Glencoe's Downtown TuneUp

Welcome to Glencoe's Downtown Tuneup, the project website and collaborative workspace for residents and stakeholders to interact, share ideas, and help make Downtown Glencoe even better.

Views and News from the Chairman | February 2016

“Don’t like the weather?… wait a minute.”

Yesterday we wore t-shirts and soaked up warm sunshine. Our dogs—mine included—were wild to be outside… and reluctant to go back indoors. Today… it’s grey. And chilly—to say the least.

We tolerate a certain amount of who-knows-what’s-next from our external environment. But in Glencoe, we are incredibly fortunate that this mostly concerns the weather. In other respects, we enjoy a stability, continuity, and consistency that are rare in today’s world.

And one of our bulwarks is our downtown—our commercial center in miniature.

It is small, but not simple. It is small, but not bland. It is small, but not featureless. Quite the contrary. Our central business district (to use the technical term) is economically complex, rich in character, and full of architectural and site features that make it memorable. And, what is even more remarkable is that this has been so for over a hundred years.

Glencoe was one of the first planned communities in Illinois, and our downtown was always envisioned as the beating heart of the Village.

A public space. A gathering spot. A place to shop. A place to greet neighbors, colleagues and friends. A special place. Which leads to an important question…

What has made our downtown so special for the past century? Many of the “why’s” emerged during the many months of discussion, reflection, data collection, study and historical analysis undertaken by the Glencoe Plan Commission in connection with the Glencoe Downtown TuneUp.

Here’s what we learned. What makes downtown Glencoe very special is:

Its intimate scale. Its “walkability”. The green canopy of trees, and parklands in and near downtown. The connectivity of the intersecting streets. The outstanding quality of downtown businesses. Its compact size and clear boundaries between downtown and adjacent residential areas.   

The cultural resources of an exceptional Library and theatre. The graceful architectural anchors of Library and Village Hall. The location and size of downtown as an economic “ecosystem”. The limited height and mass of structures, together with the scale and proportion of buildings and streets creating downtown’s “outdoor rooms”.

So…..what we discovered is that we treasure our downtown for very good reasons that we can now explain through qualitative and quantitative data.  And this information can help us safeguard the ecosystem of our downtown in the face of future uncertainties.

Because the future brings more than uncertain weather. It brings change.

Our challenge is to embrace the innovations which are needed to safeguard our traditions. To safeguard what has always been true about the Village, and what we will zealously protect. Our size and scale. Our Village character, reflected in the built environment. Our sense of community. Our standards for excellence.

And now… Tonight’s Plan Commission meeting marks its 96th anniversary year.

It is extraordinary that civic leaders committed themselves to planning for the future almost a hundred years ago. The original Commissioners represented public bodies such as the Park District and School District, just as they do today. It is also noteworthy a member of the Woman’s Club was included as a required Commissioner—in the very year that the US Congress first recognized a woman’s right to vote. The newly formed Plan Commission of 1920 was an innovative public body.

This month, we will innovate again.

At tonight’s meeting celebrating this anniversary, Village staff will present a ‘discussion draft’ of revised Chapter 10 (Downtown Sub Area) of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan. It can be found here, on the documents page of the TuneUp website and app — or for you readers, a download link is at the end of this message.

The draft is exactly what its title states. It is intended to stimulate discussion in the community. It is full of ideas and possibilities which reflect the meticulous and painstaking (if not speedy) work of the Commission in considering and studying appropriate updating of the current version of Chapter 10, originally drafted in 1996 and revised in 2004 (though minus graphics).

The new discussion draft reflects your ideas from the “Candy Chang” wall, your feedback on the website, the input from panelists and guests and interested individuals at Commission meetings, and the work of consultants. It is food for thought, and thoughtful discussion.

Because the bottom line is this: We hope you will continue to share your views with us.

Join us in person at an open house (to be announced on the website soon)….or online….or by snail mail. And join us in celebrating Glencoe’s exceptional history of thoughtful planning.

We owe deep thanks to the incredible researchers at our own Glencoe Historical Society who have taught us about our rich tradition of planning innovations. This legacy guides our work. Together we will talk about the innovations and features we need for the future, in order to….well, in order to not change. A paradox? Not really. We joke that the Village motto is “progress without change”. In reality, it should be “innovation that serves tradition”. The TuneUp theme of “Tradition + Innovation” proved more accurate than we ever guessed.

Now… your thoughts about the innovations we need, in order to safeguard the traditions we want to keep, are of importance to the professional staff, and the volunteer Plan Commissioners, who serve the entire Village.

We thank you, as always, for your devotion to our community.

– Caren Thomas, Chairman of the Village of Glencoe Plan Commission

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This entry was posted on February 24, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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Taylor Baxter, AICP

Development Services Manager

675 Village Court
Glencoe, IL 60022