The recently adopted Crystal Lake and Pingree Road Station Area Strategic Action Plan aims to improve mobility options and encourage development in the largest community in McHenry County. Crystal Lake is an important hub for the county and the region, and home to two Metra stations on the Union Pacific Northwest line – one in downtown Crystal Lake and one on Pingree Road. The plan, supported by the RTA Community Planning program, illustrates how both station areas could develop over the next ten years and outlines strategies that address multi-modal transportation issues and land use improvements.
Residents and stakeholders alike said they wanted a community that prioritizes growth, access to amenities, and a multimodal system that allows for the safety and efficient movement of vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. Residents and stakeholders also noted that they desired a system that fosters sustainable economic vitality ensuring Crystal Lake remains an attractive place to live and work. Recommendations in the plan focus on the economic development potential of sites near each station area.
Within the Crystal Lake Station Area, the plan envisions redevelopment concepts for two sites. The first area is located on land bordered by Walkup Avenue, Minnie Street, and Woodstock Street. The second site is a larger underutilized area bordered by Main Street and Brink Street. This site, in the heart of downtown, is reimagined with several mid-rise, mixed-use buildings that could expand the downtown’s inventory of commercial space while simultaneously increasing the housing stock. A central open space is proposed on North Main Street, which would make the area more walkable, provide communal green spaces, outdoor dining spaces, and greater connectivity throughout the entire site.
These redeveloped sites would also provide gathering or “third” spaces (outside of a person’s home or work) which can contribute to a community’s identity.
The plan also recommends addressing gaps in the city’s sidewalk network, filling a gap in the Prairie Path Trail near downtown to improve multimodal access to the station area, and pursuing additional redevelopment opportunities. It also suggests expanding bicycle parking and reevaluating the demand for vehicle parking near the Crystal Lake Metra station. Prior to COVID-19, commuter parking at this station was only 62% utilized.
The Pingree Road Station Area — with easy access to Feinburg Park, the Prairie Path Trail, and a growing business park — offers access to key amenities and employment opportunities for residents. The plan outlines steps for redevelopment of a 62-acre property near the station called Main Street Crossing that would include both commercial and residential use. The site could also include a central open space that would include stormwater retention and recreation opportunities in addition to a trail network that improves access to the Metra station. Additional recommendations for the Pingree Road Station Area include completing sidewalk gaps and adding wayfinding and directional signals to direct users to downtown Crystal Lake and the Prairie Path Trail.
Implementation of the vision established in the Crystal Lake and Pingree Road Stations Strategic Action Plan can both improve transit access and help the community achieve its goals. The plan was supported by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Community Planning program, which offers technical assistance and funding to local governments to address local planning needs that intersect public transportation and land use to connect people to the regional transit system
All completed projects from the RTA Community Planning program can be found on RTAMS, the Regional Transportation Authority Mapping and Statistics website.