On occasion since I have been writing this column I have referred to having a conversation about our community – Evergreen Park. A number of you have engaged in conversation via Patch by sharing your comments. All of your feedback is appreciated, not only by me but by Evergreen Park Patch editor Renita Young and the rest of the Patch team.
Now, however, Patch is taking this conversation to a much more personal level. Patch is hosting a gathering at Jacob's Well Church Community, 3450 W. Maple St., Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. The goal is to get together and talk about this place we call home. Specifically we want to discuss development here – what's been done, what's being done and what we would like to see done.
Everyone is invited, including elected officials from the village, county and state levels; business owners and workers; and neighbors from Beverly surrounding neighborhoods and towns. Those of us who call Evergreen Park home have a vested interest in what happens here, but so do those who work here and pass through here on their way home. This is an opportunity for all of us to come together and discuss what we like about how Evergreen Park is changing, what we don't like and what we'd like to see going forward.
This is not a formal village board or zoning board meeting – no votes will be taken. But that does not mean that no action will come as a result of this meeting. We at Patch hope this is the beginning of a long-term process of Evergreen Parkers coming together and talking about Evergreen Park. That process could eventually lead to a new comprehensive plan governing future development. But any movement on that front would be in the future.
In the present, we want to begin the conversation by focusing on development. We're not going to change the plans to redevelop part of the old Evergreen Country Club property into a strip mall at this meeting. That project has been approved and if the economy holds up it will be built. But what we can do is talk about what we dislike about that project, what we like about it and what we can learn from it. And we can talk about The Plaza and what redevelopment there might look like, and 95th Street, and 87th Street, and Kedzie, and the downtown area. We can talk about Little Company of Mary's changing campus. We can talk about the mix of businesses we have in town, which ones we'd like to see more of and which ones we'd like to see fewer of. We can talk about how business districts and neighborhoods fit together, and whether some businesses are appropriate for neighborhoods. We can talk about housing – about teardowns and rebuilds and how scale and context matter in neighborhoods as much as they do in business districts.
In all likelihood, we will have only a couple of hours on Nov. 14 to get things started. This isn't a one-and-done event. We'll see how it goes and we will learn from it and apply what we learn to future meetings. We hope this will be the first of many such events going forward. So bear with us as we figure it out.
And please, come out if you can and help us figure it out by being part of the conversation. Evergreen Park is our town, and one important way we can all take ownership of it and influence how it turns out is to talk to one another about what's important to us. We're not all going to agree, and that's fine. But we can listen to one another – respectfully. Listening can lead to understanding. Understanding can lead to knowledge and knowledge informs action.