After debating the details for over two hours with a good dose of public input, the Glen Ellyn Village Board on Monday night reached an agreement on the proposed Lenox-Linden roadway improvement projects.
By a 3-2 vote, the board approved five of the six recommendations of the village's Capital Improvements Commission -- with amendments.
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Village President Alex Demos did not have a vote, but spoke strongly for the need to widen roadways and add sidewalks not only for the benefit of residents, but for visitors as well.
"As I view decisions like this, I start with my No. 1 concern, which is safety, and the second primary concern is accessibility," Demos said. "I want what is the jewel of Glen Ellyn to be accessible."
The five of six recommendations approved include:
• From Hawthorne to Linden, the width of Lenox is to be widened from 25 to 28 feet, delineating an eight-foot parking lane along the entire stretch of Lenox in modular pavers.
• At the intersection of Lenox and Linden, do not raise the pavement surface, but provide an alternate bid item for modular pavers instead of an asphalt paving surface.
• From Linden to Essex, the width of Lenox is to be widened from 25 to 27 feet with adjustments at existing tree locations, and parallel parking using a modular paving surface.
• Between Essex and Oak on Lenox, no change in roadway width and no new sidewalk installed on the east side of the roadway where none currently exists.
• Working in cooperation with the park district to implement pavers consistent with their master plan, contributing the equivalent of a carriage sidewalk that the commission had recommended.
Neighbors of the proposal have spoken out against the street-widening project, questioning its necessity and whether the benefits outweigh the loss of green space, damage to trees and other issues. Seven spoke out Monday.
"The part that pains me the most is when I think about widening Lenox between Linden and Essex. I just cringe," said Christa Mannion, a Lenox Road resident. "Virtually no one parks there. I'm thinking why do we want to take green space out of the park? I don't see the benefit."
Plans for Lenox Road and Linden Street have been in development since last year, and the commission finalized its recommendations for those streets in April. The proposed improvements were brought before the village board of trustees for the first time at a workshop Sept. 16. The purpose of the widening from the commission's perspective would be to ease two-way travel along Lenox when cars are parked near Lake Ellyn Park.
"At first I was not going to widen this road at all," said Trustee Diane McGinley, who voted for the motion, "but after talking to so many people, it really is an issue to get down that street. I know it's been like that forever, but the town is growing, the use of it is growing, the events are growing, our cars are growing. Everything is growing and I do think it's a safety issue."
Trustees Timothy Elliott and Dean Clark also voted yes, with Robert Friedberg and Timothy O'Shea voting no.
"I truly think we're missing the point here," O'Shea said. "It's been this way for how many years and there's been no accidents. People who live on these streets don't complain. They're on it every day. Why do we care more than they do?"
Construction on Lenox Road and Linden Street will begin in 2014.