CLARENDON HILLS – Since the latter part of 2013, the village of Clarendon Hills has been exploring how to increase safety for pedestrians, particularly when it comes to children walking to and from school.
The latest proposal, which was first discussed at Monday's village board meeting, introduced the idea of applying for a grant as part of the Safe Routes to School Program, which would go toward filling in the gaps in the sidewalk along Norfolk Avenue and adding a sidewalk on Oxford Avenue on the west side of the street adjacent to the golf course.
That project would cost about $200,000, but the village would get $160,000 in federal funds if the grant proposal is successful.
However, it may not be as easy as just applying for a grant and starting construction on a new sidewalk in the village.
“I think it's important to note though that there are some areas where it's easier to put in sidewalks than others, and there are times when people who are going to be living adjacent to these sidewalks don't want them, so it isn't solely just something that's going to be universally loved," said Village Manager Randy Recklaus.
Village Trustee Paul Flood said he anticipates residents may not like the look of a sidewalk installed along Oxford, but he was thinking of the proposal with the safety of the residents in mind. He said he often sees residents walking through the pavement along the avenue and would rather have them relocated to a sidewalk.
“Some folks enjoy the appearance of having an extended front yard, so to speak, by not having that walk there, and I think where that's most obvious is along Oxford," Flood said.
Village Trustee Edward Reid said he used to live on Oxford and wanted to try and get a sidewalk put in about 10 years ago, but it wasn't a popular opinion.
“I would say the sentiment on the block was against it," Reid said. "Most viewed it as their property and therefore they'd be losing their property.”
Part of the discussion for sidewalks arouse back in late September when a 17-year-old Clarendon Hills driver struck a 12-year-old Clarendon Hills Middle School student while turning left from southbound Middaugh Road onto eastbound Chicago Avenue. Since then, there's been an emphasis on improving safety in the village, something that Trustee Paul Pedersen has noticed a need for.
“I walk my dog on that street three days a week, from Naperville to Chicago, and it's kind of scary," Pedersen said. "But on the other hand, when I'm looking there, I'm thinking, boy if there were sidewalks here where would we put them?”
The process for the application requires a public notice be posted and public feedback will be sought from residents.
Recklaus said Monday at the meeting that he just wanted to introduce the proposal and see if it is something the village should continue pursuing.
"I'm not hearing anyone dead set on not continuing this conversation," Recklaus said.