As you know, we are in the initial planning stages of Compass Business Park, the majority of which would be located three quarters of a mile east of Route 53 and west of Cherry Hill Road between Manhattan and Hoff roads.
We’re here because the intermodals are here, and they’re not going away. Compass offers a smart, responsible way to meet the growing freight demands while bringing new controls over truck and commuter traffic. We have not yet filed an application with the Village of Elwood.
The project would be built out over a 10-year period, and we are committed to listening and working with our neighbors. Your input and ideas are important in helping us shape the plan before formally submitting a plan to the Village. This process will take time because we decided to do things differently.
1. We did our homework. We knew about the challenges that unplanned, haphazard development have caused in the past, resulting in unchecked truck traffic, congestion and unsafe roads. Given the scope of the proposed project, we are uniquely situated to address community concerns that can shape future land planning.
2. We developed initial concepts with the community in mind. We drafted a concept plan with a gateway bridge and closed loop that keeps trucks off local roads and contains them so they use recommended routes – away from neighborhood streets and Route 53.
3. We asked for the community’s feedback. We knew we didn’t have all the answers, so we held an open house to introduce our team to the community and gather input to help shape our project before finalizing any plans.
During the past several months, we’ve taken the time to meet with members of the community – having coffee in countless Elwood living rooms and kitchens, spending time at the Abraham Lincoln Cemetery with the families of fallen heroes, walking the paths of Midewin and downing many patty melts at the Silver Dollar.
More than anything, we wanted to understand the community by listening to you.
We also consulted with area economic experts and planners and we hired the same firms that created the Safe Roads Illinois campaign and studied the truck traffic impacts on local roads. We share and embrace the same tenets of safe, smart and sensible growth and keeping our communities and roads safe. We put people first.
What did we learn at the open house?
To be honest, we got an earful at the open house – both positive and negative. We heard a lot of constructive feedback from the 450 people who attended from across Will County. That input is essential in helping us develop a responsive plan. (If you missed the open house, all of the materials we presented are on our website at www.CBPark.com).
Our team had many good, constructive conversations. Here’s a summary of the feedback we heard.
- Existing and future employee traffic (8.7%)
- Closed loop recommendations (7.8%)
- Development standards (landscaping, noise, lighting, etc.) (7.8%)
- Benefits to the Village – What does Elwood get? (6.9%)
- Impact on residential home values (6.9%)
- Farm access (4.3%)
- Truck traffic on I-55 and I-80 (4.3%)
- Business opportunities (3.5%)
- Request for ongoing updates (3.5%)
- Request to sell large agricultural parcels in the vicinity (3.5%)
- Signal at Mississippi and 53 (2.6%)
- Request for traffic calming/barriers in Elwood (2.6%)
- When did the process start? (2.6%)
- Proper compensation for Village services (2.6%)
- Emergency access (2.6%)
- Environmental (2.6%)
Other Comments/Concerns (less than 2% of feedback):
- What property do we have?
- Utilization of alternative energy
- School expansion / funding
- Incentive structure for development
- Truck drivers don’t speak English
- Where will new residential be located?
- What are the benefits to the Village of Manhattan/ Manhattan Township
- Removal of signal at Ira Morgan
- Loss of farms
- Lost trucks
- Houbolt bridge impact on personal residence
- Request for better farm access to intermodals
Why don’t we have all of the details?
We understand that some were disappointed, expecting to hear very detailed answers. But the purpose of the open house was to hear what you had to say. This will enable us to address your concerns and provide additional ideas and answers that spell out direct benefits for the community, which will ultimately make our plan better.
For example, our closed loop will have barriers and other features to keep trucks in. We have general ideas, but we don’t know exactly what they will look like and where they will be. People had different ideas about how to do that. The same is true for employee traffic flow. We know we have many options, including the bridge that will take on existing CenterPoint employee traffic as well as Compass traffic. We will have several employee entrances, but where exactly they will be depends in part on your feedback.
We encourage you to review the frequently asked questions (FAQ) that we put together as part of our dialogue with the community. Again, this is a process that will take some time.
The Village is independently assessing the various aspects of the project. It has assembled a technical team to work through the many components a planned development like Compass Business Park entails, including financial, traffic and community benefits. We will continue to listen and work through the process to develop plans for eventual consideration by the Village Board.
In the meantime, we remain committed to listening to you and encourage further feedback. If you have any questions or would like to provide additional comments or suggestions, please visit www.cbpark.com or stop by the Village Hall to submit a questionnaire.
We look forward to continuing the conversation!