Village officials have agreed to sign onto the Sierra Club's Illinois Cool Cities Sustainability Agreement, officially designating Tinley Park as a "Cool City."
Local resident Jeff Mech approached officials about the program after hearing a Cool Cities presentation in December.
Lonnie Morris, program coordinator for the state of Illinois, praised the village for several environmentally-friendly steps it has taken in the past few years. The village "took a major step in promoting walkability and bikeability" by passing a Complete Streets Policy in 2012 and approving an Active Transportation Plan, she said..
Morris also singled out the village's 167th Street project, with designated bike lanes and shared roads, as an example of good planning. The Chicago Metropolitan Area Planning Agency has used that project as a "case study," she said, and the village engineer said the project "can serve as a model for future projects that intend to take a 'Complete Streets' philosophy of design."
The approach is meant to encourage roads that are accessible for everyone, from bicyclists to motorists.
The sustainability agreement calls for Tinley Park to endorse complete streets and bicycle-friendly transit options as well as local food production and consumption through farmer's markets, village officials said.
Being environmentally-friendly is important to the village, said Mayor Ed Zabrocki.
"The best example of that is Panduit," he said, which is an exporting company headquartered in the village. Officials frequently tout the company's local offices as a model due to the fact that the building is certified Gold by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
Morris said the Cool Cities initiative is meant to show environmental change can start at the community level. There are, at last count, 59 Cool Cities in Illinois, including suburbs from all around the Chicagoland area. Some of the more prominent examples include Oak Park, Joliet, Des Plaines, Elgin and Evanston. Chicago, Springfield and Rockford are also Cool Cities.
Trustee Tom Staunton said protecting the environment is critical for the planet's survival.
"This is our Earth. We need to keep it as long as we can," Staunton said. "Not just (for) our lifetime, but (for) future generations."