by Dave Noble, City News Editor
ELMHURST – Residents and business owners expressing feelings of “disgrace” and “embarrassment” during a Metra Station Workshop held at City Hall Wednesday night pleaded with local officials to disguise the increasingly “repulsive” views of Elmhurst that thousands of commuters see on a daily basis and requested an array of alluring and exotic upgrades to the city’s train station and surrounding elements to promote local shopping and incite jealousy from members of other communities.
In what was deemed as the “start to the planning and design process” for identifying potential upgrades to the depot building, platforms, and other features of the station, attendees at the workshop often focused more on what riders see from the train rather than what the 2,300 weekday boarders experience.
“We need a way to hide the mammoth Addison Street parking garage and anything else that looks like it was built in the last 30 years,” said lifelong Elmhurst resident Meredith Bruno, who stated that she last used the train in 1981 to attend a Blue Öyster Cult concert at the old Chicago Amphitheater. “I think they should throw a giant tarp over the parking garage so people will instead notice our long-standing core businesses like Ace Hardware and 7-Eleven.”
The number of retail vacancies seen by train riders – particularly the boarded-up storefront at the northwest corner of First and York streets – was another discussion point at the workshop. Representatives on hand from the professional design team CDM Smith listened to the concerns of residents and suggested a temporary “We Sell Guns!” sign for the high-visibility location to highlight a distinct Elmhurst shopping advantage.
Proposals to improve the train depot included turning “Pilot Pete’s Coffee and Treats” into a hookah lounge to attract more hipsters and Uber drivers to the area, and ambitious plans to expand the walkway underneath the train tracks into a dimly-lit maze with numerous dead ends and spaces for people to rest in privacy.
“I’m for anything that takes away from the humiliation I feel when I board the train each morning,” said Elmhurst resident and frequent Metra user Tim Miller. “I can tell that people are looking at me and thinking ‘You live here?’.”