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Plentiful Parks in Elmhurst, Few "Park Deserts"

by Thomas Makinney


This time of year it’s hard not to notice all of Elmhurst’s beautiful parks. Whether you’re walking, biking, jogging, watching a game, or just relaxing, parks are a prominent part of living in Elmhurst. 

There are 23 parks in Elmhurst with 327 total acreage for people to enjoy, which is well above the national average. In fact, 83 percent of our residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park compared with the national average of 55%.

The city is flanked by Eldridge Park in the south and Berens Park in the north with prominent Wilder Park in the center. We have running trails and bike paths, creeks and fountains, and miles of fields for every kind of sport. 

Having easy access to parks is not only fun but is linked with lower body mass index and reduced rate of obesity. And children’s use of parks increases by a whopping 400% when parks are closer to home.

The Trust for Public Land released data recently analyzing Americans current access to parks in cities, towns, and communities.  They found that one in three Americans don’t have a park or green space within a 10-minute walk of their home. Elmhurst residents fare much better, but 8,305 still live in a “park desert.”

To get a better idea of which neighborhoods fare on the better or worse end of the scale, the organization put together this map. By scrolling down to the button labeled “Deep Dive,” you can zoom in on neighborhoods.  The best locations for new park development are indicated by the blue-circled numbers, which are then ranked by the impact a park would make on a neighborhood.

The Trust mapped every park in every urban municipality in the country, the first time such extensive park data has been compiled in such a way. Their hope is that city planners, mayors, and recreation departments will use the tool to ensure better access to parks and continue to make green space a priority in the future.

Elmhurst’s beautiful and abundant parks are part of the city’s charm. We love the priority our city places in parks, and we’re confident that that consideration will continue.

To find out more about our (23!) parks and other amazing benefits of living in Elmhurst, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit www.gmregroup.com.

D205 Looks to the Future with Master Facility Plan

by Thomas Makinney


To best anticipate upcoming needs, District 205 is creating a Master Facility Plan (MFP) to focus on educational needs—such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs, all-day kindergarten, and future-ready learning—as well as maintenance and facility needs (such as at Lincoln and Field schools) and possible re-districting.

 
The plan is a continuation of Focus 205, a 2015 collaboration between the community and the district. The board of education hopes that developing a master plan will provide a map for ensuring commitment to future-ready learning, equal access to technology, and equitable learning spaces in all schools.
 
Planners divided the facility improvement suggestions into four categories: two supporting basic maintenance needs and two featuring modifications/improvements needed for all-day kindergarten and to create future-ready learning spaces. There are a total of eight proposed scenarios.
 
The board previewed the presentation at its May 8 meeting and will be sharing the MFP draft with the community at a series of meetings to get input and hear feedback.
 
All meetings will cover the same content. Two meetings were held earlier in the week at York High School and Churchville Middle Schools. Upcoming meetings include:
  • Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 7 – 9 PM, Bryan Middle School
  • Wednesday, May 30, 2018, 7 – 9 PM, Sandburg Middle School
 
School-specific informational sessions will also be held. Jefferson, Fischer, Churchville, Hawthorne, and Jackson have held theirs already. The following are still on the calendar:
  • Wednesday, May 16, Jackson - 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday, May 23, Bryan 6:15 PM
  • Thursday, May 24, Emerson - 8:30 AM vio
  • Wednesday, May 30 Sandburg 6:15 PM
 
Residents of Elmhurst are encouraged to attend and learn about our schools’ future plans. Having strong schools is a hallmark of our community, and we are so proud of the continuing commitment to excellence.

For more information about living in Elmhurst, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com.

Elmhurst Presents Subarea Plans to Residents

by Thomas Makinney

Do you know what Elmhurst’s subareas are? Do you have an opinion on how to improve and/or preserve them?
 
Plans for five business zones in Elmhurst, dubbed “subareas,” were presented at an open house last week, and they are impressive. Elmhurst planners, consultants, and residents have been working for a year to brainstorm and draft proposals for the zones, analyzing their strengths and challenges regarding transportation, infrastructure, character, land use, and a sense of place. Planners will then draw up a set of goals for each area so private and public-sector improvements can take advantage of assets.
 
The subareas being evaluated include:
·      Lake Street, west of York Street
·      The intersection of North Ave. and Route 83
·      The block northwest of the intersection of First and York streets
·      The blocks surrounding York and Valette streets
·      The district bounded by Butterfield Road, Roosevelt Road, and York Street
 
To read about and visualize some of the recommendations and suggestions, visit https://www.elmhurst.org/1555/Elmhurst-Subarea-Plans and read the draft plan. Comments will be reviewed through May 18.
 
You can also visit https://map.social/Community.php?CommunityID=121 and add comments. The map graphically shows which areas are considered community assets and which ones residents/planners feel have safety hazards or room for development.
 
 
Community outreach has been an important part of the process and there has been extensive outreach to the public to drive vision and policy recommendations.
 
The process has been long and ongoing. Planning began a year ago with an anticipated completion date in 2018. Final plans will be approved by the Zoning and Planning Commission and City Council.
 
We love how Elmhurst is constantly striving to improve itself and how residents are included in the decision making. To find out more about what makes our city such a great place to live, call us at (630-441-5570 or visit our website www.gmregroup.com.
 

York Athletic Director Named Illinois Athletic Director of the Year

by Thomas Makinney


York High School has a reputation not only for academic excellence but athletic excellence as well. And the Illinois Athletic Directors Association agrees, naming Athletic Director and Assistant Principal for Athletics Rob Wagner as its Class 3A and 4A Division 3 Athletic Director of the Year. He will receive the award and recognition at the IADA State Conference on Saturday, May 5 in East Peoria.

As athletic director, Wagner oversees the athletic programs at York, working closely with the coaches and overseeing financial, practical, and legal matters relating to the school’s teams as well as ensuring that athletes adhere to ethical standards.

Wagner has been at York High School for 15 years and is a familiar face to many, having served in a variety of roles during his tenure. He has been the athletic director for eight years. His other positions at the school include: assistant principal for finance and student activities (2011-2014), assistant principal for student services (2009-2011), and dean of students (2002-2005). He has served as assistant principal for athletics since 2014 and served a prior term as athletic director (2005-2009). He has also been a football and track coach at York.

Congratulations to Rob and to all the staff, coaches, and students at York who make awards and accolades like this possible! We’re proud of the amazing educational and athletic resources in our city.

To find out more, call us at (630) 441-5570 or reach out anytime through our website www.gmregroup.com.

York AS.IS. Club to Celebrate A Night of Noise

by Thomas Makinney

It will be a night of acceptance and a celebration of diversity on April 27 when York High School’s AS.IS. club hosts A Night of Noise on April 27 at the high school.

AS.IS. stands for “accepting sexual orientation at school” and is the gay-straight alliance (GSA) at York. Their mission is to spread the message of acceptance through the school and community, working to build tolerance and respect, combat bigotry, and reduce homophobic behavior.

The group is open to all students and is comprised of like-minded individuals who want everyone to feel comfortable and included. The club has been active at York for 17 years.

Organizers have invited other gay-straight alliance clubs at nearby high schools to the evening’s festivities. Last year, participating high schools included Argo, Lyons Township, Leyden, and Glenbard West. More than 100 students turned up and attendance is expected to be larger this year.

The evening will include icebreaker activities, a photo booth, dancing, karaoke, and a speaker. The event is billed as an evening of “total acceptance,” something many students still find rare either in school, the community, or at home.

@Properties and The Gracik-Makinney Group are honored to be donating our “Share the Love” rainbow magnets to hand out to all attendees.

If you want to find out more about how diversity and acceptance are important values in our community, call us at (630) 441-5570 or reach out through our website, www.gmregroup.com.

Elmhurst Metra Station Garners More Grants

by Thomas Makinney

While downtown Elmhurst continues to boom and attract a wealth of restaurants, pubs, entertainment options, and outdoor space, the train station—the first structure that many see when entering the city—is deeply out of step.

That’s all about the change. The Elmhurst Metra station is one step closer to being fully funded prior to a complete overhaul expected to begin in summer 2019.

The city recently secured a $2.4 million grant from the Illinois Commerce Commission. This is in addition to the $10 million awarded last October by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for planning. In addition, the DuPage Mayor and Managers Conference has also pledged another $2 million through a separate federal funding program.

The project is expected to cost around $18 million and will replace or improve the current structure, last updated in the 1980s. Plans include a full facelift and facility overhaul. There will be new inbound and outbound stations with new waiting areas/warming shelters, a new pedestrian tunnel at York St. that is ADA compliant, drop-off lanes for buses and vehicles, increased bike parking, and improved pedestrian crossing and sidewalks.

A large clock tower will be erected on the north side of the tracks, providing a welcoming landmark to the city.

Many residents feel that the outdated facility doesn’t accurately reflect the city’s image while officials recognize that it is not prepared for the expected 30% uptick of riders in the next 20 years, as commuters are predicted to begin switching from car travel to mass transit.

Currently, the Elmhurst station is the busiest stop on the Union Pacific West line and the seventh busiest station out of the Metra’s 236 stations. It has more than 2,300 weekday riders.

The station’s overhaul will allow for better accessibility and address safety issues.

Chicago firm CDM Smith was hired for the project in 2016 and designed the proposed improvements. The next step is for the city to reach out to engineers for a second phase of studies for the project. That process will include a series of public meetings.

At The Gracik-Makinney Group, we love seeing the constant flow of improvements to our city. For more information about living here and loving it, call us at (630) 441-5570 or reach out through our website, www.gmregroup.com.

 

D205 ranked one of best in state

by Thomas Makinney

 

Achieving another top placement, Elmhurst District 205 was recently ranked sixth in Illinois by the National Council for Home Safety and Security.

The survey looked at school funding, student performance, dropout rate, and poverty rate. D205 sixth place ranking came from a total of 365 eligible districts in Illinois. Nationwide, D205 ranked in the top 3% with more than 9,500 districts surveyed, and D205 coming in at 283.

Schools with better funding tend to have smaller classes, longer school years, and better-paid teachers. Likewise, schools with strong student performance, as measured by math and reading test scores, tend to build upon that success, with students inspiring and influencing each other. Elmhurst schools have both factors plus an extremely low dropout and poverty rate.

Other schools coming in on top in Illinois Naperville CUSD203 and Morton Community CUSD709, both of which were ranked top in Illinois and the nation. Other school districts in Illinois’s top 10 include Wauconda, Dunlap, Barrington, Indian Prairie, Geneva, and St. Charles.

Elmhurst schools consistently rank at the top of all surveys. We’re proud of all that our schools have to offer and the amazing educators who make it all possible. To learn more about the schools or any part of life in Elmhurst, call us at (630) 441-5570 or email us through our website, www.gmregroup.com.

Elmhurst College Awards First-Generation Scholarships

by Thomas Makinney

Elmhurst College recently announced the recipients of its inaugural Elmhurst College American Dream Fellowship Competition, a scholarship contest that supports and celebrates first-generation college students.

The competition was launched last year as part of the college’s commitment to helping its students achieve the American dream. It was open to all first-generation college students who had been admitted to Elmhurst College for the fall of 2018. Applicants were asked to submit a video on the topic, “As a first-generation student, what would graduating from college mean to you and your family?” 

Scholarship applications came in not only from the Chicago area but also from across the country. On Feb. 19, winners were announced at a ceremony in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel on campus with more than 500 people, including many family members, in attendance.

Lillian Rizo-Dubois, a Prairie Ridge High School senior from Crystal Lake, received first place. She plans to major in French with the goal of teaching high school. She received a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the college. Several other winners received awards ranging from four years’ room and board to a stipend covering the cost of books and materials.

In addition to the video, contestants and their families came to campus for in-person interviews and to hear from current first-generation college students, campus leaders, and alumni, before attending the ceremony later that afternoon.

Here at Gracik-Makinney, we congratulate not only the winners of the scholarships but also the college on its unwavering commitment to providing a quality, inclusive education for everyone.

For more information about life in Elmhurst, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com.


Timothy Christian high schoolers “Renew” their interests

by Thomas Makinney

Each year after Christmas break and before the start of the second semester, Timothy Christian high school students have the opportunity to explore the world around them outside (and inside) the classroom.

Renew is an eight-day program that allows students to participate in unique, interest-based classes not held during the academic year, go on a discipleship or mission trip, or arrange unpaid internships in their areas of interests.

This year’s offerings provided a wide range of opportunities. Students who had followed recent natural disasters were able to study how communities prepare for disaster relief and then do outreach work exploring real-life situations. They served at food depositories, and partnered with blood drives, clothing drives, and charity fundraisers to learn the hands-on aspects of serving.

Some students served at various ministry organizations in Chicago to learn about the needs of the homeless or the issues facing immigrants. They served in a food pantry and at lunch with clients at a homeless shelter. Some students went to New York for a similar experience that involved tutoring young children.

Juniors and seniors have the opportunity to arrange for an unpaid internship in an area of interest, such as in a hospital or business setting.

But the program also held relevant programs that focused on individual enrichment. Students could learn golf or rock climbing; they could explore a facet of WWII or learn about religions outside of Christianity. They could get exposure to careers in education, journalism, and fashion or study creative writing, drawing, or film.

The program has been in existence since 2015 and strives to expose TC students to people or ideas that they wouldn’t necessarily learn about or be exposed to otherwise. 

Both Timothy Christian staff members and external members of the community teach the classes. Any businesses or professionals who are interested in hosting students or offering shadowing opportunities next year should email Tyra Bone, Renew coordinator, at bone@timothychristian.com.  

We’re proud of the many educational opportunities that schools in Elmhurst offer, and Timothy Christian is no exception. By thinking outside the box, students gain an invaluable exposure to life outside of Elmhurst and inside themselves.

To learn more about Elmhurst schools and life in our city, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit www.gmregroup.com

Elmhurst D205 to offer dual Spanish-English curriculum

by Thomas Makinney


Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, students in D205 will have the opportunity to enroll in a dual language program (Spanish/English) at Conrad Fischer Elementary.

The classes will be regular curriculum classes taught in both English and Spanish, with an equal mix of native English speakers and native Spanish speakers. There will be at least 50% of instruction in each level, and the curriculum will match the regular English curriculum.

The program is aimed at not only helping native Spanish speakers learn English but also to help native English speakers become truly fluent in Spanish.

While providing bilingual classrooms and curriculum is mandatory for all public schools in Illinois who have 20 or more students of one language in the school, a dual language program goes a step further to fully integrate two cultures. The hope is that both groups will pick up a second language and emerge from the program fully fluent in both languages.

The goal of the program is that by the end of elementary school, all students in the program are fluent in both languages and have academic performance that exceeds their monolingual counterparts.

A recent study revealed that students who complete a dual language program enter middle school outperforming their peers by as much as one grade level in all subjects.

It’s a win-win situation where Spanish students will develop their native language rather than losing it (and close the gap between Spanish-speaking students and their English-speaking counterparts) while English speakers will add a second language without sacrificing English development.

For the first year, the program will focus on kindergarten, but it is expected to continue through fifth grade.

There were concerns from some parents that teachers wouldn’t be able to teach enough Spanish while others were concerned that the school doesn’t have enough room. Current plans involve extensive language training for teachers over the summer and two classrooms dedicated to the program.

There are numerous benefits to speaking two languages including increased executive functioning, protection against cognitive decline, and a cultural awareness, sensitivity, and appreciation for other languages and cultures.

And in this world of global citizenry, it’s hard to argue with that.

We’re so proud of Elmhurst for taking this leap and embracing a truly bilingual program. To learn more about our amazing schools and community, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit www.gmregroup.com

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