A proposed series of improvements to Memorial Field on Crescent Boulevard across from the Glenbard West High School campus has sparked controversy among several citizen groups in Glen Ellyn. These organizations stress concern that the high volume of traffic on Crescent Boulevard, combined with expanded use of Memorial Field will increase the hazards for students and children in the area.
Memorial Field is used for by the school for physical education classes and other athletic functions. Glenbard Township High School District 87 is in the process of upgrading Memorial Field, with increased seating and proposed lighting which would allow night use of the field. Use of the field would not be limited to school associated events.
The district would also rent the field for other uses, which area residents fear will increase traffic in the area as well. During a District 87 board meeting earlier this month residents expressed concern over light pollution from the proposed stadium lighting, which could cost $300,000. An online petition opposing the lights at the field launched Feb. 1.
The school board is looking for approval to submit a variance application regarding installation of the lights to the Village at its Feb. 22 meeting. If approved, the variance application would likely be reviewed by the Village Plan Commission in March.
As the process continues to move forward, residents are rallying around traffic data to point out how increased use of Memorial Field will impact the residential areas surrounding the school.
The organizations, particularly Our Field, Our Town and Citizens for Preservation, cite data from a 2010 village study detailing a high number of automobile accidents on that stretch of road. The $44,000 study, conducted by Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co. of Downers Grove, noted that from 2004-2008 there were 53 crashes on Crescent Boulevard between Park Boulevard and Riford Road involving side swipes, pedestrians, pedal cyclists, rear ends, turning and hitting fixed objects. Village records show there were six crashes in 2009 and about twice that number in 2010 in the same area.
Deputy Chief Bill Holmer said the Glen Ellyn Police Department has taken measures to improve safety conditions near the high school including lowering the speed limit to 20 miles per hour and preventing u-turns.
“Pick-ups and drop-offs were creating some conflicts in the area so we created regulations there to prevent them in front of the high school,” Holmer said.
Even with the lower speed limit, Holmer said he does not have many reports of speeding along that stretch of Crescent.
“Oftentimes there’s so much traffic in that area that you can’t get above the posted speed,” he said.
Looking at the crash data in the Burns & McDonnell report, Holmer said he could not say whether or not the factors of the crashes were related to traffic associated with the school.
“Without going back to look at the crash data I cannot say what the causes were,” Holmer said.
The first engineering study was commissioned by the school district in 2009. The $13,245 study, undertaken by Eriksson Engineering Associates, sought to identify measures to improve pedestrian and vehicular safety along Crescent Boulevard. According to a March 2009 proposal letter from Glen Eriksson, president of the engineering firm, the study utilized existing public records to examine the school district’s wants.
In May 2009 the Eriksson study identified three levels of improvements for Crescent Boulevard. The first level included:
- Turning Ellyn Avenue into a one-way street southbound from Ellyn Court
- Eliminate the drive from behind the gymnasium to Ellyn Court
- Make Crescent Court into a one-way eastbound road
- Install sidewalks as necessary
- Install flashing warning devices
- Create a new pick-up and drop-off location in the faculty parking lot
The second level included:
- Install a 48-inch concrete barrier median
- Stripe crosswalks and add sidewalks
- Create turn lanes
- Create parallel parking
The third level included:
- New parking lots
- A pedestrian bridge over Ellyn Avenue
- Turn Ellyn Road into a two-way lane with bigger drop off areas
- Eliminate access to Park Boulevard and Crescent Court from Crescent Boulevard
- Making school fields contiguous with the school
The scenarios were presented to the school board in October 2009. The suggestions were accepted by board members, who in turn took the suggestions to the village trustees. After being presented the Eriksson study in January, the village board hired Burns & McDonnell to conduct their own safety and traffic study. After that study was conducted, the village implemented some additional safety measures including a new crossing point at the intersection of Ellyn Avenue and Crescent; crossing supervision by physical education staff; enforcement of the speed limit and possible installment of a raised crosswalk and flashing yellow lights.
Those groups opposed to some of the measures in the improvement plan for Memorial Field have some time to marshal their opposition while the Village of Glen Ellyn seeks grant funding from the DuPage County Mayors and Managers. In December the Village was denied the funding, which would have provided about 30 percent of the cost of the road projects. The village board was seeking federal assistance for the remaining 70 percent of the funding. The village can reapply for the local grant this year.