By Vito Defrancesco
The Chicago suburb of Bartlett, Illinois, is a constantly evolving community that is home to over 40,000 residents and growing. It is a considerably safe community with very low crime and relatively good employment status among residents. There is a wide variety of schools ranging from preschool to community college located throughout the community in order to accommodate all residents. Even neighboring suburbs accommodate certain residents depending on where they are located in the town of Bartlett in order for students to have the convenience of a school close to home. The school system provides good education for all residents and prepares students for higher education and beyond. Although Bartlett is a relatively large community, it still has a small town vibe to it which makes it welcoming to residents and visitors
There are approximately 380 acres of park space available to the public which also includes the Apple Orchard Community Park located in the heart of the community. Among these parklands are several accommodations for a wide variety of recreational activities and sports. The highlight of the Apple Orchard Community Park is the 18 hole golf course which is open to the public. The Bartlett Trail is an expansive path that is fourteen miles and counting since there is an additional mile added to the trail each year, in order to eventually connect the regional bike trail system. Bartlett is a relatively bike-friendly community, but could definitely use some improvements to compare favorably to communities such as Madison, Wisconsin. The Bartlett Park District is always hosting and planning events as well as cultural events to get the entire community involved. The local community center offers a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pool, accommodations for recreational activities and sports, and even event hosting. The community center is open to the public but most services either require a membership or can only be used at an additional cost.
Farmers markets are also established throughout the community on a seasonal basis in order to help support local farmer’s and the local food market. Farmer’s markets provide a great opportunity to eat organically grown produce. Most markets also offer meats that are raised humanely as well as handmade cheeses, free-range chicken and eggs, and even local specialties that cannot be purchased elsewhere. The markets provide quality produce that is grown locally and grown with less preservatives and toxins. As I noted in my Fall 2013 blog post, the farmer’s markets in Bartlett are usually seasonal but are predominately available during the summer months ().
Transportation is available throughout the community and services that are not directly available within Bartlett are available in neighboring communities. The services that are available within Bartlett include METRA, PACE, and RTA. The METRA station is located in downtown Bartlett and provides transportation to downtown Chicago as well as surrounding suburbs. The advantage of having public transportation available to neighboring suburbs is reducing the amount of vehicles on the road which helps reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gasses. Although there is not an AMTRAK station directly located within Bartlett, the closest station is located in Naperville. All public transportation systems provide affordable ticket prices and reasonable travel options that can accommodate commuters with all types of schedules.
Although there are a decent amount of public transit options located directly in Bartlett, the primary method of transportation is by car because most residents are not close to the METRA station. Alternative forms of transportation could be used such as going by bike or even carpooling, but for most residents this is not an option. But for residents who are able to get around by bike or reach public transit stops, Bartlett has made it easy for bikers to get around town, especially with several bike paths and biker friendly sidewalks. Nevertheless, Bartlett still has room for improvement when it comes to making the community more bike-friendly.
Pollution levels and air quality trends are broken down into different categories which are individually measured and compared to the United States as a whole in order to determine how to improve the air quality and pollution trends. The Air Quality Index(AQI) and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), and Particulate Matter (PM2.5) levels for Bartlett are about average, while other levels such as Carbon Monoxide (CO), Lead (Pb), Ozone, and Particulate Matter (PM10) are above average and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels are considerably below average. But considering the fairly large population size and the majority of residents travel with a personal vehicle, the overall pollution levels and air quality are actually very well maintained (see http://www.city-data.com/city/Bartlett-Illinois.html).
The three central public works programs that are responsible for maintaining the community as well as improving the way the community functions consist of the street maintenance, water, and sewer programs. Each of the separate but integral programs are constantly improving in order to efficiently manage their assigned responsibilities which ultimately make Bartlett a clean and safe place to live.
Workers that are in the water program are responsible for maintaining and operating the entire water system throughout Bartlett. The water division consists of seven wells, five elevated storage towers, two ground storage reservoirs, and a pump station for water purchased from the City of Elgin. Recent efforts from the waste water treatment plant include the replacement of the existent three inefficient pumps with four completely brand new efficient pumps.
The street maintenance program is the largest of the three programs and has several responsibilities which include street patching and paving, snow plowing and salting, street light and roadway sign replacement, and so on. The sewer division is comprised of 20 sewage lift stations, two excess flow facilities, and even managing part of the water division in order to increase productivity. The treated organic matter that is extracted from the sewage is biologically stabilized and then hauled away by a private contractor. The private contractor then recycles the organic matter by selling it to farmer’s to naturally fertilize farmland.
Public works also offers free leaf pickup for residents as long as it is in a brown paper lawn bag. It does not have to be the designated Republic Services Waste bags, just as long as it is not stored in plastic bags. The reason why the village has made the leaf pickup service free is because the village has banned leaf burning due to the harm it does to the environment and for precautionary reasons as well. On the other hand, grass and other lawn scraps have to be put in the designated Republic Services Waste bags in order to essentially pay for the pickup service. The public works programs are always adopting sustainable methods in order to maximize efficiency and reduce costs whenever the opportunity is available in order to improve the quality of life for residents (see http://www.village.bartlett.il.us/pw/pw.html).
Overall, Bartlett is a well-established suburb and provides a great standard of living for all of its residents. I am proud to say that I was born and raised in Bartlett and enjoy going back home to visit. The school system in Bartlett has provided me with a great education and has helped me prepare for higher education and beyond. The public works programs and the village work hard to provide a clean and safe living environment. The public works programs also strive to make their methods more environmentally efficient as well as improving work efficiency. The parks program provides plenty of park space to accommodate various recreational activities and interests. The parks program also offers plenty of events for all ages in order to keep the community involved and active.
Although the sustainable efforts in Bartlett are being implemented in several instances, the main problem that still needs to be addressed is transportation. Although there are a fair amount of public transit options such as METRA, PACE, and RTA (as well as an AMTRAK station located in Naperville) residents still have to drive to most of these stations in order to take advantage of them. Until a public transit system such as the CTA is implemented throughout the Bartlett or even other suburbs, then the main method of transportation will still be by a personal vehicle.
AMTRAK. Retrieved from : http://www.amtrak.com/home
Bartlett Park District. Retrieved from: http://www.bartlettparkdistrict.com/
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Retrieved from: http://www.transitchicago.com/
METRA Rail. Retrieved from: http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home.html
PACE. Retrieved from: http://www.pacebus.com/
Regional Transportation Authority. Retrieved from: http://www.rtachicago.com/
Republic Services. Retrieved from: http://www.republicservices.com/Corporate/home.aspx
Banner photo: Bartlett IL train station, c. 2011