LINCOLN SQUARE — Lincoln Square residents will see upgraded infrastructure, beautification and security cameras in the area following an annual vote on how to spend city money for the ward.
Each year, the 50 wards get $1.5 million each from the city’s budget for special projects and repairs. Since 2020, the 40th Ward has allowed neighbors to vote on how that money is spent using participatory budgeting.
The majority of more than 2,100 neighbors who voted wanted $500,000 set aside for infrastructure repairs and paving across the ward, Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) said.
The next most popular item was $50,000 for 95 new trees to be planted across the ward.
Vasquez spoke to the city’s bureau of forestry about the trees and was told Mayor Lori Lightfoot plans to have 75,000 new trees across the city over the next five years. If that comes to fruition, the ward money might be able to be freed for another use, Vasquez said.
“We want everyone in the 40th Ward that wants a tree to get one and so our ward office will put out a form where neighbors can put a request,” Vasquez said. “But between now and when that’s live we highly recommend neighbors to fill out 311 requests for the trees.”
The third request was $165,000 for the installation of six police observation cameras in response to concerns about crime.
These cameras will be installed on arterial streets that lack good police surveillance based on conversations the ward has had with the local districts, Vasquez said.
Other items on residents’ wish list will require more planning, Vasquez said.
Neighbors wanted $75,000 for new bike lanes on Granville Avenue between Western Avenue and Clark Street. But those plans are being reevaluated after getting feedback from nearby residents, Vasquez said.
“We’re not saying no to this but we’re putting this on hold in order to have a conversation with neighbors in the area to identify the best way to have traffic calming measures for cyclists,” he said. “Because that street is already seen as a bike path through the city.”
Neighbors also want to set aside $275,000 for an additional green alley in the ward. These types of alleys use permeable pavement to allow water to more easily filter through the street and drain into the ground, among other things.
The cost to install a green alley on just one block of a residential street can cost about $250,000, Vasquez said.
Because of that Vasquez said his staffers will evaluate which alleys in the ward are the “worst of the worst” and prioritize those as candidates for a green alley installation.
Other neighbor suggestions that made the cut include $50,000 for outdoor fitness equipment at Emerson Park and $75,000 for a new pedestrian refuge island at the intersection of Berwyn and Ashland.
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