Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ethel Untermyer had Wisdom and Courage

Growing up in the sixties I was exposed to some mind bending events and people. Our struggle to be closer to and respect our natural environment is something we now term as "Going Green". Ethel Untermyer was one of those mind bending folks that served us a strong dose of reality that focused us on the importance of natural open space in our lives and how we could promote preservation.

In 1958, Ethel Untermyer led the movement to start our Lake County Forest Preserve District which has now gathered 27,000 acres of land for preservation and enjoyment of our citizens. She was a true compassionate warrior that had endurance to create change in our world.

Ethel recently passed away at home in the Riverwoods but will always be with us in spirit, providing us an example that we can make good things happen too if we are willing to provide the commitment, strength, and endurance.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Promoting More Development by City

I was surprised to recently hear several Councilman speaking of changing our land use ordinances to promote more development. In the past, I had thought these promotions of more development were generated largely by our City Manager but it seems he does have Council votes to at least discuss these ideas.

Many months ago I had talked about how the downtown re-visioning was initiated by staff wanting to see changes in our land use ordinances that would promote more development. Well during our discussions of revenue shortfalls the "D" word came forward several times to help save us from having to cut back on our costs of government.

Hey, but what about more traffic, congestion, and the quality of life for our residents? For those of you that are not familiar with our land use ordinances, there is still quite a bit of development that can take place without us changing the laws. Highland Park is not fully built out under current land use laws. Many properties within our borders are only one or two story structures. The current law in our downtown allows 3 or 4 story structures and 40ft of height. There are also many sites for redevelopment on Highway 41 and other pockets within our city.

Before we give away the store on zoning to promote more development in a panic, let's focus on redevelopment and filling the empty buildings that have sprouted throughout town. Again, lets also reduce the size of government so we do not need to support a government that is crying out for more money from our citizens and property owners.