Saturday, May 30, 2009

Summer in the City of Highland Park

Please check out all the wonderful things we have going on in our City.
Enjoy Highland Park..... Check out all the things to do page here

What can we Recycle?

Staff at SWALCO (solid watse agency of lake county) has put together a guide to show what you can put into your recycle bin in Highland Park. Remember, recycling pick up is free once a week for all residential and free for commercial (including multifamily units) for up to 2-96gal pickups/week.

Recycling keeps these items out of the landfill and allows industry to reuse these products. While Highland Park is a Lake County leader in recycling there is still room for improvement.

Check out this link for our recycling guide to help you know what you can recycle.

Some have asked me why we don't recycle plastics #6 when other communities say that they do? Well, at this time there is no market for #6 and those communities that accept it just throw it into the landfill. We are always looking for new markets for recyclables and whenever they emerge we will increase our collectibles accordingly.

Remember to be sustainable we must first use less, then reuse when we can. Buy products that can be recycled or are easily compostible so we can regenerate waste into soil. By being responsible in this way we can be more harmonious with nature.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Do Residents want more development Downtown?

I was surprised to see the latest addition of the Highlander and our website with the launching of a public process on the new master planning effort for our downtown Central Business District. When I called staff to find out where this initiative came from I was told it was a line item in the budget. Honestly, I don't remember ever talking about this in any depth at a Council meeting.

My concern here is that we still have not completed the implementation of the 2001 Master Plan work that called out for retention of open space and more citizen input for any public use of government lands including school property. This initiative will divert staff resources needed to finish implementation of our 2001 master plan. Master Planning rewrites usually occurs about ever 15 or 20 years. What is the rush here and the motivation? Big development proposal?

My belief is that our staff wants to see more development in our downtown and believes that the recent changes we made to lower height and density to keep the character of our community was wrong. I totally disagree with staff on this one! Furthermore, I thought it was the City Council that created policy direction, not staff! I am hoping the City Council reaffirms our vision of the CBD as the 2001 master plan articulates. Not a new vision that would be a more urbanized plan that might be more reflective of Waukegan or Evanston. Here is were the rubber meets the road on political promises made on controlled development and community character protection. Keep your ears open!

What we have in our Central Business District works well for everybody. How will more development affect traffic, existing business, and property owners? How will it affect our residents quality of life in Highland Park? From studies in 2001 and before, we know we are transportationally challenged and will not handle more development well. As we look at all the empty spaces and unsold residential units around our downtown why would we consider more?

While the economy is causing us all concerns on the revenue growth front there is no reason to panic. We just need to cut costs of government instead of trying to expand revenue to meet the obligations government has set for itself. What I was elected to represent was not the need of government but the needs and visions of our citizens.

I believe with this latest launching of this new downtown visioning process we might put ourselves in jeopardy if you do not come out and express your opinion on retaining the character of our community. Don't allow the voices of a few to overwhelm the process. Residents need to get involved and voice their concern of over development in Highland Park.

Check the Central Business District Re-visioning Website at .

More than 100 people have submitted their email addresses so they can continue to get information about the planning process. Email the Department of Community Development at and ask to be put on the contact list.

Encourage your friends and neighbors to get involved and be part of this process so your voice can be heard.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Neighborhood Schools for All

During our last election, I had the pleasure of attending about 20 coffees in the various neighborhoods in Highland Park. Myself and other candidates were approached by several citizens from the Red Oak School area about how their school was treated very differently than other elementary schools in our community.

Unlike all other schools, Red Oak Elementary is 50% neighborhood kids and 50% bused in kids from other parts of the city. What the residents of this area are asking for is to have true neighborhood schools like the rest of Highland Park and I agree.

I believe we should offer neighborhood schools to all the neighborhoods in the city as a first priority. Why this situation exists is the fact that we are living with out-dated boundaries that were created during the 1993 consolidation process. There are not enough kids living in the Red Oak boundaries to fill this school. That has prompted the dual language programs and Fort Sheridan children to be bused to Red Oak.

I am urging the new superintendent and school board for District 112 to look into ways of bringing Red Oak back to the status of a neighborhood elementary school as others are within our community. We need to set a schedule of redrawing new school boundaries every so many years to keep neighborhood schools a reality in the future. I also believe the Fort Sheridan kids deserve a neighborhood school and should not be dispersed throughout our community.

As just another citizen and tax payer, I would suggest the new board and superintendent look at this matter over the summer and create a plan to discuss with our community for a 2010-2011 school year implementation. I think the sooner we start discussing this as a community, the sooner we can come together and provide the same educational community experience to all.

Dogs Can Bite!

Recently, a Pit Bull bit a teenage girl pretty severely from what seemed to be an innocent encounter with a friend of hers that recently got this new 9 month old dog. From this incident and past experiences several folks called out to ban the breed of Pit Bulls from Highland Park. First upon hearing this dialog and violence that occurred I struggled with immediate ways we could protect our citizens from this kind of violence and fear.

Banning any specific breed is NOT THE ANSWER. We need to hold the owners responsible as well as educate citizens how to approach strange dogs. Pit Bulls are not wild animals and I have witnessed many of these dogs to be kind and great family pets. I have also witnessed dogs of this breed and dozens of others to be very aggressive and not approachable by humans and/or other animals. I have been bit on more than one occasion and in all instances I could have avoided that confrontation if I had been smarter. Most all dogs I have ever witnessed want to please humans and provide unconditional love to their owners and friends. Also, most dogs, like humans don't like to be touched by strangers until they have a chance to evaluate the individual and be sure they are friend and not foe. I have two Portie's, love my dogs, and fully understand why they call these critters mans best friend.

People should not buy animals to use as weapons against others. If they are bent in that way, they better be sure that they don't cause injury or fear to others in our community. We should deal with this matter of intimidation and violence in any form in a proactive manner. We need to take a strong stance to prevent any offensive behavior in our community.

We are looking at our dangerous animal ordinance and seeing ways we can prevent owners from exposing our citizens to intimidation and violence by using their pets as symbols or soldiers of violence. We need to be sure that consequences of this neglect and misuse of animals is severe and direct. Educating our citizens on how not to approach a strange animal is also important to keep our children and ourselves safe when dealing with pets....

While this discussion is not on our current meeting agenda, staff has been instructed to look for best practices on this matter for presentation to the City Council........Stay Tuned!