CMAP to assist dozens of communities with long-term planning projects, public space innovations

More than 20 communities with high needs will receive new planning assistance from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to help them prosper in the years ahead.

The selected planning projects span northeastern Illinois, from Waukegan in northern Lake County to Robbins in southern Cook County. Through our Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program, CMAP staff will work with the communities to build their local capacity, implement long-range plans, identify grant opportunities, develop capital improvement programs and address safety improvements.

“Now more than ever, places with limited resources need planning assistance,” CMAP Executive Director Erin Aleman said. “The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has a long history of helping communities better prepare for their futures. We look forward to building a stronger region where all communities can thrive.”

A person riding a bicycle along a path in a park, with a Berkeley water tower in the background.

For the project in Robbins, CMAP staff will work with local officials to implement past planning recommendations to address flooding issues in a way that spurs economic development and creates new opportunities for recreation.

A separate project in Bellwood will assist local officials with safety improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians who cross 25th Avenue. A new bridge on the north side of Bellwood has increased truck traffic in the area, creating a threat to bicyclists and pedestrians who use the unimproved Illinois Prairie Path along 25th Avenue, just north of South Maywood Drive.

A group of communities also will learn more about the creative uses for public spaces that have developed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. CMAP will collaborate with officials in Berkley, Harvey, Lemont and Morton Grove on this pilot project to develop public space innovations, such as open streets, outdoor dining in the public right of way and pop-up markets.

CMAP selected 24 communities following a joint call for planning assistance with the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) earlier this year. To best address the region’s immediate needs, CMAP and the RTA prioritized high-need municipalities based on factors such as population, income and tax base per capita. The pandemic has strained municipal capacity like never before while declining revenues are making it difficult for communities to plan for 2021 and beyond.

Selected communities will receive planning assistance for free. The capacity-building programs being offered are made possible with support from the MacArthur Foundation.

The communities receiving planning assistance are:

  1. Bellwood
  2. Berkley
  3. Berwyn
  4. Burlington
  5. Calumet City
  6. Calumet Park
  7. Chicago Heights
  8. Dolton
  9. Harvard
  10. Harvey
  11. Lake County Land Bank Authority
  12. Lansing
  13. Lemont
  14. Lynwood
  15. Marengo
  16. Matteson
  17. Morton Grove
  18. Riverdale
  19. Robbins
  20. Steger
  21. Summit
  22. Thornton
  23. University Park
  24. Waukegan

CMAP’s LTA program aligns with ON TO 2050, the region’s long-range plan, by focusing on inclusive growth. Since 2012, the program has assisted communities — often with limited capacity and resources — in developing more than 200 planning projects.