Des Plaines to look at streamlining news boxes

Even as a journalist, you won't hear me stick up for the beauty of news boxes.

But their freedom to exist on the sidewalk as a matter of free speech, well that's when I will pipe up.

Courts have found that restrictions on newspaper boxes must not be so tight as to conflict with free speech.

Des Plaines planners think they can meet these guidelines and spruce up the sidewalks.

Michael Conlan, director of community and economic development, wants to the city to look at boxes similar to those in Chicago.

This would offer a more streamlined approach than the piecemeal approach now in Des Plaines, Conlan said.

As news boxes increase in number, Conlan said in a memo, they "are the stuff of science-fiction movies, not good urban design."

In the coming months, city planners will look at a new streetscape plan, which will include options for controlling and upgrading news boxes.

Talk becomes personal: City council talk on red light cameras carried the emotional tinge of a personal loss last week in Des Plaines.

Fourth Ward Alderman Jean Higgason invoked the memory of her late husband, Dale, who was killed in a car crash in Lake Tahoe, Nev., in 1996.

As she spoke of her support for the posting of cameras designed to nab drivers running red lights, Higgason's comments veered into a personal reflection.

It was a touching moment not usually found at a mundane city council meeting.

She sees the cameras as a way to improve traffic safety, and spoke of the pain it could save a family from the loss of a loved one in a senseless car crash.

"If it saved one family member from being killed by a car crash, we couldn't be happier," Higgason said.

Aldermen gave Police Chief James Prandini the OK to look into securing a vendor and check into which intersections would benefit from the cameras.

Des Plaines would join neighboring Rosemont and Elk Grove Village in opting to post the cameras.

Celebrating cultures: Elk Grove Park District and the Community Character Coalition of Elk Grove Village are hosting the second annual Celebration of Cultures on April 26.

The event from 1 to 4 p.m. will be held at the Elk Grove Park District Pavilion, 1000 Wellington Ave. This is a free event open to the public.

Participants will perform songs and dances, conduct crafts, show artwork and present games from their traditional background.

This event promises to be a celebration of cultures, educating and bringing a better understanding and appreciation of many nationalities.

There will be samples of candy and cookies.

For more information, call (847) 690-1184.

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