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Wood Dale leaders hope improved Metra station will spur development
By Elisabeth Mistretta | Daily Herald Staff

Artist rendering of the $1.27 million reconstructed Metra station in Wood Dale slated to be complete by winter 2009-10.

 

Courtesy of FBG Corporation

Workers already are blocking off space for construction that will begin soon on a new Metra station in Wood Dale. The groundbreaking is set for June and the project should be complete by the end of winter 2010.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

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Published: 5/22/2009 10:10 AM

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Wood Dale is moving ahead this week with the $1.27 million reconstruction of its Metra station, which Mayor Ken Johnson threatened to veto earlier this spring.

Officials said they hope the project will spur retail and housing development in downtown, which encompasses the half-mile radius around the train depot. The new station, designed in a metro-prairie style, will include a coffee shop and restrooms.

Last March, Johnson hoped to delay construction and wait for possible federal funding in April through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Some city council members voiced skepticism the project was eligible for the aid, and they approved it in March with no veto from Johnson.

"I am disappointed federal funding didn't happen, but it's a worthy enough project to move forward," Johnson said. "We need a shot in the arm like a lot of people do right now."

The council secured about $350,000 in 2006 from homebuilders working in the city to help fund the improvements to the station, which the city leases from Metra for $10 a year. Taxpayers will shoulder the other $900,000.

Currently, a handicapped-accessible trailer is on site to serve as a temporary station for waiting commuters. Some parking spaces are blocked off, but Wood Dale officials say this will not produce a problem.

"Parking should not be impacted because there is a surplus of space," Community Development Director John Forrest said.

Handicapped parking spots have been relocated, but they are still the closest to the station, Forrest added.

Officials say a groundbreaking for the new station is tentatively scheduled for June 9, while the project should be complete by this winter. Johnson said he hopes the revamped train station will attract developers to construct mid-rise residential buildings with commercial retail on the first floor, along with cafe-style restaurants.

"I think it will add character to our downtown," he said.