Test Drive the 9 Mile Redesign at the Sherman Summer Pop-Up Park
By Sara E. Teller
THE SHERMAN SUMMER POP UP PARK, a “Tactical Urbanism” project, is a pilot concept designed to test upcoming changes to 9 Mile Road before they are fully implement-ed. The major goals of the 9 Mile re-design are to enhance safety, encourage healthy living, create a vibrant streetscape, facilitate a more integrated community culture, and increase Oak Park’s commercial presence. The proposed redesign will reduce the amount of lanes from the current four or five lanes down to just three, include a non-motorized path which will create a better sense of place along the corridor and spark economic development, and will include all of the following scheduled changes:
• Reallocate street space for other community-serving uses.
• Encourage biking with dedicated bike lanes.
• Integrate bike parking and bike storage to serve transit riders.
• Make crossing Nine Mile on foot and bike safe and convenient.
• Provide greater visibility and identity for commercial businesses.
• Create public gathering places.
• Create a heart for the Oak Park community.
Back in 2014, the City of Oak Park adopted a Strategic Economic Development Plan, which included a Streetscape Identity section, encouraging members of the city to design the commercial corridors to be walk-able retail destinations for residents. Streetscape elements define the street right-of-way as a public space that combines appealing landscaping, including greenery, with coordinated street furniture and lighting, comfort-able sidewalks, and bike lanes and storage. The permanent redesign will focus on improving upon all of these elements, as well as instituting changes to the current structures and scenery.
The redesign will also make turning simpler for drivers, decrease speed-ing and hopefully the number of accidents, make it safer for pedestrians to cross with lane reduction and make it easier for bikers to ride by creating a designated bike lane. By improving the infrastructure to facilitate walking and biking, Oak Park residents could also see health bene-fits associated with increased exercise as many choose to leave their vehicles behind. Oak Park businesses will benefit from increased foot traffic as shoppers become more inclined to visit local shops and restaurants once it is easier to walk about, and an overall inviting community ambiance will result, making Oak Park more appealing for residents and visitors alike. Long term benefits for residents in the adjacent communities will include reduced traffic and delays on Sherman Street, increased safety in the area, and increased home property values.
The Sherman Summer Pop Up Park project “allows the community to engage the residents and enable them to not only envision the change but be a part of it,” according to City Manager Erik Tungate. “The pocket park creates the vibrancy and streetscape setting that residents and visitors want,” adds Kimberly Marrone, Economic Development and Communications Director. It “allows us to test different activities and amenities at the site and get feedback from residents and visitors,” she says.
The community will be able to provide feedback to the city as permanent changes are being made, and helpful suggestions will be implemented. The city plans to host various events and activities throughout the summer at the Sherman Summer Pop Up Park so community members can check it out and test out the changes to come.