Grant to assist Robbins renewal project

Plan of Robbins Park proposal

“Creating Robbins Park: Village of Robbins, IL.” (2017)
Photo: Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Backed by funding from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, the University of Illinois at Chicago will join a partnership between the village of Robbins and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) to support the Southwest suburb’s revitalization and sustainability efforts.

The $50,000, 10-month grant will allow the UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs to lend project planning and management assistance to the Robbins Renewal and Resiliency Project, which aims to address environmental and economic issues in the community.

Robbins and the MWRD collaborated earlier to develop the infrastructure investment project, which centers on the creation of a stormwater park to alleviate flooding issues in the village. The plan calls for the conversion of approximately 140 acres from the floodplain to land suitable for development, such as a green industry district along the Cal-Sag Channel and a transit-oriented district near Metra’s 139th Street station.

“The grant will help UIC, in partnership with the village and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, to deliver technical and management expertise to help the village move the project forward, develop a long-term evaluation program, and build professional capacity and long-term financial support for the project,” said Moira Zellner, UIC associate professor of urban planning and policy and principal investigator on the grant.

Most of the grant will pay for a graduate student to serve as a project manager to oversee the planning of the project, engage residents and stakeholders in the planning process, and seek additional grant opportunities. The project manager will also coordinate communication between Robbins, the MWRD and other governmental agencies on the construction of phase one of the stormwater project, including the centennial boat launch and the diversion channel.

A modeling technician will be hired to assist in analytics and to develop a long-term evaluation program for the project.

Project partners Tyrone Ward, mayor of Robbins, and Michael Pagano, dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs and professor of public administration at UIC, will also provide direction and oversight.

“We envision this project as a stepping stone for a multi-year collaboration,” said Zellner, who is also research associate professor in the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy at UIC and director of the Urban Data Visualization Lab at UIC.

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