On Monday November 15th the Ready Set Wilmette team met with Wilmette’s Sesquicentennial Planning Committee to discuss themes being considered in the Village’s Comprehensive Plan. The discussion dug into several of the Comprehensive Plan themes and started with a question specifically aimed at the committee’s work, “What are the biggest changes to happen in Wilmette over the past few decades?” A summary of the workshop discussion is shared below.
How People Live
- People shopping online is a major change for everyone. In Wilmette, it has impacted businesses, yet some are doing well as Village residents have made the effort to “shop local” – particularly during the pandemic.
- Technology was noted as affecting the Village’s sense of community, as people can do more from their homes.
- A positive change was the shift toward interest in the environment and local growth in recycling and composting.
- Planning for transit-oriented development has taken root, as there are more multi story residential areas and activity downtown.
- Storms during the summer of 2009 were notable as turning attention to stormwater management, particularly in the western parts of Wilmette.
- The large decrease in the average size of families.
- Workplace opportunities becoming more available over the years have changed how families live, use, and enjoy their communities.
- Increased diversity was noted, seen mostly in the Asian American Pacific Islander and Jewish communities;
- As was the Village’s focus on becoming more welcoming to all people.
The discussion about community sustainability focused on things residents are looking for from their community and how the Village can remain vibrant. Thoughts from the group included the need to understand what young families are looking for and providing community resources as well as year-round events (not just during warm summer months). Discussion of community needs raised the importance of schools to existing and new families, as well as the need for affordably priced family-oriented housing.
Being more environmentally sustainable is a significant issue today and the group pointed out the need for action is not just at the national level, but that local communities are responsible for addressing environmental issues. Communities need to understand the importance of the issue to younger people and the expectation that everyone plays a role. Among the questions raised were, “What will be the impact on transportation be in the coming years? Fewer cars? More transit?”
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVENESS
The discussion about how to be a welcoming, diverse community was as much about questions as ideas. The importance of this theme for the community and its institutions was certainly noted, as was the need to understand how best to do this. The Village’s Human Relations Commission was noted as a resource for this theme (the Ready Set Wilmette team met with them on November 1st, 2021), which will be a discussion point throughout the Comprehensive Plan process.
HOUSING AND AFFORDABILITY
It was pointed out that housing availability and affordability are not to be thought of as the same. Housing may be available, but is not necessarily affordable. Smaller dwellings may be affordable, but they are not accommodating of families who may be looking to move to the Village. Part of this question is that the Village is losing “fixer upper” houses that are torn down and replaced with more expensive homes. Another part of the housing market to be considered are longtime residents downsizing as they become empty nesters and wanting to stay in the Village.
BUSINESS AND COMMERCE
A strong local economy is essential to serve the needs of residents and provide a tax base to support local amenities; these areas will certainly be addressed as part of the Comprehensive Plan. The group also noted the distinction between the strength of Wilmette business districts and there is more to these areas than just seeking change.