Greenway Edged Out in Little Village PB Election, But Could Still Happen

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A 22nd Ward resident votes in the PB election. Photo: Enlace

Earlier this week, I reported that the proposal for a north-south neighborhood greenway in Rogers Park was left off the 49th Ward participatory budgeting ballot, but that bike-priority route is still expected to become a reality. Similarly, 22nd Ward PB voters didn’t elect to fund a proposal for an east-west greenway in the Little Village neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean the idea is dead in the water.

Tuesday was the last day of voting in the 22nd Ward. All told, 631 people voted, with 29 ballots spoiled due to constituents marking too many items, for a total of 602 ballots counted, according to Alderman Ricardo Muñoz’s assistant Abdul Hassan. That’s one of the larger turnouts for a ward’s first PB election. “That speaks well of the community engagement in the neighborhood,” Hassan said. “Hopefully our positive experience will encourage other wards to try the PB process next year.”

The proposed Little Village greenway would have been built on a couplet of parallel, neighboring east-west streets, running 1.3 miles from Kedzie to Keeler. 28th Street runs westbound, while 30th Street is eastbound. Curiously, there’s no 29th Street between them.

The transportation committee for the PB process met with Chicago Department of Transportation staff to discuss the project. They came up with a total cost estimate of $750,000 for the greenway, including pavement markings and signs, plus traffic circles and bumpouts to discourage speeding by drivers, according to committee facilitator Genaro Escarzaga. The $150,000 cost for the greenway listed on the PB ballot would have covered the required 20 percent local match for a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant.

While the greenway proposal garnered 169 votes in the PB election, tying for 6th place, that wasn’t enough to secure the $150,000 in ward money. “There was a lot of support in the community for the greenways,” Hassan said. He added that it’s unfortunate the project wasn’t funded, because the ward would have used the money to leverage federal dollars. “So the greenway might have had more impact than some of the other proposals.”

Hassan said it’s possible the ward will pursue other funding sources for the local match. “It’s a project that many residents would like to see happen,” he said.

Constituents voted to earmark 40 percent of the $1 million PB budget on street repaving. They also opted to spend $16,000 for upgrades to streetlights and pedestrian lighting, $37,000 for speed humps on residential streets and in school zones, $250,000 for lighting in Piotrowski Park, $240,000 for sidewalk repairs, and $60,700 for viaduct murals. The greenway project tied for 6th place, along with a proposal to add decorative fixtures to street lamps to identify the neighborhood enclave known as “The Triangle.”

Hassan said Muñoz is happy with how the process turned out, and tentatively plans to hold another PB election next year. “It was a lot of work for us and Enlace,” the community development organization that helped facilitate, Hassan said. “Hopefully, next year we get some funding for some additional staff to help out.”

In other 22nd Ward biking news, this week CDOT crews have been upgrading existing conventional bike lanes to buffered lanes on 26th Street, from Pulaski to Kostner. Elsewhere in the city, buffered lanes are finished on Halsted, from 31st to 26th, and from 69th to Marquette, and almost complete on Augusta from Damen to Noble.