Lincolnwood says ‘no’ to funding safety lights, since they’d be in Skokie – Chicago Tribune

Lincolnwood officials love the idea, but are not willing to split the cost with Skokie of installing flashing safety lights on Valley Line Trail, a recreational trail for pedestrians and bicyclists, as it crosses a major thoroughfare.

The neighboring village reached out to Lincolnwood to ask for $25,000 to cover the cost of erecting rapid rectangular flashing beacons, or RRFBs, as the trail crosses Lincoln Avenue just outside of Lincolnwood.

The project will cost $50,000 and be constructed entirely in the village of Skokie, said Brendon Mendoza, assistant to the public works director in Lincolnwood. The beacons are similar to ones installed on Valley Line Trail at Pratt Avenue, Mendoza said.

“They’re designed to improve pedestrian safety,” Mendoza said. “Skokie has designed it and is moving forward with it. The improvements are completely out of Lincolnwood in the corporate limits of Skokie, but would impact users of the trail from the north side of Lincolnwood.”

Lincolnwood Trustee Atour Sargon said funding a project in Skokie would set a bad precedent and invite other neighboring communities to ask Lincolnwood to share in the cost of projects outside the village.

“I’m glad Skokie is moving forward with the project,” Sargon said. “I am supportive of the project. Of course it will enhance the safety of all people using the trails and paths. However, I’m not in favor of budgeting and paying for projects outside of Lincolnwood’s boundaries.”

Trustee Craig Klatzco called it “wonderful” that Skokie has agreed to install the beacons as it has in other locations in the village.

“But I don’t feel it’s right in spending our funds in Skokie,” Klatzco said. “If we touched Skokie, like we do in Chicago on Devon (Avenue), but it is not our property. If it was half ours, I could see it, but I can’t see doing our funding for that.”

Skokie spokesman Patrick Deignan issued a statement in response to Lincolnwood’s informal decision during its Committee of the Whole meeting June 4.

“The village of Skokie greatly values its strong relationship with the village of Lincolnwood and will continue to communicate and collaborate on projects of mutual interest,” Deignan said.

The current plans to improve the crossing were developed over several years of discussion between Skokie and Lincolnwood, “which have a shared interest in enhancing safety along the trail,” he said.

Joe Bystron, a Chicago resident who was riding the trail at the proposed site earlier this month, said the proposed beacons are a good idea.

“It would be useful,” Bystron said. “It’s always helpful, especially with kids. When my kids were younger, I had them get off the bike. A lot of kids don’t do that now, and they can fall and things like that. And also, you do sometimes hear the cars revving up and going super fast.”

Lincolnwood Trustee Jean Ikezoe-Halevi said she agreed that her village should not fund a project outside its boundaries.

Ikezoe-Halevi also raised concerns about legal issues that might arise by entering into a contract with another municipality for a project outside Lincolnwood’s borders.

Assistant Village Manager Charles Meyer said Lincolnwood frequently enters into such agreements and the Skokie proposal would not cause any legal concerns.

“The question was raised, but I don’t think there was concern with it,” Meyer said. “The (intergovernmental agreement) would cover any liability with that.”

Meyer is set to become the village manager of Morton Grove next month.

Because Lincoln Avenue is a state-owned roadway, the Illinois Department of Transportation is currently reviewing the project proposal, Deignan said. If the current plans are approved, construction will likely occur this fall, he said.

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