At the Jan. 24 Planning and Development Committee meeting, aldermen folded a discussion of the location of a new civic center into their approval of parks and amenities, the final aspects of the downtown plan. Using a six-page memo created by Sixth Ward Alderman Edmund Moran, who chairs the committee, aldermen approved the concepts of expanding existing parks, such as Oldberg and Raymond, and creating new parks or open spaces – using, for example, the City-owned parking lot on Chicago Avenue behind the main library. Raymond Park is already scheduled for some renovation: An anonymous gift to the City will pay for the public art piece (and the installation) of “Conversations” by Indira Johnson.
The Civic Center question on Ald. Moran’s memo was whether a new Civic Center should be built in the downtown area. Aldermen have been somewhat divided on whether to rehab or sell the Civic Center property at 2100 Ridge Ave., and the division was evident in their debate. Returning to the premise that the downtown plan is an advisory rather than a mandatory document and that it is not meant to bind future City Councils, the aldermen did not answer the question but agreed that it should be considered by future City Councils.
There was unanimous agreement on the remainder of the Plan Commission’s recommendation – that wayfaring signs, a downtown circulator, public art and a bicycle system should be part of the plan.
The aldermen agreed to ask the consultants to bring a revised and red-lined plan (to indicate revisions, such as the added height and downtown core approved earlier) to the Feb. 9 Planning and Development Committee.
They said they hoped to obtain committee approval at that meeting, recommending it to City Council. If so, the plan would be a special order of business on the agenda, so Council would suspend the rules (which requires two weeks between introduction and final vote) and vote on the plan at the Feb. 9 City Council meeting.