Barrington Village Unveils Plans for Proposed Park Avenue Plaza with Outdoor Dining, Gathering, Green Space

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Today the Village of Barrington unveiled proposed concept plans for Park Avenue Plaza, a community gathering space and al fresco dining opportunity they hope to create in downtown Barrington. To do so, they’d permanently close a stretch of Park Avenue east of Cook Street, creating community space for outdoor dining and gathering with overhead string lights, Adirondack chairs, benches, open lawn, planters, landscaping, water fountains and additional pedestrian walkways.

Park Avenue Plaza would only impact parking directly outside McGonigal’s Pub, not the existing parking adjacent to the Metra train tracks where the Barrington Farmers Market used to be.

Village President, Karen Darch, says this would be a priority project they’d bring to life in the next couple of years should Village of Barrington voters approve the Home Rule Referendum on the ballot in the November 8th election. Early voting is already underway.

Village trustees, along with Karen Darch, say approval of Home Rule means the Village of Barrington could benefit from a projected $1-million+ increase in annual revenue from a 1% Home Rule Sales Tax that would NOT impact groceries, prescription drugs or auto sales. Instead, it would be paid, in part, by non-Village residents who patronize local restaurants and businesses. They’d use those funds to invest in roads, sidewalks, bike paths and beautification for the Village of Barrington, among other projects.

The proposed Park Avenue Plaza is one of many local improvements Village leaders hope to advance if voters approve the referendum which only about 43% of residents approved when it was last on the ballot back in 2014.

Want to know more about the impact of Home Rule locally? Here are 10 ways supporters believe it’ll improve life for those in and beyond the Village of Barrington.

  1. Greater Local Control
    Home Rule is a type of governance that gives municipalities greater authority to shape local solutions for local issues. Decisions are made by your local officials – your friends and neighbors you see at the grocery store – and not by the state.

  2. More Flexibility
    By law, Illinois communities are classified as either Home Rule or Non-Home Rule. While Non-Home Rule communities are subject to all state legislation and mandates (unfunded ones included), Home Rule communities may be more flexible in finding local solutions to local issues and are not as burdened by state-imposed mandates.

  3. Additional Funds for Local Improvements
    Home Rule creates the opportunity for more diverse revenue streams – also supported by non-residents – that would allow more funds to invest more in roads, sidewalks, bike paths and beautification for the Village of Barrington, among other projects. Much of the revenue would be spent on quality of life improvements.

    Municipalities with populations over 25,000 are automatically granted Home Rule status, while smaller communities put the question on a ballot and let voters decide. The Village of Barrington population is less than 25,000, so it must become Home Rule through referendum. 219 communities in Illinois are Home Rule, including Barrington Hills, South Barrington, Lake Barrington & Inverness. That means they already benefit from Home Rule status, while the Village of Barrington does not.

  5. No More Falling Behind
    Barrington Village President, Karen Darch says it’s time to have access to the same Home Rule revenue sources neighboring communities already benefit from. “We are falling behind in timely infrastructure maintenance. The roads aren’t getting done on the schedule we’d like,” Darch says. “We don’t have enough money to spend on the capital infrastructure which is why having the extra sales tax would be so important. When Village of Barrington residents go to other Home Rule communities and spend money, they’re paying that extra sales tax. Being able to charge non-Village residents when they come to town and use our roads and infrastructure would be a good revenue source for us.”

  6. Budget Savings
    Home Rule communities generally obtain higher bond ratings, allowing them to secure financing at lower interest rates, saving taxpayers money.

  7. Safer Community
    Home Rule communities may adopt and enforce their own “crime free” rental housing ordinances, reducing the risk of local crime. “In Barrington, 25% of the properties are rental,” Darch says. “We’ve had, over the years, some properties where you’ve had tenants engaging in behavior that – with Home Rule status – would allow us to have the landlord evict them under a Crime Free Housing Ordinance. It is a good tool when there are tenants dealing drugs or engaging in other criminal activity right here in our community.”

  8. No Real Estate Transfer Tax Increase Without Voter Approval
    A Home Rule community can not automatically introduce a tax on real estate transfers. A tax on a real estate transfer must be voted on in a separate referendum, even when a community is Home Rule.

  9. No Property Tax Increase Per Village Ordinance
    Village of Barrington trustees adopted Ordinance 2022-4214 this September stating they would abide by the state’s current non-Home Rule tax cap, which limits property tax increases to CPI or 5% annually, whichever is less.

  10. Voters Decide if Home Rule is Permanent
    The community has the ability to seek a referendum to return to non-Home Rule status.

Want more improvements to local amenities, infrastructure and safety? You can learn more about what Home Rule means at several upcoming Community Information Sessions hosted by the Village of Barrington. They are:

  • Tuesday, October 11th
    7:00 p.m. at Roslyn Road Elementary School (224 W. Roslyn Road Barrington)
  • Thursday, October 13th
    7:00 p.m., Virtual on Zoom
  • Monday, October 17th
    7:00 p.m. at Village Hall (200 S. Hough Street)
  • Thursday, October 27th
    7:00 p.m. at Hough Street School (320 S. Hough Street)
  • Thursday, November 3
    7:00 p.m. at Grove Avenue School (900 S. Grove Avenue)
  • Monday, November 7th
    7:00 p.m., Virtual on Zoom

You can also learn more at

About the Village of Barrington 

Located just 40 miles from downtown Chicago, the Village of Barrington offers unique access to both the big city hustle & bustle plus the scenic beauty of a charming village setting surrounded by a wide variety of destinations for indoor & outdoor recreation including The Catlow Theater, restaurants, cafes, shops, parks, forest preserves, horse and hiking trails. Learn more at


  1. “Paid in part by non-residents patronizing local restaurants and businesses” ? How do you differentiate between resident and non-resident ?

    • Non-residents are people who don’t live in the Village of Barrington but come to town to shop & dine. Residents are those who reside in the Village.

      • That doesn’t answer the question – does someone have to show an ID to demonstrate residency while shopping or eating? Will people even be asked, or will the new tax be applied by default and only removed upon request (and proof) that someone lives in the village?

        • No – all patrons would have to pay the extra sales tax, regardless of where they reside. But Village leaders say it would be a helpful way to collect revenue from non-Village residents who shop & dine in the Village of Barrington. Does that answer your question?

  2. So….. then in reality the residents of Barrington are also paying for this when they patronize the restaurants and businesses ? Misleading to say the burden is on the non-residents.

    • Yes, that’s correct. But Village leaders say it provides an opportunity to collect revenue for the Village from those who don’t live in the Village but come to town to shop and dine.

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