There were 36 members in attendance at this week’s meeting.  Andrew Hambleton, a mortgage banker, was the guest of Tom Nash.  Rob Bahan brought two guests, Mike D’Onofrio, the village’s Director of Community Development and Megan Pierce, Assistant to the Village Manager.  Winnetkan Meg Benson, the Executive Director at Chicago Volunteer Legal Service and active community member, was a guest of Wes Baumann.  Several other guests came in after the introductions were made. 
 
The club was reminded that next week our club would be holding its annual holiday luncheon with New Trier’s Swing Choir performing.  If you plan to bring a guest you should send an email to John Thomas as we will be served a special lunch.
 
President Thomas presented David Birkenstein with a “Paul Harris +2 Pin.”  Congratulations David, you are setting a great example!
 
Heidi Sibert announced that she is beginning her campaign to get every club member involved in this year’s Kids Against Hunger project.  This annual project involves the largest number of participants of any n our club sponsors and the results of the project impact more people that anything else we do.  The date for our food packing is March 12th, SAVE THE DATE!
 
Patti Van Cleave announced that a Foundation appeal letter has gone out to several hundred ‘Friends of Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Club.’ 
 
Happy Buck$ this week came from Tony Kambich, Robert Mardirossian, Ned Meisner and Barb Tubekis.
 
Rob Bahan introduced the day’s program – the status of the Village’s Downtown Master Planning process.  Rob turned most of the time over to Mike Blue, a village planner from Teska Associates, who is the project manager for the work in Winnetka.  Mike has had a 30-year career in urban planning including eleven years at City Planner for Highland Park; he has been a consultant for Teska for the past three years.  The village has a website so residents can follow the progress of the process – www.winnetkadowntownplan.com.  The first task that Teska has taken on is to assess the current conditions in Winnetka’s three business districts – Hubbard Woods, Downtown Elms street (both East and West sides) and Indian Hill.  Mike pointed out that the village’s first plan was created in the 1020s and that this type of planning is always an ongoing process.
 
There are a variety of land uses in the downtown area including Commercial, Retail and Residential.  Village planning is a case of managing change.  Change is a given for any area and the question is do we manage and plan for it or do we let it happen more haphazardly.  The median age of the village residents is 44 years old, which is about 10 years older than we find in the city of Chicago.  Generally as we age change becomes more difficult, this may pose a challenge for our village.  The process involves land use and zoning which can be can be controversial, as we have witnessed with the Winnetka One project that may occupy the former Fell property on Lincoln and Elm.  It was mentioned that the Winnetka One proposal is not part of Teska’s considerations.  One of the challenges that has existed for a number of years is how the downtown Post Office land should be developed.  
 
Another consideration in the planning process is the impact of transportation and parking.  A lot of variety in parking regulations leads to confusion and deters people from coming to the area.  Currently there are nine different parking regulations in the main downtown area.
 
A third area of consideration is safety due to moving vehicles and available parking.  How far people will walk after parking their cars is a question that developers need to factor into their decisions.  It seems that shoppers will walk a lot further at a place like Old Orchard than in local towns shopping areas.
 
While there are a few committees that are assigned to the task of working with the village and Teska, there are a number of ways for residents and businesses to follow and contribute ideas to the process.  Simply go to the website mentioned above for more details and stay tuned-in.
 
 
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