Highland Park residents seek sidewalk
Stonegate Drive resident Beverly Beck is among those urging the city of Highand Park to install a sidewalk on the west side of Green Bay Road in their neighborhood. | Geoff Scheerer~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 21, 2012 8:34AM
HIGHLAND PARK — Residents living near Stonegate Drive in Highland Park don’t know all the history behind the missing sidewalk that requires school children, pedestrians and bicyclists to walk on the grass along a busy stretch of Green Bay Road.
There’s a sidewalk on the east side of Green Bay Road. But on the west side of the thoroughfare, the pavement stops abruptly at Marion Avenue on the 100 block and doesn’t pick up again until just south of Charal Lane in the 200 block.
Stonegate Drive resident Edward Stein said the need for a sidewalk goes without saying, given the high volume of traffic during the Ravinia concert season.
“Several hours before the show starts at Ravinia to about an hour after, it’s the busiest place on the whole North Shore,” he contended.
“It is not even worthy of discussion as to whether there should be a sidewalk,” said Stein, who several weeks ago presented the Highland Park City Council with petitions urging the installation of a sidewalk. “The only discussion is, why isn’t there one, and why has it taken so long?”
City Engineer John Welch said the sidewalk has been tentatively included in the 2013 capital improvement plan.
“As of right now, it is anticipated the sidewalk at this location will be in the capital improvement program for next year’s construction season,” said Welch, noting a continuous sidewalk also is part of the Bike Walk 2030 Plan to make the city fully accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists over the next 20 years.
Stein believes some Green Bay Road residents have opposed the sidewalk in the past, thinking it would invite too many pedestrians and intrude on their privacy.
Beverly Beck, a 50-year resident of Highland Park and the mother of five, helped circulate the petitions and found widespread support.
“I have spoken with residents who live along the impacted areas,” said Beck. “Many of them are strongly supportive of this idea because they either have young children needing to cross the road, or because they did at one time and remember what a challenge that was.”
Beck said the sidewalk would allow children a safe walkway to a pedestrian stoplight at Marion Avenue, where they can push a button to halt traffic, giving themselves time to cross safely.
Beck believes the lack of a stoplight might have been less an issue when children from the neighborhood attended a school that did not require they cross Green Bay Road.
Beck said the sidewalk also would provide a safer route for the many area residents who walk to the Braeside Metra station east of Green Bay Road to catch a commuter train to work.
Welch said the city typically allocates about $100,000 for sidewalk improvements each year, including the repair and replacement of sidewalks that have cracked, crumbled or heaved.