Let’s Celebrate the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan

Published February 23, 2021

The McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan is set to be a transformational guide for the McKinley Park neighborhood of Chicago. The first of its kind, our neighborhood plan is the result of years of effort and engagement from residents, businesses, elected officials and institutions, led by the McKinley Park Development Council as a project of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan Cover2The cover date of the original neighborhood plan document was fixed after the McKinley Park News alerted CMAP.I remember the first council board meetings when the plan was brought up, and the excitement when our all-volunteer group actually landed the project. CMAP was a wonderful partner in both providing a structure and process toward creating a neighborhood plan, and doing so much of the heavy lifting of organizing meetings, collecting data and authoring the plan (plus the McKinley Park Existing Conditions Report that preceded it).

What we now have is a comprehensive, collaborative, canonical plan to address the issues facing the McKinley Park neighborhood and provide guidance for future development and growth. Although the neighborhood plan has no legal force, it is the only document of its kind and, given its thoughtful development and government-issued pedigree, should be viewed as authoritative.

It certainly has already been influential, as seen in the Feb. 10, 2021, 12th Ward meeting on the proposed Dunkin’ drive-through at Archer and Leavitt, with Alderman George Cardenas referring to the plan’s proposal for equitable transit-oriented development (eTOD) at that location instead.

Read the Neighborhood Plan Online

McKinley Park Development Council CMAP business focus group 20180919A McKinley Park News photo from the CMAP business focus group in September 2018 helps illustrate the business outreach page of the existing conditions report.Through the work of the McKinley Park News, you can now read the entire McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan and McKinley Park Existing Conditions Report online. CMAP’s version is only available in print-centric PDF format; our online edition makes the plan accessible, especially for those who rely on mobile devices.

Our work bringing the neighborhood plan online not only involved web-optimizing all content; we also worked hard to explode the plan into a hypertext, making it easy to navigate and jump to any part of the plan with a few clicks (or read page-by-page if you prefer).

When relevant, we peppered in — and so noted — photos from our neighborhood news coverage. Our reporting on plan development, linked up on the main neighborhood plan page, is a unique “behind-the-scenes” look at what went into building the plan.

McKinley Park Development Council meeting 20180718 table group leadParticipants discuss their ideas in the neighborhood plan kickoff workshop on July 18, 2018.In the course of production, we started noticing (and fixing) typos and some occasional errors in the plan and report: CMAP actually released an updated and corrected version of their PDF document after we corresponded about what we found. We’ve fixed other discovered issues in our edition of the neighborhood plan and existing conditions report, and will continue to do so. (If you spot a typo, we will give you a free subscription! See below.)

As we related to CMAP and the McKinley Park Development Council, our edition of the neighborhood plan will remain online perpetually as a neighborhood resource, accessible for free with no login required. Web page URLs for the plan should not change, and https://mckinleypark.news/neighborhoodplan will always land on the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan’s home page.

What’s In the Plan

McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan Western Avenue Pershing Road intersectionAn Illustration from the Western Boulevard page of the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan presents ideas for reconfiguring Western Avenue/Boulevard and Pershing Road.If you have any connection to or interest in McKinley Park, you should take the time to engage with the neighborhood plan. It’s a massive document, but you can easily dip into any section you wish and return later for more.

Most of the plan revolves around defining and reaching six core goals identified by the community, from preserving neighborhood diversity to modernizing the Central Manufacturing District. Much focus centers on maintaining the housing stock and affordability that McKinley Park enjoys, as well as things like turning 35th Street into a "Main Street" for the neighborhood.

An Implementation Matrix for the neighborhood plan provides a massive hit list of specific projects and programs that address every main goal and specific objective of the plan. The Implementation Matrix comprises a To Do list for the McKinley Park Development Council (and neighborhood) to realize the plan and bring its benefits to the community.

Based on Existing Conditions

McKinley Park Existing Conditions Report Existing Land Use 2013The map on the McKinley Park Land Use page of the existing conditions report shows all the zoning districts of the neighborhood.The McKinley Park Existing Conditions Report, issued in May 2019, provides all the facts and data – plus information on surveyed community sentiment – that formed the basis for the neighborhood plan. It is a treasure trove of McKinley Park information collected from many qualified sources, filtered and analyzed specifically for the neighborhood.

Would you like to know about McKinley Park’s demographic makeup? How about what’s allowed to be built in our neighborhood’s industrial areas? Or maybe you want information on your home’s risk of flooding? Check the existing conditions report.

The existing conditions report also details much of the outreach that went into creating the neighborhood plan, including an online survey, a public kickoff meeting, a business focus group, listening meetings and more.

Project Deficits

McKinley Park Existing Conditions Report Metroquest participant survey screenshotA chart from the MetroQuest Online Survey page of the existing conditions report breaks down the demographics of survey respondents.Although the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan is a fantastic and useful accomplishment, there may be room for improvement, especially in terms of making sure the entire community is engaged in neighborhood decision-making.

For example, thanks to statistics on community feedback as detailed for the online survey and for the kickoff meeting, we know that fewer youth and Asian-Americans participated in creating the neighborhood plan than are present in the neighborhood. (More women did than men, too.)

I wouldn’t say that this is due to lack of effort from CMAP or project volunteers, as so much outreach was conducted during plan development, and tons of work went into making sure that all materials and meetings were available in English, Spanish and Chinese languages. Youth and Asian-American cadres are sometimes difficult to engage in civic action, but their significant presence in the McKinley Park neighborhood means they should be. 

Another current deficit is the lack of Spanish and Chinese language translations for the neighborhood plan and existing conditions report. Although all three languages were supported for the executive summary of the existing conditions report, proper translations for the full documents would go a long way to support multicultural engagement in realizing the plan.

Find a Typo, Get a Subscription

McKinley Park Existing Conditions Report Proposed Mixed Use Development Bubbly CreekA rendering from Great Rivers Chicago shows a proposed mixed-use development on Bubbly Creek on the Chicago River page of the existing conditions report.To help continue to improve the plan, we are offering a free annual Subscription to the McKinley Park News for any member who finds a typo or error in our editions of the neighborhood plan and existing conditions report. Here’s how it works:

  1. Find a typo or error in any of the document pages of the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan or the McKinley Park Existing Conditions Report.
  2. Post a comment to that page detailing the error and where it is located. (All website members can post comments. Don’t have an account? Click here to register for a Free Membership.)
    Qualifying errors include misspellings, grammatical errors, factual errors in content and labeling/reference errors in the documents, each type of which we’ve discovered so far (and corrected).
  3. All comments are moderated and timestamped, and I will be reviewing and approving comments as they come in. Only the first comment posted for a specific error will award a Subscription for that error.
  4. Errors discovered via comments will be swiftly fixed, and I’ll note this (and that the comment won) with a reply to that comment.
  5. Winners will receive information on upgrading their accounts via their direct message inbox.

McKinley Park Existing Conditions Report Retail Gap Analysis screenshotRetail gap analysis surplus and leakage for McKinley Park versus nearby areas is shared on the retail market trade area page of the existing conditions report.Note that only one complimentary annual Subscription will be awarded per member or individual, and this offer has zero cash or other value.

Now I consider myself a halfway decent copy editor, and as there might be no errors left in our editions😁, I’ll also offer a free annual Subscription to each member who finds and first comments on:

  • Every mention and/or depiction of Huck Finn Donuts.
  • According to the posted stats, which neighborhood’s residents make more money, on average: McKinley Park or Bridgeport?
  • Yours truly (me) as depicted somewhere within the CMAP documents.

Get Involved Now

McKinley Park Existing Conditions Report Residents Commute Mode ShareA chart on the transportation page of the existing conditions report shows the commuting methods of McKinley Park residents.Like creating the plan itself, realizing its objectives will take the work of the entire neighborhood, led by the McKinley Park Development Council. They’ve already started by focusing on a single identified plan goal for each monthly meeting to determine community priorities for implementing the neighborhood plan.

At 7 p.m. this Wednesday, February 24, 2021, the group will host its McKinley Park Development Council Meeting, including a look at the neighborhood plan goal to Promote Equitable Transit-Oriented Development. Attend this meeting or connect with the council later to discover how you can help bring the McKinley Park Neighborhood Plan to life.

Justin Kerr
Publisher, McKinley Park News 

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