Indian Head Park Administrator John DuRocher (second from left), and Mayor Tom Hinshaw (third from left), along with presenters from Strand Associates, at the town hall meeting on April 26. (Photos by Carol McGowan)

Indian Head Park Administrator John DuRocher (second from left), and Mayor Tom Hinshaw (third from left), along with presenters from Strand Associates, at the town hall meeting on April 26. (Photos by Carol McGowan)

Huge turnout for meeting on Wolf Road widening in Indian Head Park

By Carol McGowan

A crowd estimated at more than 150 packed Lyonsville Congregational Church in Indian Head Park last week to hear about plans to widen Wolf Road.

The plans have been in the works since 2020 and call for Cook County to widen Wolf Road from 79th Street to Plainfield Road.

Most of the widening project involves Wolf Road as it runs through Indian Head Park, but the project would also affect Burr Ridge, Countryside, and Willow Springs.

Residents got their first look at the plans at a village open house on April 7.

A town hall meeting on the project was held April 26. It was the first public meeting about the project. In addition to village officials, and project planners, there were about 150 people on hand, most of them from Indian Head Park.

The almost two and a half hour meeting took place in the basement of Lyonsville Congregational Church, where Joliet and Wolf roads meet in Indian Head Park.

This meeting was part of the study phase, and Cook County officials were not on hand.

Village officials and staff from Strand Associates, which is the engineering company conducting the study, were on hand to answer questions.

The Phase I Study is evaluating the transportation needs of the corridor, and will be based on the broader transportation system encompassing roadways, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities.

The goal of this first public meeting was to introduce the Phase I Study to the public, get input from those in attendance on the preliminary project alternatives, and learn from the public about their first-hand use of the corridor.

Contract Plan Preparation and Land Acquisition (Phase II) and Construction (Phase III) will follow the completion of the Phase I Study. The timeline for those phases will be determined based on funding availability. Phase II and Phase III are not currently funded.

Public comments delivered in person or submitted electronically on the Village of Indian Head Park’s website will be included in the official meeting summary.

Matt Gazdziak, Project Engineer from Strand Associates, and other representatives made a presentation on the scope of the project, and the majority of the meeting were questions from the audience.

Indian Head Park Village Administrator John DuRocher stated at the beginning of the meeting that a five-lane proposal would not be recommended to the county. He said a three-lane proposal is the one that the village supports.

That brought some cheers from the crowd.

DuRocher said the village had to follow federal highway administration/IDOT requirements to look at the whole picture, and that is why the five-lane option was looked at.

The idea is to expand Wolf Road, putting a sidewalk on one side, and a multi-use wider path on the other side to allow for bicycle riders.

Some residents said they liked the idea. Others do not because it would mean scores of trees coming down to make room for the expansion.

Some residents said they were afraid of rain water issues, and trucks legally being able to use the proposed “bigger Wolf Road.”

Wolf Road is a county road, and the Cook County Board will have final say on the project. That decision is not coming any time soon.

The next public meeting will be held in the spring of 2023.

There were maps and project boards at the meeting for those in the audience to look at. There is a video of the meeting that’s available on the Indian Head Park website.

Sharon Kalinoski lives in Indian Head Park. She told the Desplaines Valley News, that she, and other residents don’t want the project to move forward.

“We are proud to be a Tree City for more than 30 years, with beautiful landscaping,” she said. “However, the look of our town will be forever ruined if the county moves forward with plans to reconstruct and widen Wolf Road to three or five lanes plus sidewalks or paths on both sides. Thousands of trees would be removed, greatly affecting birds and other wildlife. Many residents will lose property from their yards and some homes may be taken under eminent domain.”

Another resident, in favor of the widening, said it’s needed. “It’s important to move ahead with reconstruction and growth. I’d like to have sidewalks there. Trees that are there now originally started out small. New landscaping will take shape and grow in years to come.”

Hinshaw thought the town hall meeting went well.

“We had a nice turnout and it was good that we moved the meeting from our smaller Village Hall,” he said. “The village engineer was there to provide answers to questions and the village board was there to listen. It gave our community another chance to let the village board know their concerns.”

Hinshaw says the project would benefit residents in that the village has approved a sidewalk/pedestrian master plan with a goal of providing a safe way for children to get to school by walking or biking, and all residents would have access to two parks by walking or bicycling along the main roads in the village.

“Many studies have shown that walking and biking are great exercise and are better for the environment. Having safe routes to school for our children and safe ways for pedestrians to move along our main streets will be a huge benefit for years to come.”

Hinshaw recognizes that some residents have concerns and don’t want to see this project move forward.

“The biggest concern that I see is the alternative presented for five lanes for Wolf Road. I have not heard one person or group who supports this alternative. The village and county are united in being against five lanes. We will do everything that we can to not expand Wolf Road to five lanes.”

IHP town hall crowd

About 150 people attended the town hall meeting in Indian Head Park on April 26.

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