Some Lincoln Park residents have raised concerns about changes in parking and traffic patterns that would result from the proposed Kenmore Green project to expand the DePaul campus.
The project includes the closure of the 2300 block of Kenmore Avenue between Belden and Fullerton avenues in Lincoln Park and a loss of 47 free parking spaces.
DePaul owns the property in that block of Kenmore, which does not have any parking meters or permit restrictions.
The unregulated parking on that street is not working well for anyone right now, said Paul Sajovec, chief of staff for Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), who suggested taking a fresh look at parking regulations.
Public transportation needs to be encouraged, he said. The free parking encourages students and faculty to drive to campus, but there are alternatives, he said.
Students seek out the free street parking because they don’t want to pay, said Allan Mellis, a director for Wrightwood Neighbors Association. There is parking on Kenmore and in the surrounding area when DePaul is not in session, he said.
“It is very clear that it is students taking up the parking spots,” he said.
DePaul funded traffic studies conducted by KLOA, a traffic and transportation planning and engineering firm, in March and May of 2008 and 2012, finding that only 1 percent of the people parking on Kenmore are neighborhood residents.
The study, which consisted of a temporary closure of Kenmore, found that most of the traffic was diverted onto Sheffield or Clifton avenues.
Mellis said he and his wife worry that if Kenmore is closed, there is a possibility of DePaul proposing other street closures.
Sajovec, the 32nd Ward staffer, agreed.
“Just because they don’t have plans now doesn’t mean they won’t later,” he said.
Several years ago, the university closed a section of Seminary Avenue to build a quadrangle for the campus, said Mellis. DePaul had a lot to gain from that project, but the community didn’t, he said.
There is even less of a benefit for both parties with Kenmore Green, he said.
DePaul faculty could not be reached for comment on the effects the project will have on the community or to discuss its intentions and goals with the expansion.
Construction of the Kenwood Green space would consist of curb removal, brick laying and greening, according to Sajovec. Neighbors have expressed little to no concern about construction, he said, as there are other projects already in the works including the building of a new university theatre.
As for the traffic concern, Mellis suggested decreasing parking fares at the Clifton garage to encourage more DePaul students and faculty to park there rather than on the streets. With lower costs and higher occupancy, the garage’s revenue would still increase, he said. That is if people would choose to park there.
Looking at the Chicago Department of Transportation study, there is really no impact in traffic other than seasonal implications, said Sajovec.
He said Ald. Waguespack’s office, DePaul community development faculty and community members need to meet together to discuss the possibilities of the project to try and find a solution where everyone involved is content.
There is currently no timetable for when decisions need to be made for the go-ahead on the project.