The Village of Glen Ellyn, nationally recognized by the Arbor Foundation as Tree City USA for 35 years in a row, is making a once-in-a-generation investment in its downtown by renewing and expanding its celebrated urban forest – all part of a downtown Glen Ellyn streetscape project. The streetscape will create a more sustainable and accessible place where businesses thrive, people gather for events and connect with their neighbors.
The second phase of the project launched in late 2019. During this phase, important decisions about several key elements of the downtown streetcape plan are made. This includes building material and design, street furnishings and tree type, quantity and placement. The result of this phase will be a set of construction-ready drawings. The Village will use those drawings to go out to bid for phase three: construction. Underground utility construction will begin in 2021; streetscape construction is anticipated to begin in 2022 and conclude in 2023.
Project timeline courtesy: Civiltech Engineering
One of the key elements in downtown is the collection of trees, called the urban forest. Trees have a host of aesthetic and psychological benefits. Studies show they are good for retail business as they encourage shoppers to spend time in retail districts. In addition, they provide key environmental benefits.
There are currently 109 parkway trees in downtown Glen Ellyn. The mix of trees in downtown is largely the same – 66 percent are either Honeylocust or Callery Pear – and 49 percent of downtown’s trees are in poor condition due to age, disease and lack of growing space. The planned streetscape construction is a chance to proactively replace these trees, but more importantly, add trees on streets in the downtown that currently do not have any.
The new trees will be placed 2 to3 feet further away from buildings to allow for the possibility of wider sidewalks. Each tree will be individually placed to try to avoid conflicting with a car door or a storefront door. Many of the trees will be planted in soil cells which allow for large amounts of soil under the pavement for roots to grow. Raised curbs around the new trees will keep salt away from the tree, and new irrigation systems will ensure trees have sufficient water supply.
A rendering showing the suspended pavement technology planned for Downtown, allowing for larger space soil cell for the new trees.
The design team has identified several areas in downtown where new trees can be added. The final design will include between 175 to 225 new trees, essentially doubling the number of trees in downtown.
The new streetscape design will aim to create an ideal tree mix of no more than 10 percent of any one species of tree to protect against disease and bugs.
Anna Ball, Glen Ellyn resident and CEO of Ball Horticultural, says: “My mother was one of the volunteers that oversaw the planting of the current trees we have in the downtown area. At that time, the importance of diversity was not well understood, so she promoted the planting of her favorite tree, the Honeylocust. Now, we know we need to plant a wide diversity of trees so we can withstand future attacks of pests and diseases.”
The project team will be at events in Glen Ellyn throughout spring and summer, giving residents and business owners a chance to learn more about the planned work.
For more information, visit the project website.