Village Discusses Possible Downtown Enhancements

Village Discusses Possible Downtown Enhancements

Outdoor dining, exterior lighting, and public art are all ideas that Village trustees hope to use to enhance the ambiance of downtown Northbrook in 2022. At a recent meeting of the Ad Hoc Downtown Committee, trustees and staff shared ideas and set priorities for changes to be implemented in the coming year.

Village Manager Cara Pavlicek encouraged trustees to consider suggestions from a perspective of “placemaking” – creating destinations that attract the public to gather for shared experiences. That theme shaped the trustees’ discussion, with an emphasis on elements that would further the use of downtown for dining and special events.

Assistant Village Manager Madeline Farrell discussed options to support outdoor dining, expanding on strategies successfully launched in 2021. In particular, the Village will look to enhance the seasonal extension of pedestrian space on Shermer west of Meadow, using more attractive barriers and signage. Staff will also coordinate plans with area businesses allowing for significant lead time before the outdoor dining season.

Decorative lighting was cited as a top priority by several trustees, with a particular interest in Tivoli-style string lights to create a festive setting around the intersection of Shermer and Meadow Roads. Trustees also suggested ideas to improve the streetscape farther east on Shermer with lighting and planters. “I would like to be proactive to support outdoor eating at Leonidas, Little Louie’s, and Kamehachi,” stated Committee Chair Muriel Collison. “We should go to the businesses, see what they need and what we can do.”

Village President Kathryn Ciesla concurred that outdoor dining is top of mind for the community. “Wherever I go, people ask me about outdoor dining,” she noted. “The community likes it; let’s keep doing it.”

Outdoor murals or 3-D art installations may be pursued, creating landmarks that can serve as photo opportunities. Trustees plan to seek input from the Northbrook Arts Commission and Northbrook Historical Society to develop concepts. President Ciesla suggested the possibility of partnering with local businesses to fund projects.

Downtown events are also expected to return, based on the success of 2021’s Brewfest and Hot Cocoa Stroll. A springtime event is contemplated, with details to be determined. Once the weather warms up, trustees hope to expand community use of the “Pop-Up Patch” at Meadow and Cherry with the addition of new programs and outdoor games.

The Downtown Committee will meet again on Tuesday, February 9.  Feedback and ideas may be sent to Madeline Farrell, madeline.farrell@northbrook.il.us.

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