important element of the plan, he added.
"This is a huge natural amenity," he said. "Allowing residents access is a quality-of-life feature."
The next step will involve compiling maps, previous studies and other information to create a base from which to proceed, Nilsen said. Public workshops and open houses also will be part of the process, with the first envisioned for late fall or winter.
"We'll ask the public, `What is it you'd like to see?'" Navota said.
As envisioned, the plan would include connections to regional trails. Pursuing those likely will entail collaboration between the village and other entities, such as the state.
"We need to figure out what kind of cake we're going to bake and then get the ingredients," Sakas said.