Peotone: ‘It Will Be Beautiful’ — Downtown Streetscape plan a welcome update

Upland Design staff explained plans for the wide-ranging Downtown Streetscape plan.
Upland Design staff explained plans for the wide-ranging Downtown Streetscape plan.

By Karen Haave

A $3.5 million beautification project slated for Peotone’s downtown historic district is expected to get underway sometime this month, culminating four years of planning, revisions, talks and meetings.

Dubbed Downtown Streetscape, the project will be paid for with a $2.5 million grant from the State of Illinois, and additional money from the Business Development District Fund. The Business Development District Fund is supported by the extra 1 percent sales tax collected on most sales for improvements in business corridors.

The goal of the project is to refresh and improve the look of Peotone’s downtown area, while replacing the aging infrastructure of village streets, which officials say “hasn’t changed in 40 or 50 years.”

A complete renovation of streets, sidewalks and pedestrian areas are featured. New modern street lighting, benches, planters and an event space are planned to beautify the downtown neighborhood and attract new visitors to downtown businesses.

The design includes widened sidewalks, “to enhance both pedestrian and motorist experiences in a more attractive and walkable business district.”

There will be no one-way streets, according to the design shown during a recent open house at the Will County Fairgrounds Atrium. All streets will have two-way traffic.

The dedicated event space is earmarked for the intersection at Main and Second Street, an area that can be closed off for future festivals and/or other public events.

The Village’s Public Works Department will maintain the landscaping, and during the winter months, will remove snow from the downtown as they have in the past. Additional equipment will be purchased by the Village to more efficiently clear snow from any streetscape features.

Early on in the planning stages, village officials considered parallel parking for the area. But resident objections changed that plan, and all parking will be angled once the project is completed.

With the $700,000 Railroad Street parking lot completed in 2022, coupled with the current project, the village will have more paved and lighted parking areas throughout the downtown. However, a few parking spots on Main and Second Streets will be eliminated due to aesthetics in crosswalk areas, and space needed for handicapped parking, officials explained.

The Downtown Streetscape Project focuses on a four-block area, including Main Street from First Street to the railroad crossing, Second Street from Main Street to Crawford Street (two blocks) and North Street from Second Street to Railroad Street.

Peotone Village President Peter March noted during the open house that the investment in Peotone’s downtown aims to encourage new investment and to attract new businesses to fill any vacant spaces.

He said that business owners, like “the new coffee shop and the ice cream shop, have seen the potential in our downtown district and are interested in locating here. That’s kind of what inspired me to do this.”

March said resident reaction has been largely positive, because residents are happy to see some improvements and also because no taxpayers’ dollars are funding the project.

“We’re not raising taxes,” he pointed out. “I’m excited. We have been working on this, we started working on this four years ago.”

Peotone Chamber of Commerce President David Corradino was equally enthusiastic.

“This is very exciting for us,” he said. “I think it’s good for downtown Peotone and for the community as a whole. If it looks good, and it looks inviting, people will want to invest in Peotone.

“A lot of thought and time and effort went into this. I think it will be beautiful. It’s positive. It’s a positive move.”

Corradino also encouraged continued patronage of village businesses during the construction period.

“This is very important,” he emphasized. “We hope the people will support the businesses while the project is going on.”

Although no start date has been set yet, village officials said construction is expected to get underway sometime this month, and will be completed by the end of November, weather permitting.

March and Public Works Manager Bob Hennke both said they are optimistic that most streets and sidewalks will be completed before the end of November, barring unforeseen issues.

“With projects like this,” Hennke said, “you never know. Weather is always a factor.”

Once the project begins, the downtown area will be a construction zone with heavy equipment, noise, gravel and dust, officials said.

March said the village will do all it can to maintain maximum access for pedestrian traffic to support the downtown businesses, especially during the evenings and weekends.

Multiple parking areas are available within two blocks of the Streetscape area, he said, and the project contractor and engineer have been alerted that maintaining access to businesses is of “prime importance”.

He said that the village is committed to supporting the downtown businesses by helping to promote them throughout the project in the new E-newsletter and on its social media pages.

In addition to sharing information about their products and services, temporary access points to enter the businesses during construction will also be highlighted.

For more information, or questions about access to businesses during construction, email [email protected] or call the Peotone Village Hall at 708-258-3279.

Karen Haave is a freelance reporter. Photos by Karen Haave

Adam Otens of Robinson Engineering answered questions for residents during a recent public forum on plans for Peotone’s Downtown Streetscape.

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