$100,000 donation and one-of-a-kind art installation earns Ouilmette Way approval from village board


Ouilmette Way is officially underway after approval by Wilmette Village Council on Tuesday evening.

The transformation of the downtown lanes is a flagship community project as part of the Village’s 150th anniversary celebrations throughout 2022.

Ouilmette Way, which officials have been discussing and tweaking since late 2021, will create a shared path that will connect the city’s Metra station to the heart of its downtown core.

In approved plans, the project will revise the driveway adjoining the Baker Building to the south, from Wilmette Avenue to 12th Street. The upgraded roadway – for an estimated total cost of $563,045 – will also include an improved crosswalk at 12th Street, a raised 6-foot-wide pedestrian segment, resetting of current cobblestones, new lighting and walkway signage. at each end.

The price of the project exceeded the December estimate by $539,000. Village officials said the inflation affected many aspects of the bids, including materials, transport, fuel, etc.

Village administrators supported a staff recommendation for Concept B, a less expensive plan (-$172,000) that uses street pole lighting instead of scalloped ceiling lighting.

The Village, however, is only expected to take a $343,000 hit thanks to contributions from two private parties: Optima, which provided the Village with $120,000 in streetscape funds as a condition of its five-story project at downtown Wilmette; and North Shore Country Bank, which is donating $100,000 to the project as part of a donation announced at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The North Shore Community Bank is proud to be part of the Wilmette community and proud to support the Ouilmette Alley project,” said Cathy Pratt, president of the bank, in a statement. “As a welcoming gateway to the village, the project will serve as a continuing reminder of the village’s sesquicentennial celebration and will benefit Wilmette residents for generations to come.”

The walkway will also feature a unique form of street art in which light and images will be projected onto special masonry on either side of the walkway.

Julie Wolf, a sesquicentennial committee member and former Wilmette trustee, said a contract is in the works with the same artist who designed the Kohlights Christmas lights at the Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview and the Chicago Bridges project, which will illuminated 11 bridges along the Chicago River. Although she did not name the artist, she was referring to Tracey Dear from Dear Productions.

“It will be a first of its kind. There will be nothing like it on the North Shore,” said Jodi Mariano, of Teska Associates, architects behind the Ouilmette Way project.

The village expects construction to begin in July and Ouilmette Way to begin in August ahead of the community’s sesquicentennial on September 10.

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