Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Now they can vote and support nature . . .

Below is a clip from a May 17 Sun-Times article by Fran Spielman. I hope I'm wrong, but this seems like the kind of environmental leadership we may not see again for a couple of mayors. You really do have to take these opportunities when you can get them, less another Home Depot sprouts instead.

"The Daley administration is seeking to acquire 30 acres at the entrance to the North Side's Rosehill Cemetery and turn it into a "mini-Morton Arboretum'' -- the first nature preserve created in Chicago in more than 50 years.

"It's a lovely piece of property that would be a wonderful acquisition for the city and a wonderful addition to the city's parks. It has a kind of natural beauty that is very hard to come by these days,'' said Joyce O'Keefe, deputy director of the Open Lands Project.

If negotiations between City Hall and Texas-based Service Corp. International come to a successful conclusion, North Side residents will have a new set of walking paths and bike trails to enjoy.

The new urban oasis -- located along Western Avenue between Peterson and Balmoral -- is also a "huge area for birds,'' according to local Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th).

"This would be a nature preserve and park for the enjoyment of all the citizens of Chicago, not just our community,'' said O'Connor, who has an uncle buried there.

"Commercial uses have been threatened for decades. When I was younger, they wanted to put a Jewel [grocery] in there. A couple years ago, it was a Home Depot. Those would be totally unacceptable to me and totally unacceptable to plot owners and their families.''

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who is working to secure federal funding for the project, said it would be ''the first neighborhood city park to be built in over 35 years and the first nature preserve in the city in over 50 years.''

It always bummed me out not to be able to ride my bike through Graceland Cemetery when I lived up there. It's such peaceful, green space with so many fascinating tycoons and architectural giants buried beneath sculptural stones, and in some cases, buildings. As long as people are being respectful, why not extend the acquisition idea into greater public access at cemeteries? Just serve the security guards some extra double lattes and you're done.

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