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In Millennium Reserve, a firing range?

Conservationists say they were “blindsided” when Mayor Emanuel resurrected a proposal to build a police firing range on the Southeast Side, just days after he joined in announcing the area would be part of a massive Millennium Reserve open space project.

The 33-acre firing range site is in “the heart” of what’s being called the Calumet Core, slated for the first phase of environmental renovation and trail-building under the Millennium Reserve, said Carolyn Marsh of the Chicago Audubon Society.

“It’s sad that our politicians, and particularly our new mayor, seem to be hypocritical on this issue,” Marsh said.

Days after the December 9 Millennium Reserve announcement, Emanuel requested the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to take up a dormant proposal to lease the site to the city.

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Completing Lakefront Park Plan

The first of three community meetings of a new plan to complete the south lakefront park system will be held this Wednesday, October 25, at 7 p.m. at The Zone, 11731 S. Avenue O.

The plan will also be aired November 16 at the Rainbow Beach fieldhouse and November 21 at the South Chicago library.

The October 25 meeting is cosponsored by Friends of the Parks, the Southeast Environmental Task Force, the South East Chicago Historical Society and the Calumet Ecological Park Association. It’s part of Friends of the Parks’ “Last Four Miles” initiative, which is engaging communities to develop concept plans for the last four miles of Chicago’s thirty-mile lakefront which remains outside the park system.

“We were looking for ways to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the 1909 Burnham Plan, which called for the entire lakefront to be public parkland,” said Eleanor Roemer of FOTP. The initiative “builds of a long history of citizens working to ensure public access to the lake,” she said.

A community design charette in May considered ideas for lakefront stretches from 71st to 75th streets and the section south of 79th to 95th street which includes the former USX site and Port of Chicago facilities. Draft planning concepts, which include a variety of alternatives, are being presented at meetings with neighborhood groups as well as the three public community meetings.

Community input will be incorporated into a consensus plan which will be exhibited at the Chicago Architecture Foundation this winter and at community sites. It will also be presented to the city and the Chicago Park District.

FOTP expects the planning process can serve as a model for a subsequent effort to open two miles of northside lakefront, from Hollywood to Evanston, to public access, Roemer said.

20-Year Landfill Moratorium Proposed

[UPDATE – The City Council passed the ordinance extending the moratorium on landfill expansions for 20 years at its June 8 session.]

In response to continuing efforts by Waste Management to promote a park proposal contingent on expanding its CID landfill, Tenth Ward Alderman John Pope has proposed the city extend its two-year moratorium on landfill expansions to 20 years.

Calumet area environmental and community activists will attend the June 7 meeting of the City Council’s environmental protection committee to support the proposal, said Marian Byrnes of the Calumet Ecological Park Association.

Waste Management has offered to develop a 200-acre park in exchange for five more years of dumping at the landfill, located at 130th and the Bishop Ford Expressway. The proposal would require an exception to the city’s two-year moratorium on landfill expansions, which has been repeatedly renewed. Pope’s ordinance would bar the landfill-park proposal — or any landfill expansions — for 20 years.

Waste Management’s proposal is opposed by three local chambers of commerce and ten community-based organizations, along with CEPA and the Southeast Environmental Task Force, Byrnes said.

Waste Management is now pushing a zoning ordinance to provide for “redevelopment” of landfills.

The CID landfill is the only open landfill in the city, and the last of scores of landfills in the Calumet region still in operation.

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is preparing a counterproposal for the site.

The environmental protection committee meets Tuesday, June 7 at 10 a.m at City Hall.



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