Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Updates downtown

It’s spring, and downtown is buzzing with work crews. You have to admit - things ARE getting better. Throughout downtown, crews are busy continuing to overhaul the landscaping. There are new trees, grasses, and shrubbery – and they’re in well-designed, attractive arrangements.

Sim’s Bowl has sprouted a “For Sale” sign, now that the city appears to be backing off its purchase.
The familiar “Acorn” streetlights that have been downtown for about 15 years now have almost all vanished, in anticipation of the new streetlights. I am hopeful that this means the new streetlights are better-designed.; it would be disappointing if the older ones were refurbished.

Metra Dry Cleaners has moved from the building next to Sim’s into the C.W.M. Brown building at the northwest corner of Miner and Pearson.

An air conditioning unit has been installed in the train station, for commuter comfort. The Brasserie restaurant in the station unfortunately still has handmade paper signs.

The Masonic Temple building has received fresh white paint on its piers, instead of the differing, peeling colors that were there before, with a gray coat over the concrete base. The dry cleaners storefront has also been repainted gray from blue. It’s too bad they didn’t match the brick and concrete’s natural colors, but it’s a big improvement nonetheless. There is also a fresh coat of paint on the city-owned 1486 Miner building.

Most of the downtown traffic signals have been replaced with LED lights (I hope they have accounted for a way to keep them from getting snowed over – the old lights produced heat.) As part of this process, many of the crosswalk signals now have countdown timers, and the poles have been stripped down to bare metal instead of faded, peeling, and rusting yellow paint.

It is a great sign that we have several Aldermen and a mayor taking an active interest in our beautiful downtown. Not only Alderman Patti Haugeberg, 1st ward alderman, but also Bogusz and Mark Walsten. We are fortunate to have a leadership that cares about making things better. These little improvements add up; taking a walk through downtown is starting to feel significantly better. With the right plan, this direction can yield great results.

The Des Plaines Journal today features a photo of the old Prince Castle ice cream stand that was once at the northeast corner of Lee and Prairie, where the 701 Lee (First National) office building now stands.