HYDE PARK — Should visitors leaving the Museum of Science and Industry be faced with a "Do Not Enter" sign at the first intersection heading into Hyde Park proper?
The South East Chicago Commission has launched a survey asking Hyde Parkers how 57th Street should be improved — including possibly reopening the 57th Street and Stony Island intersection to westbound traffic.
The idea of permanently raising the gates into Hyde Park at 57th Street has been floated periodically, last in 2008, since the street was made one-way more than 50 years ago during the urban renewal program that transformed many of the neighborhood streets.
In 2008, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), the University of Chicago, business owners and homeowners on 57th Street were all interested in the idea, and the Chicago Department of Transportation studied the issue and determined it was feasible. But the plan died when the groups couldn’t reach a consensus.
Hairston is again on board for the conversation, but CDOT and the University of Chicago are sitting on the sidelines while the SECC, a community development group with strong ties to the university, checks the pulse of the neighborhood.
Mike Claffey, a spokesman for CDOT, said the idea of reopening the intersection to two-way traffic, has not yet been broached with city planners.
The SECC is asking the question as part of an initiative to figure out how to brand Hyde Park’s quaintest commercial corridor feeding into the U. of C. campus. The corridor houses such students staples as Medici restaurant, among other businesses.
The question on 57th Street is lodged between items about bringing new lighting similar to those installed on the Midway Plaisance, maps and banners to the street.
The survey, available on the SECC website, will be used to help craft a plan for how to brand 57th Street as a “cultural commerce connection.”
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