The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning voted Thursday to adopt a comprehensive plan to guide development in DuPage County, as well as Cook, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.
Dubbed GO TO 2040, the initiatives are designed to help grow communities, build infrastructure to attract more residents and industries to the area, grow an educated workforce and develop, build upon or add to mass transit systems to connect the various communities.
"Communities such as Hinsdale, Elmhurst and Clarendon Hills have a lot in common. They are significant communities that have established downtowns. They are communities that have pretty good access to public transit. So I think what we want to do is build on that success for all of them," said Randy Blankenhorn, CMAP's Executive Director.
According to Blankenhorn, CMAP has been developing GO TO 2040 for the past three years. "We spent two summers ago talking to over 35,000 people about the plan, including our elected officials. This last summer we met with all our elected officials, all our mayors, all our county board members to talk about what it is that we're doing… to make sure we're all on the same page in moving this plan forward."
Senator Richard Durbin was there for CMAP's announcement of the GO TO 2040 launch. "What we're trying to do here is think 30 years ahead. What is this region going to look like? And you have to face—based on what you see we have—to come to the conclusion that we're going to be working more closely together if we're going to be effective. Creating jobs, livable communities, good schools. All of these things require planning. Fortunately, this is a great first step in outward thinking for long term goals."
Prior to the creation of CMAP, there were several different independent planning organizations that were not coordinating their efforts with each other. Durbin said this was a problem.
"I called them in my office and said if you all don't coordinate what you're doing, you're worthless! I don't know which one to listen to. They did. They brought it together under CMAP. So they accepted my challenge," said Durbin.
CMAP has designed a website that fully explains their mission and plans for the area. Some villages may not have specific projects built or implemented directly within their boundaries, but they will be affected by the plan nonetheless. Blankenhorn explained why he hopes all the local governments will coordinate with CMAP on projects.
"They have to realize that they don't survive by themselves. That it's a regional economy. The decisions that they make impact their neighbors. The decisions their neighbors make impact them. We're all in this together."