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Sunday, September 15

John O'Connell (Friends of the Parks, Horner Park Advisory Council) Open Letter on Horner Park Riverbank Restoration

From: John O'Connell
Sent: Sunday, September 15, 2013 7:54 PM
To: Drummond, Frederic A COL LRC; Mike Kelly
Cc: Rahm Emanuel; Deborah Mell; Ameya Pawar; Robert Becker; Mike Daly; Jeannette Schiller; Susan Hedman; Maya Solis
Subject: Horner Park Riverbank Restoration

Dear Colonel Drummond,

I would like to thank you for your time, and your gracious demeanor in leading the recent walk through of the east and west banks of the Chicago River, in your attempt to ameliorate the divisions between neighbors on the proposed riverbank restoration project at Horner Park.

I came away with the impression that not only did you listen and understand the concerns residents have, particularly those from the opposite shore from Horner, but that you honestly will make every attempt within your power, and what may be practically feasible, to incorporate specific amendments that address and attempt to satisfy the meritorious objections fostered by all the citizens present that night.  Those objections generally focus on the specific number and location of which trees must be removed, and which could be saved.  Yet I am also impressed that you will make every attempt to achieve the over all goals of the plan, including the remedy of the acute steepness of the bank, correction of the composition of the soil and it's ability to withstand erosion, and the provision of a naturally restored habitat while allowing for greater human access to the river for recreation.

Yet the plan, even with modification, portends an exciting revitalization for a natural native vegetative habitat, one that will attract and harbor a recovering population of avian and fauna species.  The merits of the modified plan far outweigh any short term detractions, and it is my hope that those who are against the plan now will learn to love the results as time allows nature to morph a temporary scab into a blossoming pastoral paradise.

Even with compromise, I am certain there may always remain a vocal few who will object to any trees coming down.  They may never be appeased.  I can empathize with their fear of change, and their anticipation of a temporarily denuded riverbank.  Yet the greater good of the health of the river, and the responsibility we have to future generations with this opportunity, demands us to take the correct tack and proceed in this restoration.

As a member of the Horner Park Advisory Council since its inception a quarter century ago, as one who has held every office and participated in nearly all of its committees, I am both proud and humbled that a project we have worked so long and hard on for nearly 15 years is just within our grasp.  I urge you to take every step in your command to partner with the Chicago Park District and proceed with the Horner Park riverbank restoration project.

John R. O'Connell

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