View Poll #2 Summary

9 months ago

Results are in! Check out the findings of the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Poll #2...

Facts + Figures

Neighborhood Poll #2 was open for three weeks, going live on Monday, October 22nd, 2018 and closing the afternoon of Friday, November 16th, 2018. During that time, 695 participants (heck ya!!!) took the poll, voting on and sharing desired placemaking preferences, development ideals and suggested improvements for Lincoln Square’s Special Service Area (SSA) #21. Some comments pertained to locations outside of the project geography; please click here to view a map with the SSA boundaries highlighted. Not sure what an SSA is? Click here.

In addition to the sheer volume of participants, it is important to note that the poll received over 250 comments wherein participants added more detail about their response or a different answer altogether. For example, the first question that asked, “What type of placemaking would you like to see most?” received forty-six additional “other” responses. Comments ranged from traffic calming and addressing vacancies, to zoned parking for residents, a Lincoln Square hop-on hop-off trolley, making the 4700 Block of Lincoln Avenue pedestrian-only, and additional support for a dog park. Comment themes and details are addressed for each question in the summaries that follow.

Who came out to the polls?

The poll received responses from a wide range of ages (18 years to 66+ years) and neighborhood affiliations. From residents (80%) and property owners (38%), to visitors (37%) and employees (13%). The 9% of poll takers who marked “other” in regards to their connection to Lincoln Square, expanded on why they visit the neighborhood, noting (1) they live nearby; (2) children attend school in the neighborhood; (3) friends, spouses or family work or live nearby; (4) they volunteer at local events; (5) attend Old Town School of Music, (6) grew up in or use to live in Lincoln Square and return often, and (7) shop and dine regularly in the Square because they love it and want to support the businesses.

What type of placemaking would you like to see most?

With 501 votes “Landscaping, trees and community gardens” was the top ranked placemaking “want” noted by participants. “Enhanced pedestrian and bike access” (401 votes), “Public art throughout the neighborhood” (348 votes), and “General maintenance” (268 votes), i.e more trash bins and recycling stations were also highly ranked. With 146 votes each, a “Designated dog park” and “Parking spaces transformed into parklets and outdoor patios” tied as the 4th placemaking priority. Comments reiterated in the “other” category included:

  • Beautify area around the Brown Line Western Stop / transformation under the tracks
  • Relieve traffic congestion (add a northbound right turn lane on Western at Lawrence, BRT on Western, more bike lanes and bike parking, and traffic calming measures)
  • Create community event areas and gathering spaces (outdoor amphitheater, more greenspace, wildlife sanctuary, reinvent NE corner of Lawrence and Western, make the 4700 Block of Lincoln Avenue pedestrian only)
  • Perspectives on parking were varied (zone parking for residents, do not remove parking, more outdoor seating but do not remove parking)
  • Activate underutilized / vacant space and enhance pedestrian accommodations north of Lawrence, infuse with restaurants and expand neighborhood “feeling”

Other responses supported the existing poll categories:

  • Add a dog park (possible location could be the underused horseshoe pit in Welles park)
  • General Maintenance: Add trash bins, fill potholes, fix sidewalks, take care of parkway trees and lighting, apply green infrastructure practices
  • Add public art that calls out neighborhood history in key locations

Which site-specific improvements would you like to see most?

Poll participants felt equally passionate about wanting to “Mitigate the barrier-feel of Western Avenue” (485 votes) and “Enhance Western CTA Station plaza / ped underpass” (455 votes). “Enhancements to the plaza surrounding Lincoln’s statue” (341 votes) and creating a “Shared Street on Lincoln Avenue” (313 votes) were also highly ranked. A photograph of the existing shared streetscape on Argyle Street in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood was included in the poll to visually communicate how pedestrian flow can be enhanced alongside parking and traffic calming measures like bump outs, landscaping and rain gardens.

Comments reiterated in the “other” category included:

  • Reinvigorating Lincoln Avenue north of Lawrence, improve aesthetics, lighting, sidewalks
  • Enhance Rockwell Corridor
  • Continued support for the removal of traffic/cars in the ‘Square’; close the arch to cars
  • Local trolley to support shops and restaurants
  • Wayfinding measures to direct people to and from the main square
  • Reinvent public space and triangular landscape area around McDonalds
  • Transform Western Ave: BRT, art, more trees, landscaping (like at Irving Park), TODs

A bit about “Shared Streets” ...

A few poll participants wanted more information about shared streets... ask and you shall receive! A “Shared Street” is designed to prioritize walkability, calm traffic, provide more space for pedestrians and sidewalk cafes, support events and ultimately create a safer, more pleasant, more profitable business strip. As the name indicates, shared streets are designed to be shared by all users; pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists must coexist. Many Shared Streets also celebrate green infrastructure, accessibility, economic development, and encourage a sense of community. The Argyle Shared Street example shown below (Chicago’s first shared street!) demonstrates these factors; the street was raised, and curbs eliminated to create an open, plaza-like feel. During community events, Argyle Street is closed to traffic temporarily and the sidewalks and street function as a shared people place.

What types of public art would you like to see in Lincoln Square?

As identified in the photos below, innovative “Street Canopies” was clearly the top ranked art example, receiving a total of 348 votes. “Murals” ranked second with 230 votes, followed by “Usable” public art with 213 votes, and “Interactive” public art with 203 votes.

Comments reiterated in the “other” category included:

  • Public art under the tracks by the Western Station
  • Sculptures
  • More greenery
  • Community art with children and homeowners
  • Street paint because it’s not only visual but can further pedestrian safety, which is essential for our neighborhood businesses

When it comes to development, what would you like to see most?

Lincoln Square wants to see areas beyond Giddings Plaza rejuvenated and commercial development increased. Ranked as the top priority for development with 425 votes, the desire to improve the vitality of areas north of Lawrence Avenue and throughout the neighborhood in general were reiterated in comments. Specific locations include (1) Lawrence Avenue west of Western, (2) Western Avenue south of the CTA Station, (3) Western and Lincoln Avenue north of Lawrence, and (4) the Rockwell / Eastwood area.

In addition to ranking second among the development priorities with 296 votes, the desire for affordability (with the exception of 2 comments against such) was reiterated and supported many (many) times over in the comment section. There is a clear desire by poll participants to stop the conversion of existing 2-flats into single-family homes and luxury condos, and ensure affordable housing, rentals, and rents for businesses moving forward. Other ideas and comments on this thread included affordable housing and work spaces for artists and musicians, housing options in the $400k-700k range that can support a middle-class family, density near transit, senior housing and activity centers, and allowing accessory dwelling units like a small home office space in lieu of single-story garages off alleys.

Comments reiterated in the “other” category include,

  • Support / retain local businesses (shop small); ensure rising rents don’t push them out
  • Local stores are great, but a few chains would be welcome; Chipotle, Panera, Lululemon
  • Focus on and fill vacancies and empty storefronts
  • Varied comments on parking included (1) less parking and parking lots, more parkland, (2) nearby paid parking to support local businesses, and (3) residential permit parking
  • Indoor play area / Welles Park Building for year-round use by the community
  • Community gathering space with programs and local brews on tap (Brauhaus location)

What good is a poll if no one takes it?

Our thoughts exactly! In terms of marketing and understanding the avenues by which folks heard about the poll, 87% learned of it via an email notification and/or social media; another 4% came across it via the SSA website. Behold, the power of technology. The 11% or 76 participants who responded “Other”, relayed they had heard about the poll thanks to (1) Block Club Chicago, (2) Streetsblog (3) word of mouth and shares from fellow neighbors, residents, friends, wives and hubbies, (4) Alderman and Chamber emails, (5) Apple Fest, print marketing and banners, and the (6) Greater Rockwell Organization. Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word and generate awareness about the poll!!! Please keep sharing via the tools herein.

Stay tuned! Poll #3 is coming soon. Everyone have a happy and safe holiday... and happy new year!