Wilmette residents say traffic problem at Baha'i worsening

Wilmette residents living near the iconic Baha'i House of Worship, pictured here, tell village officials that parking congestion on their street is growing worse.

Wilmette residents living near the Baha'i House of Worship gathered at Village Hall recently, voicing concerns that a proposal to reconfigure the iconic venue's parking lot could ramp up traffic on what they say is an already-congested local street.

Despite a negative recommendation from the village's Zoning Board of Appeals, the Wilmette Village Board voted 5-1 in favor of granting a request from Baha'i officials to eliminate six of its regular parking spots in its visitors lot to accommodate bus parking and to make room for an Americans with Disability Act-required accessible ramp and parking spaces.

Scott Conrad, project manager for the Baha'i House of Worship, said the increase in the number of vehicles parked on Linden Avenue partly is related to the closure of the parking lot since 2011, which was prompted by a Metropolitan Water Reclamation District project to reconstruct the sanitary canal and Wilmette Pumping Station.

The district owns the parking lot land, which is leased by the Baha'i, Conrad said.

{josquote}When you live near the temple, you start to think of it as an attractive nuisance.{/josquote}

But Wilmette resident Martin Dawson said parking-related headaches on Linden have been a chronic problem for years, and predate both the water reclamation project as well as the recent construction of a 16,000 square-foot, Prairie-style Baha'i Welcome Center, which is slated to open in the fall.

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