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Edgewater Metra Station in 2015 Excites Neighbors Despite Parking Concerns

 Ae Lee and her husband work the dirt at a community garden that would need to be removed to make way for a new Metra station on Ridge Avenue.
Ae Lee and her husband work the dirt at a community garden that would need to be removed to make way for a new Metra station on Ridge Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

EDGEWATER — Residents living near the Metra tracks at Ridge and Peterson avenues are bracing for big change to their neighborhood life.

With construction to begin in 2015, the new $10 million station planned for the area would offer a convenience nowhere to be seen in the western reaches of Edgewater: Quick public transportation downtown.

Ben Woodard details the new Edgewater Metra station and who (thought not many) isn't happy:

"We are excited because our nearest stations are either at Lawrence or up in Rogers Park," said Sharon Metzger, president of one of the area's neighborhood groups. She said the nearest Red Line station is a mile to the east.

The only other option is a slow-moving bus, she said.

 Renderings and a site plan of a proposed Metra station at Peterson and Ravenswood avenues show a warming station and extra parking.
Peterson Metra Station
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"A lot of people who work Downtown are excited to hop on the Metra," she said.

But neighbors have also expressed concern that commuters would overload side streets as they park for the day.

Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said plans called for 44 paid parking spaces at the station and six drop-off spots for commuters getting a ride there. There will be 40 spots for bikes, too.

"We expect many users of the station to walk or ride bikes to get there," he said. "We also expect many users to use the existing CTA [bus] routes to get to the station."

Lisa Hand, president of the neighborhood's West Edgewater Area Residents association, said "there are some neighborhood concerns — but nothing that can't be overcome."

Hand said she and other residents have been requesting more information about the effect the station would have on parking and what would happen to a community garden at the future site of the station that has been used for years by residents of the neighboring Chicago Housing Authority senior home.

The CHA Board of Commissioners two weeks ago approved the sale of the land to Metra for $1.11 million.

"My mind is sad," said Ae Lee, a resident of the senior home, in broken English. "My flowers, all flowers, every season they bloom."

While tilling the wet soil Monday, preparing it for squash seeds, Lee said "many people enjoy" the garden.

But Metzger said the CHA and Metra plans to relocate at least a portion of the garden to the southern end of the site, near Peterson, and install raised garden beds and a water source.

Metzger said the soil where the gardens are now wasn't safe.

"The soil over there is not good soil, it's not healthy soil," she said.

The neighborhood groups and Ald. Pat O'Connor's 40th Ward office are also mulling the option to instate permit parking on the residential streets surrounding the site of the future station.

Tim Czarnecki, O'Connor's chief of staff, said they would wait "until after it's built" to determine whether permit parking would be necessary.