Additional Metra parking in Barrington tied to church construction plan

 
 
Updated 12/3/2018 4:51 PM
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  • This is the parking lot behind First Church of Christ, Scientist on Main Street in Barrington north of the village's Metra station. Barrington plans to expand the Metra commuter rail parking through buying the church's lot, provided it gains approval for a building project.

      This is the parking lot behind First Church of Christ, Scientist on Main Street in Barrington north of the village's Metra station. Barrington plans to expand the Metra commuter rail parking through buying the church's lot, provided it gains approval for a building project. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • First Church of Christ, Scientist in Barrington borders the village's Metra parking lot. Barrington plans to expand the Metra commuter rail parking through buying the church's lot, provided it gains approval for a building project.

      First Church of Christ, Scientist in Barrington borders the village's Metra parking lot. Barrington plans to expand the Metra commuter rail parking through buying the church's lot, provided it gains approval for a building project. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

Barrington plans to expand its Metra commuter rail parking, provided a church near the village train station gains approval for a building project.

Village board members agreed in the summer to pay $625,000 for First Church of Christ, Scientist's lot just north of existing Metra parking. Under a recently approved contract amendment, the village and church have until March 30 to close on the tentative deal.

Money from the village's parking fund would cover the purchase, officials said.

Barrington Village Manager Jeff Lawler said the plan is to reconfigure the current church lot to have the extra parking for the train station users. He said pavement repairs and other work would be necessary for the church lot to become permanent Metra parking.

"There's some lights in the parking lot that we want to relocate," Lawler said. "They have to be connected to our electric source, because right now they are connected to the church's electric source. And then we want to re-stripe it, because once the lights are moved in the parking lot, we can pick up an additional 15 to 20 parking spaces."

Lawler said the work would result in about 80 more spaces for the Metra commuters. Barrington has roughly 900 spaces in the train depot's north and south lots.

However, the tentative $625,000 deal for the lot calls for the March 30 closing deadline because it is contingent on the church gaining village approval to remove part of the current building, then constructing a new section in its place for services, officials said.

First Church of Christ's proposal will go through the advisory architectural review and plan commissions before reaching the village board for final consideration, possibly in February. Under a tentative timeline, the advisory commissions would address the church plan in January, documents show.

Barrington would allow free Sunday parking for those attending services at First Church of Christ, Scientist. Lawler said it's hoped the additional commuter parking would be ready in the spring if the church's construction plan is approved and the purchase becomes final.

Metra parking is an issue in Barrington, which draws train riders from nearby towns. Officials said some residents have been complaining about being unable to find daily parking spaces at the Metra station because they are occupied with vehicles from other towns.

Last month, Barrington voters weighed in on an advisory referendum question that asked if residents should receive preferred commuter parking. The tally was 3,682, or 77 percent, in favor and 1,148, or 23 percent, against.

Village officials said the advisory question was a way to receive feedback on the commuter parking issue.

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