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Elmhurst District 205 Earns A+ Rating

by Thomas Makinney

We never had any doubt, but a recent study confirms: Elmhurst schools are in one of the best districts in the state.

District 205 ranked in the top 10 school districts in Illinois in a recent study compiled by Niche. The report also gave the district a coveted A+ rating.

Niche is a data-analyzing company that researches and ranks U.S. colleges, schools, neighborhoods, and companies. For the school survey, rankings were based on data from the U.S. Department of Education’s reports on test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, and teacher quality as well as reviews from parents and students.

All elementary and middle schools in Elmhurst received a rating in the “A” range, while York received an A+ rating as did the district as a whole.

The district ranked 9th in Illinois for best school districts, 13th for best school districts for athletes, and 22nd for best places to teach.

According to the survey, the top five districts in Illinois are Community High School District 128 in Libertyville, New Trier Township High School District 203, Naperville Community Unit School District 203, Barrington Community Unit School District 220, and Indian Prairie Community Unit School District 204.

Here at Gracik Makinney Group, we recognize that our great schools are the foundation of our community, and we’re proud that they are consistently ranked among the best. For more information about living in Elmhurst, contact us at (630) 441-5570 or visit www.gmregroup.com.

Windy City Ninjas Comes to Elmhurst!

by Thomas Makinney


The perennially popular summer TV “American Ninja Warriors” is coming to life in Elmhurst! Kids and families can now experience the fun and thrills (and amazing workout) by jumping, climbing, leaping, swing, and balancing through an action-packed obstacle course.

Windy City Ninjas opened its 12,000 sq. ft. facility in Elmhurst last week. This is the second location following the popular obstacle course gym in Chicago.

Owner Tom Rhomberg started Windy City Ninjas to help children who may not otherwise be engaged in organized sports a fun alternative for fitness. Although anyone, athletes included, will benefit from the self-confidence and cross-training that an obstacle workout encompasses.

The facility offers structured 55-min. classes for ages 2-15, which are broken down by age group. Similar to the TV show, kids complete multiple circuits focused on specific areas. They rotate stations every 12-15 min. to work on different skills, such as strength, agility, and endurance, but each station packs fun along with exercise.

During the last 10 minutes of each class, students tackle a full obstacle course, which varies each week for variety and allows kids to get a sense of accomplishment at how much they are improving.

The gym also offers adult classes as well as a Family Fun Night every other Friday evening, where parents and kids can compete and play together. There is also an Open Gym on the weekends, which allows full access to the facility. In addition, kids can host 80-min birthday parties that includes an instructor and pizza and cake.

Windy City Ninjas is located at 684 W. Lake St. To find out more, including class times and pricing, visit www.windycityninjas.com.

Here at Gracik Makinney Group, we love seeing new businesses open up, and this is a fresh take on traditional fitness and sports training. To find out more about other exciting happenings in Elmhurst, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit www.gmregroup.com.


Two exciting new businesses will be moving into Elmhurst this summer, and we can’t wait.

Fry the Coop will be opening at North Ave and Route 83. The restaurants serves Nashville hot chicken—fried chicken slathered in a spicy sauce, ranging from mild/no-heat to super spicy (made with the certifiably world’s hottest chili, the Carolina Reaper). They serve chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, chicken and waffles, and their popular donut fried chicken sandwich, which is served on a glazed doughnut.

This is the second Fry the Coop location for Villa Park native Joe Fontana. His first restaurant in Oak Lawn opened in 2017 and has been an instant hit. Fontana grew up cooking meatballs with his grandmother and felt fried chicken kept with that traditional home cooking theme. He keeps the menu small to ensure the quality, and the chicken is fresh, never frozen, and hand breaded daily. In addition to chicken, Fry the Coop serves a handful of sides and a rotating selection of craft beers.

On a different scale, but equally exciting is the new At Home home décor superstore set to open in late summer in the former Kmart space on Route 83. Designed to make decorating affordable and fun, the 103,000-square-foot space will feature more than 50,000 home decorating items, including furniture, rugs, housewares, patio furniture, and a wide selection of seasonal décor.

The store focuses on a wide range of affordable items, with about 400 new products coming in every week. Based in Plano, Texas, this is their fifth store in Illinois. A location in Geneva opened in May to rave reviews.

We love seeing vibrant new businesses move into our community! And we’re looking forward to relaxing in a redecorated space after a delicious fried chicken dinner!

To find out more about business and life in Elmhurst, call us at 630-441-5570 or visit us at www.gmregroup.com.

 

 

No new school boundaries for District 205

by Thomas Makinney

The Elmhurst Community School District 205 board is one step closer to finalizing its master facility plan for upgrading facilities and services.

For the foreseeable future, the controversial question as to whether or not to redraw school boundaries has been shut down. Most boundary lines will remain the same; however, a small percentage of students from Hawthorne will move to Edison, and a small percentage of Jackson students will be bussed to Edison.

There is no timeframe for if or when this plan would go into effect. But any student currently attending either school would not have to change school. And there is the possibility that current homeowners would be grandfathered into their current home school.

The board is attempting to make class sizes more equal across the district.  This plan would redraw some school lines with minimal impact.

Other issues the school board has been weighing for the past three years include an all-day kindergarten program and two new school buildings (Lincoln and Field).

If the district wants to put it a bond referendum to vote in the November election, it has until Aug. 14. Otherwise, it will need to wait until 2020 or propose a referendum.

The board will be conducting a phone poll to approximately 300 residents for their input, and results will be provided by Aug. 9.

Items still under discussion include upgrade specifics, how to implement an all-day kindergarten (per school or at a central location), whether to rebuild or renovate Lincoln and Field schools, which are nearly century-old buildings, and the final cost.

Our high-achieving schools are one of the main reasons Elmhurst is such a desirable place to live. To find out more about our community, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com.

 

Elmhurst Library Completes Kids’ Area Renovation

by Thomas Makinney


The Elmhurst Public Library’s newly renovated Kids’ Library completed its seven-month renovation just in time for the bustle of summer.
 
Spaces were moved, computers added, and areas added to better accommodate changing needs.
 
The project was done in five phases, and at no time was the whole space closed. And thanks to long-term budgeting plans, no property tax increases were needed to fund the project.
 
The Learning Garden, which attracts the youngest patrons, was moved to the east side of the department where it overlooks Wilder Park and is surrounded by windows on two sides. The space expanded and now includes a puppet stage, a kitchen set, train and block table, and plenty of early literacy activities. The board books are arranged with covers facing out, making them more appealing for exploring.
 
A new computer lab with 11 stations was installed, allowing for kids’ classes to be held in addition to the daily individual computer activity.
 
Middle schoolers get their own space as well, featuring comfortable seating, video game space, and a separate room for group study or projects.
 
The popular Storytime Room stayed in place but expanded with retractable glass wall to let in more natural light and allow for flexibility in spacing. The new area accommodates more children for puppets, crafts, story hours, and more.
 
There is also a dedicated craft area, more seating, additional tables wired with USB and electrical outlets, and new, flexible-use furniture The entire department got new carpeting, and a door was added to access the south lawn of the library.
 
The Elmhurst Library is one of our city’s crown jewels. We love how it constantly shifts and updates as patrons’ needs evolve.
 
If you want to learn more about the many resources that Elmhurst has to offer, reach out to us by calling (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com.
 

Plans are underway for Elmhurst dog park

by Thomas Makinney

Elmhurst is preparing to unleash the hounds.
 
The park district has begun plans for an off-leash dog park at its recently acquired property at 0S761 Old York Road.
 
Upland Design of Plainfield will begin analyzing the site, collecting public input, and preparing preliminary designs. The park district hopes to have an idea of what they propose sometime in August.
 
The dog park is the result of the park district’s Vision 2020 survey, which identified off-leash dog parks, walking trails, and natural areas as high outdoor facility priorities.
 
The park district acquired the 3.41 acres in Nov. in exchange for the 2.9 acres of Golden Meadows Park, which will be used by the city for off-site storm water detention to relieve residential flooding issues in that neighborhood.
 
The property currently includes a small office building and a garage. It’s too soon to tell what the proposed cost will be, as much of that depends on what features the park will offer. Suggestions include separate areas for large and small dogs, type of surface, what trees (if any) need to be removed, and whether it will include water features.
 
Upland has already begun studying the property and gathering input. The district plans to have opportunities throughout the summer for residents to give their input. These will likely include open houses and online surveys.
 
Elmhurst is already a city with numerous parks (23 to be exact!) and a dog park will be a welcome addition. For more information about the many benefits of living in our city, please call us at (630) 441-5570 or reach out through our website, www.gmregroup.com.

Elmhurst Trolley Returns for Free Rides All Summer

by Thomas Makinney


 
If you’re looking for a fun way to explore Elmhurst this summer without worrying about parking or hoofing it in the heat, the Elmhurst Trolley is back in action to help you out!
 
This is the fourth season for the trolley, which makes a 30-minute loop and runs on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to midnight.
 
Hop on and off to visit the museums, grab a bite to eat, take in a movie, or do some shopping. The trolley is free and you don’t even need a ticket.
 
There are six stops throughout town, connecting downtown Elmhurst with the Spring Road business district and the York and Vallette business district. Each stop is marked by an Explore Elmhurst sign and has nearby parking. The trolley is equipped with a GPS so riders can visit ExploreElmhurst.com and track the location.
 
As if that weren’t enough, the sounds of the Elmhurst College Jazz Band are piped in, and a historical narrative points out highlights of the city.
 
The trolley is in operation from June 1–September 15. It is handicapped accessible and ADA compliant. Collapsible strollers are welcome if they fit in the seating area, however onboard storage is unavailable and as such, no bikes are allowed.
 
The trolley stops at the following intersections:
Stop 1—York and Park
Stop 2—York and Schiller
Stop 3—Second and Addison
Stop 4—Cottage Hill and Virginia
Stop 5—Spring Road and the Illinois Prairie Path
Stop 6—York and Vallette
 
For more information on the trolley and other summer events, visit ExploreElmhurst.com.
 
For more information about life in Elmhurst and the many benefits we offer, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com.
 

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.
 

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