Saturday, October 27, 2007

Take Five This Week

This has been the week of “I’ll be five minutes late” meetings.

Construction on Chicago Street this week caused more than a few of my appointments to call and say they would be five minutes late. The tension in their voices was even louder than the jackhammers in the background.

For those of us who work downtown, the loud machinery and the flying dust is part of the job. We wave to the construction guys. We leap over chunks of concrete on the sidewalk. We calm people down over the phone as they try to get to our meetings. And we remind ourselves that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

But for those of you who only frequent downtown for occasional meetings and trips to the post office, do not despair. There’s help out there for you.

The City of Elgin has a website called “Gettin’ Around in Downtown” that is devoted to the Central Business District Streetscape Project. You can access it from the city’s homepage at There you can learn all about the streetscape project and see video and images of what our revitalized downtown will look like. You’ll also find weekly construction updates, detour routes and the best places to park.

So for your own sanity’s sake, before you come downtown, check the Construction Updates area of the website. It will make those five extra minutes it takes to get to where you need to go much more enjoyable.

My suggestion is to park in one of the garages on Symphony Way, Spring Street or Fulton Street or in the civic lot on Douglas and walk to your destination. It will give you a chance to see the construction progress up close. Take a gander at S. Grove Street where the new brick pavers, sidewalks, street lights and curbs are in. You might even see the first crop of people moving into the new Fountain Square condos.

And while you’re down here, you might as well stop and have some lunch. Akina’s Thai Restaurant is just a hop, skip and a jump across the rubble from Fountain Square. I recommend the Paht Takrai (Lemon Grass Stir-Fry). You get to choose how spicy you want your dish prepared. I’m a two-star “medium” girl myself, but if you’re feeling crazy, go for the five-star “suicide.”

And don’t forget, you have to pick up that gift for so-and-so for that thing this weekend. So stop by that charming new little Lily Falls Gift Boutique at 10 Douglas. Say hi to Vicki for me.

On your way back to the parking garage you may see people in their cars making calls saying they’ll be five minutes late and looking all out of sorts about it. But you’re feeling good, because you’ve seen first hand all of the progress that those five minutes out of your day is bringing to downtown Elgin.


Tonya Hudson is the executive director of the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin, a volunteer-driven coalition that supports the revitalization of downtown Elgin. She is a lifelong Elgin resident, a graduate of Judson University, a wife and a new mom. You can stop in and see Tonya at the DNA office on the first floor of the Tower Building at Chicago and Douglas or send her an email at

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