Busy Times in Glencoe
By Village Manager Phil Kiraly
First, let me start with a quick apology…it’s been a while since my last Village Manager’s Blog post.
Since then, a lot has changed, and there’s been a lot of great activity throughout Glencoe. Since my last blog, summer kicked off, many COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and our kids concluded a school year like none other. We have a new Village President and Board of Trustees (and have returned to in-person meetings) and a hot residential housing market; our community feels as active as ever.
A lot of that activity has centered on our downtown central business district as our shops, salons and restaurants see customers return. Downtown Glencoe is probably the most vibrant that it has been in a long time; with that vibrancy comes some questions about the future and sometimes concerns about what’s changing.
As I have written in my previous blogs, the Village took some extraordinary measures during the pandemic to prop up our business community, including allowing more outdoor dining and accommodating things like curbside pickup spaces. While the pandemic unfortunately isn’t yet over, we are looking to the future and dialoguing about which of those changes, if any, should stay in place. The Village has received a lot of feedback in favor of maintaining some of the changes (like accommodating additional seating on sidewalks and in Vernon Avenue parking spaces), as well as feedback in favor of phasing the changes out and returning to pre-pandemic policies.
One of the Village’s ongoing areas of focus is the perennial issue of parking in and around downtown, especially now, as so many people are out enjoying all that our downtown has to offer. The Village Board has already had two dynamic discussions about this during their March and June Committee of the Whole meetings, and staff is busy working on recommendations that we expect to present to the Board at the August 19 Committee of the Whole meeting. Information about future parking options and possible ways to accommodate outdoor dining will be part of that meeting’s agenda, which will be posted on the Village’s website by Friday, August 13.
We are doing our homework as we prepare for this presentation. We’ve received a lot of feedback from our community thanks to two surveys that went out earlier this month. One survey utilized the Village’s FlashVote platform and received feedback from 289 residents. The results are available here, and I encourage you to review them. To engage with more members of our community, we issued the same survey through the Village’s website and collected more than 300 additional responses. We also shared a survey with our downtown business community so that we could gather their valuable input. Last, thanks to the Village’s new downtown parking management system, we have been able to glean helpful data on the types of parking violations that are issued and how those impact our overall parking environment in downtown Glencoe. We will summarize this data for the Board on August 19. We really appreciate those that took the time to share their input.
Data is helpful and tells interesting stories. A few takeaways already show that we’re seeing more parking demand midday and finding that some of our downtown business employees do not park in their designated areas. We’ve also learned that many in our community do not know that parking in our train station commuter lots is free for everyone after 10 a.m. everyday. We are working to better communicate that information to the public because over 1,100 parking spaces are available to serve the downtown. Many often only focus on parking that’s available on or immediately adjacent to Park and Vernon Avenues. There’s a lot more parking in our downtown that’s available and closer than it may seem. If you’d like to see this visually, look at this great story map on the Village’s website that tells our parking story pretty effectively.
This is not to say that there are no problems we need to address with parking and that outdoor dining hasn’t caused some issues. We know that issues exist, and we are looking forward to discussing possible solutions with the Village Board in August. If you have insights you would like to share with us, please contact Jordan Lester or Emily Spangler in my office.
For now, please continue to enjoy the summer months, and please continue to stay vigilant regarding COVID-19. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to continuing to see you all out and about in our great community.