The Orchard Evangelical Free Church Receptive to Hickory Meadows Neighbors: Decides Against Parking Expansion


The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights has notified church members Sunday that the church no longer intends to pursue a parking lot expansion plan — responding to neighbors, who opposed to plans of the parking lot expansion that included demolition of several houses the church owns. The church also announced to members that most if not all of the homes owned by the church will remain intact. A press release today clarified that the church learned that their attempt to get about 250 cars off of public streets, which they thought neighbors would appreciate, was not preferred by neighbors who strongly opposed a parking lot expansion plan and the razing of homes to achieve that goal.

“We know we have the right to use our property to do what is best for the church, but what our neighbors think should always be considered.”

— Church Chairman John Clarkson

The $1 million parking lot project would have involved razing eight homes and a playground area the church already owned in the neighborhood of North Haddow Avenue, East Olive Street and North Douglas Avenue. The entire public street of Haddow Avenue, just north of Olive Street, also would have been eliminated to make room for parking spaces.

Earlier in October 2013, the church worked on an agreement with Arlington Heights School District 25 to use two school parking lots that will almost equal the 223 parking spaces that would have been constructed in the scrapped plan.

The Church Board revealed that they acknowledge a parking and traffic flow issue that is “difficult, dangerous, and often discouraging to visitors, the elderly, and to families with young children.”

Rather than use all of the land The Orchard Evangelical Free Church owns to provide more parking spaces, the church will pursue a strategy that focuses primarily on two key themes:

(1) Improved parking flow on Sunday mornings with development of a Parking Ministry to help oversee safe and effective traffic flow on Sunday mornings, which will be achieved with optimization of the spaces that are available on-site and off-site, and the development of a shuttle and valet services for those attendees who may need it.

(2) Enhancements to the existing church building to more effectively welcome regular attendees and guests, which will likely include updating and expanding the foyer, Welcome Center, The Orchard Cafe, and entryways, as well as making some improvements in the sanctuary. The church hopes to share the enhancement plans with internal remodeling details during the First Quarter of 2014.

The Church Board also announced to members that the natural capacity of the church building is around 1500. With a current attendance of 1300, the church believes it can serve the congregation best in two services. Starting January 5, 2014, The Evangelical Free Church will expand the schedule to two worship services on Sunday morning – one classic and one contemporary.

The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, originally the Arlington Heights Evangelical Free Church, has four campus locations: Arlington Heights, Barrington, Itasca, and Marengo. There are no plans for expanding the Arlington Heights campus with a larger sanctuary for more worshippers, or for expanding the overall footprint of the building itself. According to the press release, the Arlington Heights campus may still see an increase in attendees, but the strategy for overall growth will come from the new campuses in Itasca, which opened in 2010, and Barrington, which opened in 2011, and Marengo, which opened in 2013.

Since 1996, Colin Smith, the Senior Pastor at The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, is a respected author and has a nationally broadcast radio program, Unlocking the Bible, which is produced by Moody Bible Institute. He has been a frequent speaker at Moody Bible for Founder’s Week and has also made several appearances on the Total Living Network (TLN). He has written The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life, Unlocking the Bible Story: New Testament 4, Unlocking the Bible Story: Old Testament 2, and other books and workbooks.

Colin Smith, from Edinburgh, Scotland, holds the longest tenure as senior pastor in the history of the church.

See also …
The Cardinal Hickory Meadows Neighborhood Group Opposes Orchard Evangelical Free Church Parking Lot Expansion

The Cardinal OP-ED: Orchard Evangelical Free Church Should Be a Good Green Neighbor; Don’t Blacktop Homes in Hickory Meadows

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