Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Last Four Miles II

A spirited debate on the Friends of the Parks' proposal to build landfill parks to complete Chicago's open public access to the lake on the far north and south sides can be found at Blair Kamin's blog here.

You can find my take here:

Completing the Chicago lakefront park system is a wonderful idea.

It would benefit everyone in the city in my opinion, except of course the people who currently enjoy private access to the lake in the areas that would be affected.

The latter point is made entirely clear by Bill Savage and John Redell, two residents of high-rises along the lake in Rogers Park and Edgewater respectively.

Both men make very impassioned cases why the proposal is bad for the city. In reality however, most of their claims can be easily refuted. Consider the referenda held in Rogers Park and Edgewater that both men site, resulting in virtual unanimous opposition to the plan. They fail to mention that only residents along the lakefront in those communities were polled, not the entire communities. I'm not sure why anyone even bothered to go to the trouble of taking such a poll, it doesn't take a genius to predict the outcome of that one.

Elsewhere, the environmental impact of the landfill has been noted by Mr. Redell in his web site Certainly some of his claims are true, the dredging and landfill will no doubt increase silt and cause some disruption of the lakefront ecosystem. However I think it stands to reason that the long term benefits to wildlife, for example providing new arboreal cover to migrating and resident avian populations would more than compensate for any temporary disruption.

Some claims such as Mr. Savage's that we need to preserve Rogers Park's uniqueness are just plain silly.

But the most telling remark comes from Mr. Savage who says that the plan is in fact a good idea on the south side, just not on the north. In other words, "not in my own back yard".

The bottom line is that while not entirely willing to admit it, both Mr. Savage and Mr. Redell care about this issue for entirely selfish reasons, they do not want their own little corner of the world disrupted.


If I were in their position, I would probably feel the same way. Which is why I believe that the residents of the areas effected should be heard and their opinions taken seriously on any issue considering their neighborhood. As I wrote a couple of months ago about the neighbors of the proposed Children's Museum in Daley Bicentennial Plaza, no plan however beneficial to the entire city should proceed without at least considering the people most directly affected (as has been the case at DBP).

That said, the whole issue probably is moot as the cost for such a venture would no doubt be very prohibitive, at least any time in the near future. What's more the mayor has not gotten aboard this train and as we all know, nothing gets done in this town without Ritchie on board.

But if he does oh boy, look out Messers Savage and Redell, you may as well close up shop and hop aboard the fait accompli express!

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