Kick-Off Community Workshop Summary

Comprehensive Planning & A Look at Ottawa Today

The City of Ottawa held the Cultivate Ottawa Kick-Off Community Workshop during the City’s Plan Commission meeting on Monday, November 23rd at 7 pm. The meeting and workshop were held virtually over Zoom and were live broadcasted for the public.

To kick-off the workshop, Mike Hoffman (Project Manager, Teska) and Emma Swanson (Project Associate, Teska) opened up with a short presentation to introduce the comprehensive planning process. Noted highlights included introductory information about comprehensive plans, community demographics data, past planning efforts, and a brief overview of the key subareas.

Community Visioning Session: Live Poll + Candid Discussions

Following the presentation, everyone was asked to take out their phone and participate in a live poll focused on community visioning. The quick poll, which consisted of about 10 questions, allowed commission members and public participants to share some short thoughts about their community to get them thinking about their vision for Ottawa over the next few years.

After each question was answered, commissioners were encouraged to expand on the answers they provided in the quick poll so the team could better understand Ottawa’s perceived biggest strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities that should be considered and challenges that the City faces.

Following these first four questions, the poll transitioned into questions about the key subareas that the plan will address, focusing on the biggest opportunities and biggest challenges for each area. Additional thoughts and themes from the discussions are listed after each set of poll answers.



  • Diversify Housing Options
  • Mixed Use Housing
  • Convert older buildings into mixed use residential – especially along Main Street
  • Open Space along Illinois River
  • Pedestrian-friendly Improvements
  • Address downtown traffic issues – i.e. second bridge across Illinois River, LaSalle Street diversion
  • Capitalizing on regional location – i.e. millions of people a year come to Starved Rock
  • Creating a “destination downtown” – i.e. Holland, Michigan. What attracts people there? Branding and marketing? Attractions? Retail and restaurants?


  • Downtown traffic – 2002 Plan identified traffic in the downtown as a key issue
  • Finding funding for improvements and renovations
  • Floodplain & Flooding Issues
  • Local resistance to change – i.e. building owners
  • Retail hours – i.e. stores aren’t open on Sundays which is a major shopping/dining day
  • Educating the public about WHY we need to continue to update and improve Downtown

I-80/ IL Route 71 Interchange:


  • Logistics / Trucking
  • Hotel
  • Mixed Use Development with housing, retail and restaurants
  • Conservation Design – i.e. around Fox River Park


  • Varying existing uses
  • Area cannot support too large of a development
  • Location is somewhat disconnected from the core of the City

Norris (Route 6):


  • Signage & Wayfinding
  • Landscaping & Streetscaping
  • Commercial growth along Norris Drive – i.e. east and west of the Route 23 intersection


  • Disrupting existing residential neighborhoods – i.e. light pollution, thru-traffic
  • Traffic Patterns – i.e. illegal u-turns, alley and side street cut-throughs, train tracks
  • Business Lighting & Signage – Its hard to work around what already exists
  • Landscaping – the City has no inspection mechanism to make sure landscaping stays up-to-par