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Elmhurst Public Library Receives National Five Star Rating

by Thomas Makinney

Elmhurst residents know just how amazing and special our library is—with its vibrant atmosphere, depth of materials, stunning views, and friendly staff, it’s consistently ranked among the best in the area. But it has officially been once again recognized as one of the best in the entire country.
 
For the second year in a row, the Elmhurst Public Library received a five-star rating from Library Journal’s prestigious national review of public libraries. Out of 7,361 public libraries rated across the country, only 257 qualified as star libraries. In Illinois, 21 libraries were given star ratings, but Elmhurst is one of only three that received the top-tier five-star rating, joining Skokie Public Library and Oak Park Public Library.
 
In fact, Elmhurst Public Library had the honor of being ranked in the top ten libraries ten nationwide and was ranked first in Illinois in the $5-9.9M category.
 
The ratings system looked at five measures: overall circulation, circulation of electronic materials, library visits, program attendance, and public computer use. Circulation and visits were the two strongest indicators, but Library Journal also reports that the best libraries need to have welcoming facilities (yes!), a variety of well-attended community programs (yes!), and a wide range of collections (yes! yes!). Technology use and access were also factored in.
 
Libraries were compared to other libraries with similar funding, meaning that a star rating is given on an apples-to-apples comparison basis and small libraries are not at a disadvantage.
 
The five states with the most Star Libraries are New York (31), Ohio (23), Illinois (21), Massachusetts (13), and Kansas (12). 
 
The breadth of offerings of our library—from the coffee shop to the makerspace, the story time room to the teen room, the senior programming to the business center—makes the library one of the consistently most popular places in town. When you tie in the expansive view of windows overlooking Wilder Park, the fresh coffee and pastries, and the welcoming fireplace, the magic of our library is particularly evident.
 
Congratulations to one of Elmhurst’s crown jewels! To find out more about offerings at the library and other aspects of life in Elmhurst, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit www.gmregroup.com.

Elmhurst tree will be star of Chicago’s Christmas scene

by Thomas Makinney

Chicago’s official Christmas tree will actually be an Elmhurst tree. Longtime resident Deborah Orth’s 60-foot Norway Spruce will be aglow all season in Millennium Park.

The 48-year-old tree has graced the yard of the Orth’s home since it was built in 1949.  It weighs a whopping 8,200 pounds. Workers came last Thur., Nov. 1, to cut it down and bring it to Millennium Park.

It will be adorned with approximately 30,000 glowing lights, and the Orths will have the honor of flipping the switch at the official tree lighting ceremony on Fri., Nov. 16.

The city put out the call for a tree in mid-September, and the Orth’s tree was chosen by out of 79 submissions. 

To qualify trees must be at least 55 feet tall, be less than 100 miles from Chicago’s Loop, and be a Spruce or Fir (pine trees aren’t sturdy enough). Applicants must send in two photos and a brief description of why their tree deserves to be the city’s official tree.

The tree will get it’s chance to shine next week. Festivities kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16. The star of Chicago’s production of Hamilton, Miguel Cervantes, will be the host of the evening. In addition to the tree lighting and appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, there will also be performances by the cast of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and musicians from the Grant Park Music Festival.

Congratulations to the Orth family! We’re proud that a local tree will be enjoyed through Jan. 6 at Millennium Park. To find out more about the houses (and trees) in Elmhurst, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit gmregroup.com.

Elmhurst Centre for the Performing Arts’ Spotlight Gala

by Thomas Makinney

There’s still time to get tickets for one of the most exciting events in town! Elmhurst Centre for the Performing Arts will host its third annual Spotlight Gala on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

The nonprofit group is working to raise funds for a downtown state-of-the-art performing arts center, which would comprise a 50,000 square foot facility with two theaters of different sizes, a vibrant lobby, and rooftop green space that would be available for smaller groups. During the gala, the group plans to announce the latest updates in its search for a permanent location.

Approximately 30 local performing arts groups in and around Elmhurst have expressed interest in using the center.

The evening will include performances by Evolution Dance and Extensions Lyrical Dance performers as well as musicians from York High School.  Attendees can dance to music by the talented Elmhurst resident Brian Patti's seven-piece orchestra.

There will also be plenty of food, live and silent auctions, and wine and beer pull. Tim Soszko from Elmhurst Children's Theatre will serve as the evening’s emcee.

The Elmhurst Centre for the Performing Arts (ECPA) was established as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization in 2016. Once the group has landed on a location, they will begin a capital fundraising campaign. Earlier this year, a study conducted by a Chicago-based consulting group confirmed that the city and surrounding area could support a performing arts center.

Tickets to the gala are $150. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.ecpa-elmhurst.org.

Here at Gracik Makinney Group, we’re thrilled to watch the vision of ECPA come to life. The city has a well-known, vibrant arts scene, and there is no doubt a center would be a jewel in the crown. To find out more about living here, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit us at www.gmregroup.com.

Image rendition courtesy of Elmhurst Centre for the Performing Arts.

 

 

Elmhurst 205 School Referendum – Don’t Forget to Vote!

by Thomas Makinney


As if the stakes weren’t high enough already, there’s a great local reason to head to the polls this Nov. 6. District 205 has an important referendum on the ballot, and it hopes all residents understand the importance of the question and how the funds will be used.

Each of the 13 schools will have some type of improvement in the $168.5 million plan, which breaks down into a tax impact of approximately $150 per year in additional taxes on a $500,000 home.

The benefits for students and the schools will be tremendous and will include the following:

  • Rebuilding two elementary schools: 103-year-old Lincoln (103 years old) and Field (87 years old)
  • Providing security updates at Sandburg, Bryan, Churchville, ­­Jackson, and Jefferson schools
  • Creating learning spaces that will enhance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
  • Providing classroom space for optional, all-day kindergarten programming
  • Enhancing district-wide technology infrastructure
  • Adding or updating air conditioning and other HVAC systems at Jackson and Jefferson elementary schools
  • Renovating aging buildings including:
    • Renovating and expanding Edison Elementary School
    • Building an auditorium at Churchville Middle School
    • Adding a classroom and stage at Fischer Elementary
    • Renovating the auditorium to meet safety expectations at York High School as well as continuing athletic field and school land improvements.
    • Acquiring a new space for the transition program for students with disabilities after high school
    • Creating age-appropriate facilities at Madison Early Childhood Center

Placing the referendum on the ballot was the result of three years of community engagement.

If voters approve the referendum, committees of architects, construction experts, parents, staff, and residents will help shape the focus of the plans and their implementation.

If the referendum doesn’t pass, the district will be forced to pull funds from the operations and maintenance budgets (as allowed per tax laws) to handle the $26 million basic maintenance needs the district will need over the next 10 years.

The district has complete information on its website, elmhurst205.org and residents are also encouraged to learn about the Master Facilities Plan at elmhurst205.org/MasterFacilityPlan.

Here at Gracik Makinney Group, we vote “Yes” on the referendum and urge residents to inform themselves and head to the polls on Tue. Nov. 6. To find out more about our schools and amazing community, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit gmregroup.com.

 

Elmhurst Explores Ideas of Beehives and Food Trucks

by Thomas Makinney

We love how the leaders and planners in Elmhurst are constantly challenging themselves to improve and make life better for residents. Right now, the city is listening to an influx of requests and considering two concepts: one to allow residential beekeeping and one eyeing the possibility of food trucks.

Residents have been buzzing about the possibility of beehives since the city allowed educational institutions to establish hives. Currently, Elmhurst College has two thriving hives, and York High School has plans in the works but nothing up yet.

Of the 39 communities in DuPage County, 15 of them allow some type of residential beekeeping, usually with some type of restriction on lot sizes and distance between residences and with the understanding that the practice is only in hobby form.

Members of the Public Affairs and Safety committee are now researching specifically how those communities handle the bees and beehives.

Also hitting the pavement are members of the Development Committee as they begin looking at the possibility of food trucks in Elmhurst.  These are food trucks that actually cook the food as opposed to canteen trucks, which sell drinks and pre-prepared food and are popular around construction sites, and ice cream trucks.

Although the food trucks aren’t expected to generate booming business, alderman see them being popular at block parties. But they want to ensure the trucks don’t have a detrimental impact on brick and mortar restaurants and bars.  One suggestion was to allow them to operate near a central downtown location and only between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Committee members are now going out to talk to local restaurant owners and members of Elmhurst City Centre.

Both topics are on the agenda for the council’s next meeting on Oct. 22.

Here at Gracik Makinney Group, we love how our city is constantly exploring new ways to grow and change. To find out more about living in Elmhurst, call us at (630) 441-5570 or visit our website, www.gmregroup.com.

 

 


 

Plans Move Forward for Elmhurst Dog Park

by Thomas Makinney


Tails are wagging across Elmhurst since the Park District moved one step closer to finalizing plans for a dog park in south Elmhurst. The board of commissioners recently approved a design plan for the potential park to be located on 3.4 acres off Old York Road on a former trailer park property.

Following a July 26 open house for residents to view proposed designs, the Park District and Upland Design of Plainfield (which has been analyzing the site, collecting public input, and preparing preliminary designs) released its dog site park site analysis.

Plans for the dog park include separate areas for big and small dogs, a water feature, a walking path within the park, and a shade structure as well as seating. A paid permit will be required to use the dog park.

A tentative cost estimate of close to $2 million would include clearing brush and dead trees; removing pavement, a small office building, and a garage; and construction costs of the actual park. Those numbers are not firm, however, and will likely change once plans are finalized and bids go out. The park district will most likely find additional sources of revenue (such as partnerships, grants, or even a referendum) to offset the costs.

No timeframe has been set for construction to begin. Cost will likely play a large factor in how quickly it can go constructed.

The push for a dog park came about after the community showed interest in the Vision 2020 Community Needs Assessment survey.

Here at Gracik Makinney, we’re all dog lovers and thrilled that Elmhurst is making plans for pups to play and romp off leash. 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 Considering Rooftop Decks

by Thomas Makinney

Rooftop bars, restaurants, and other sky-high amenities could be coming to Elmhurst soon. The city council voted last week to send the idea of rooftop decks to the Zoning and Planning Commission who will open up the possibility in a series of public hearings.

The possibilities for what to put on rooftops range from bars and restaurants to recreational/fitness spaces, dog runs, fire pits, community gathering sites, and even swimming pools.

The city council’s current recommendations for rooftop amenity decks include a required three-foot setback on all sides from exterior walls for safety reasons, a height limit of 15 feet, and a space limit of 25 percent of the roof footprint. The decks would have to meet city building codes and receive engineering approval.

Hours of operation for rooftop businesses would follow the same guidelines as Elmhurst beer gardens, and they would be subject to the same rules on noise and lighting.

Developers approached the city in June with the idea of having amenity decks on downtown buildings after several businesses inquired about using their roofs as gathering spaces. Currently, only structures used for housing mechanical equipment can be on the rooftop, and any of these structures, including chimneys, cannot extend more than 15 feet above the allowable building height restriction.

Among the decisions still to be determined is where the rooftop structures could be located, but they could potentially be allowed throughout Elmhurst.  The decks are only being considered for commercial and multi-unit buildings, although planners haven’t ruled out the possibility of allowing them on single-family residences.

The zoning and planning commission hasn’t yet set a date for public hearings.

Here at Gracik Makinney Group, we love how our city expands and adapts to the needs and wants of residents. As our downtown continues to flourish, rooftop decks are yet another way to soak up all we have to offer.

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

 

 

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.

 

 

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