Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NO SIGNS-YES TREES - Looking for Last Big Push From YOU -

First, don't be surprised not to see my signs on the streets since I have made a pledge to plant trees instead. I made this pledge because it is time for political campaigns to join the sustainability movement and take some steps to reduce waste. While this is a small environmental step, it does demonstrate an alternative approach to politics. Also, by planting trees we are affirmatively reducing carbons and increasing oxygen in our environment. Signs also create an ugly landscape and keep our police and staff busy with hundreds of complaints... In our small town we simply don't need signs if our voters are willing to learn who the best candidates are for the job. Everything you need to know about the candidates can be done by reading our material, watching us on TV or the Internet, and learning about us at our websites and other media venues. I believe an educated voter can make a better choice than just counting signs.

Well, what this means is that I am counting on our citizens being educated voters. You can help me get the message out by sending out friend to friend cards and by displaying a bumper sticker or wearing a button. Not only show your support but please speak about our campaign and share your expirience with me as your City Councilman. You can also send a letter to the editor at Pioneer Press (HP News) expressing your support for my re-election. Please also sign up to simply endorse my candidacy .

Monday, February 09, 2009

$380,000 Wetland Restoration Grant Awarded to HP

The Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) awarded a $380,000 grant from the Wetland Restoration Fund to the Park District of Highland Park for its project at the Skokie River Woods site on the southeast corner of Routs 22 and 41. This will fund wetland restoration and wetland/stream enhancement, with significant wetland buffer/upland restoration to improve the overall ecological value of the site, which is on the historic floodplain. This is an exciting project that will provide multiple benefits of flood damage reduction, water quality improvement, and natural resource protection.

I provided the leadership to save the Skokie River Woods (38acres) several years ago when I put together a partnership that was made up of the City of Highland Park, the Park District of Highland Park, The Lake County Forest Preserve District, and the Illinois Dept of Natural Resources that came up with the 4 million dollars for purchase of this property. Joyce O'keefe was instrumental along with open lands for helping us forge the deal.

After years of planning and waiting, it is wonderful to see our Lake County Commissioner Anne F. Bassi get funding to initiate this restoration. I am grateful to her for the hard work on this project and other stormwater issues that will greatly benefit residents of our community for years to come. Good 9 minute video put out by the US EPA is worth watching demonstrating alternative stormwater solutions.

Restoring the wetlands at the Skokie River Woods site will provide a great example of how nature does a better job at dealing with stormwater issues. If we can provide natural "green" solutions to these flooding issues instead of the "Deep Pit Solutions of the past", future generations will be much better served and educated. I am hoping that these restorations will continue along the Skokie River within the Highland Park County Club site over the next several years.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Commitments Should not be Broken

I spent the better part of a day at a Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) meeting listening to testimony concerning rebuilding the golf course at Fort Sheridan. While most of the discussion centered around the economics concerning a marketing study on the viability of another golf course in Lake County, several of the Commissioners did grasp the real issue at hand.

While the President of the LCFPD stated that her preference would be to see 100,000 visitors a year at the Fort Sheridan property instead of the 20,000 a year that would be generated by redevelopment of the golf course, a majority (about 75%) of the Commissioners that spoke realized that the core issue in the discussion was," is the LCFPD going to HONOR the commitment made to Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Forest, and the Army to build and maintain a golf course as the master plan described and is required in the deed". This obligation was in consideration for the purchase/transfer of the 250+ acres of this lakefront land to the LCFPD. While a prior offer of 10 million was rejected by the Army, the revised offer presented by the LCFPD and promoted by the partnership of adjoining communities was accepted because it was part of a package of Historic Preservation, Environmental Remediation, and additional clustered density on the remaining portions of the disposition property. Our own Highland Park/Deerfield representative Michelle Feldman hit the nail on the head when she stated that the forest preserve should honor the agreement or give the land back.

Historic Preservation and Environmental Remediation was costly and also a big part of the consideration of the transfer of open space at no cost. Environmental analysis identified landfills, pesticide storage areas, asbestos-containing material, PCB-containing transformers, unexploded ordnance, and a variety of petroleum products and metals in the soil and groundwater. Entire ravines that were filled with contaminants were fully remediated into the natural gems that currently exist. Environmental cleanup began in 1993. Ninety-four buildings, including 64 designed by Holabird & Roche, are situated on the 110-acre Historic District, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1984. If I am not mistaken the project costs to produce this cutting edge project was about 300 million in 1990 dollars.

Monies for the consideration of this purchase from the Army should come from acquisition and development funds since that was also promised to our residents as we supported several referendums in the 90's. When the first and second LCFPD referendums were promoted several county representatives specifically stated that those monies would cover the complete development of the Fort Sheridan obligation to the Army and our citizens.

Why are some folks trying to revise history? If you ask anyone that was around and involved in the deal, the facts are clear. If anyone out there doubts me (and I was very involved in this process) please call others like Ray Geraci, Pete Koukos, Dan Pierce, Joyce O'keefe, Lisa Cervac, Paul Diambri, or many others you can find.

We now need to move forward and reconvene the Joint Planning Committee of our three communities and the LCFPD to develop a plan that meets commitments acceptable to the partners including resident representatives. Concerning golf demand, we should look at all our surrounding properties in HP and Lake Forest to determine if we can transition some of these into other use to best serve our regional needs. I have always been a proponent of re-using the Highland Park Country Club for passive and natural stormwater management along with much needed play fields for our children and active adults.

It is the time for constructive dialog and putting the issues and commitments of Fort Sheridan into action so we can put this issue to rest. The LCFPD with the leadership of Anne F. Bassi has done a wonderful job with the development of public access and remediation of the beaches, bluffs, and ravines at the Fort. We need to come back together and move forward on projects like Open Lands is developing. They are implementing a wonderful plan of trails and remediation all along the Southern portion of Fort Sheridan. Highland Park and Highwood will continue to negotiate with the Navy and Forest City on a redevelopment plan South of Bartlett Ravine that is a real "Green Development" and is a partner in the community approach to the bluffs and shoreline.

Dialog and partnerships make us stronger and will continue to provide great solutions to our community and county if we all just continue work together and honor our past commitments.