Two sides to development in New Lenox
By Evan Goranson email@example.com April 6, 2012 10:16PM
Updated: May 9, 2012 9:50AM
To visit a Portillo’s restaurant is to experience food service efficiency at its best. From outside order takers getting the jump on the drive-through line, to the visible creation of each meal along an assembly line that would make Henry Ford proud, Portillo’s has its act together.
So does New Lenox. In a time when much local development has come to a long and painful halt, New Lenox has celebrated the opening of a new Wal-Mart, Aldi, Culver’s, White Castle, Silver Cross Hospital, Goodwill and now, Portillo’s. A two-acre outlot by Target, next to Chili’s, soon will be home to outsized fries, hot dogs and chopped salad. Mayor Tim Baldermann is right to call this latest plum a “big win.”
Such progress is not without its costs. I personally grieved the loss of open space to make way for the Wal-Mart development. “Pave paradise and put up a parking lot!” That, however, has not stopped me from shopping there, and for topping off the experience with a meal at Culver’s.
Often, while waiting for the light to change near Chili’s and Target, I have noticed the neat and tidy ranch home directly to the west. It is the home that progress has swallowed. On one side, Target/Chili’s, on the other, a new townhome development. The home now looks out of place, dropped from another era, stuck in a time warp.
It turns out, this is the home of David and Helen Martin. Portillo’s will be squeezed in right next door. Helen spoke up at a recent meeting concerning the new Portillo’s development plan. She is concerned that noise from the restaurant will not be stopped by the planned 2-foot retaining wall, 6-foot fence and shrubs.
I am sure Helen is right. The bushes and fence won’t stop the smells either — at least the prevailing winds are from the west.
I imagine it is hard to see your home surrounded by development outside your control.
People who have lived in New Lenox for a long time remember when Lincoln Highway was a lazy thoroughfare with little traffic. Those days are gone. Soon the new and improved Route 30 will channel even more shoppers, stores and development to our region.
Meanwhile, Portillo’s might consider whether the Martins like hot dogs and salad. How about one meal a week, on the house, for life? It would seem like the neighborly thing to do.
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