A proposal to relocate the Pace bus shelter on Miner Street drew criticism from a group of residents at a city council meeting on July 2. City council discussed moving the bus shelter, currently in the 1400 block of Miner Street, across the street from the Metra depot, about two blocks southeast to the northeast corner of Miner and Pearson streets.
The proposed location is in front of River Pointe Condominiums, which has buildings at 675 Pearson Street and 650 S. River Road. Many of the more than 55 residents that attended the meeting to voice their concerns live in River Pointe.
“There is no legitimate reason why the bus stop should be moved from downtown,” said Al Brown, a River Pointe resident. “You are going to put a bus barn in the middle of a residential section. This is a poorly thought-out idea.”
River Pointe Condominium Association's board sent a letter to the city outlining their concerns about the project, which included loud noise, pollution, aesthetics and security. A copy of the city’s responses is included in the meeting packet, available on the city’s website.
Tim Oakley, director of public works and engineering, said moving the bus shelter would clear congestion from sidewalks in front of downtown businesses and improve safety for pedestrians.
Oakley told aldermen the city addressed many of the residents’ concerns about the bus platform by adding a canopy to redirect exhaust from the buses and a fence to improve security.
The Public Works Department requested $29,900 to add it to the design work for a major downtown streetscaping project, according to city documents. Aldermen voted unanimously to postpone discussing the request until the next meeting on July 16.
Fourth Ward Alderman Dick Sayad said he thought many of the residents were concerned about change in general, which drew boos and heckles from residents in the crowd.
Other aldermen said a soundproofing wall, instead of a fence, would address security concerns and reduce noise. Oakley said that would dramatically increase the project cost.
If approved, the bus shelter would be an addition to the city’s Downtown Streetscape Master Plan, which includes improvements to streets, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping to occur in multiple stages throughout the Tax Increment Finance District 1 over several years.
City council voted, 6-2, to authorize the bidding process to begin for phase one of the project, estimated to cost $2.2 million according to city documents. Phase one will include Miner Street from Graceland Avenue to Pearson Street, and Lee Street from the north alley to Miner Street. Fifth Ward Alderman Jim Brookman and Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten voted against the bid authorization.
The project will be paid for with TIF 1 funds. A TIF district is created when a local government freezes the tax base on properties within a certain area. All new property taxes in that district, which are generated by an increase in property value since the year the TIF started, are put into a special fund established for redevelopment projects within the district
Angela Cygnar, a River Pointe resident, said she appreciated the city adding a canopy and fence to the plan to address their concerns.
“I’ll give it a chance,” Cygnar said.