September 2013 Meeting Minutes

Horner Park Advisory Council

Approved Meeting Minutes
September 9, 2013

The meeting was called to order at 7:08 pm by President Peter Schlossman. The meeting was at the Horner Park Field House. All officers were present.

Approval of Minutes
The minutes of the July 2013 meeting were approved, pending changes.

Report of the Treasurer
MB checking $ 6,534.04
MB savings $ 14,870.37
Paypal $ 1,251.03
Total $ 22,655.44
The Quickbooks account reconciles with the bank statements.

Dog Friendly Area (DFA) – No Report
Website Committee –
No Report
Garden Committee –
No Report

Concert Committee
John O turned in receipts from the concert committee. This is the 19th season in Ravenswood Manor Park. Over $10,000 in revenue was collected with $9000 in expenses.

Park Briefs
Tom reported that all parks are in good shape.

Horner Park
Fall registration is ongoing, with about 75% of the slots filled. The woodshop is now open. The hourly attendant was promoted. Melissa Rosa, Jake Palumbo’s replacement, started 2 weeks ago.

An Astronomy Night was held. There were over 16 people in attendance and Venus, our Moon, Saturn, a moon of Saturn, and the rings of Saturn were seen. Peter expressed thanks to Patrick Monaghan, Joe Guzman, and Scott Mason for hosting this event.

John discussed the entrance to Horner Park. The monument was rededicated in 1992. A few years later, a car demolished one of the trees. This tree has not been replaced and now other plants are obscuring the monument. Barb Wood is evaluating landscaping alternatives.

Buffalo Park
There is a proposal to add another tree at the south end. Trees on parkway have been lost, but the city has agreed to support planting efforts, pending community support and donations. There are 2 donors willing to contribute a tree. John is also working with Care of Trees for both planting and the approval process. The planting process would be a community event.

Some of the pear trees are splitting, as furthest north tree did. These trees need trimming for preventive maintenance; a partnership with care of trees is being pursued.

Sunken Gardens
The graffiti is gone. New trees were planted with thanks to Theresa Hicks, Luke Ross and the CPD.

Ravenswood Manor Park
A light has been out all summer. Sarah reminded Tom that there are broken refuse bins and broken benches. In the past, Sarah has found needles in the park and reminded us that everyone needs to be vigilant.

Jacob Play lot
CTA property will be turned over to the park district and added to Jacob Play lot. The play lot will be renovated in the next few weeks. The plans were on-line so people had a chance to vote on them.

Riverbank Project
There was considerable turnout by neighbors interested in the status of the Riverbank Restoration Project being undertaken by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Bob Foster, with the Chicago Park District (CPD), presented a brief slide show describing the current status of the riverbank and the proposed design recommendation.

The existing riverbank is unplanned and steep in places. In 2001 a plan was made to stabilize the banks, enhance quality of wildlife, store water runoff from the entire park without an erosion problem. This plan included community input but was never implemented. The current problems with the riverbank: non-natural hydraulics and stream morphology and a lack of native vegetation.

To ameliorate the current problem, 4 acres of a riparian zone and 8 acres of Oak Savanna are recommended. The site would be cleaned, graded, and planted with new forbes, flowers, and seedlings. This plan requires the removal of up to 56 upland trees, 10 of which are unhealthy or non-native.

Re-growth occurs slowly over 25 years. By the end of the year 3, the bare spots will be filled in. By the end of year 25, the trees will be mature. USACE will be providing maintenance through the 5th year.

Riverbank restoration will not affect existing structures. There will be a canoe and kayak dock, but not a large boat launch. There will be a nature trail and a split rail fence. Eventually there will be a bike path in conjunction with the under-bridge project.

Bob then showed photos of area parks, illustrating the type of landscape that would be expected. The parks included Legion Park (a photo of what the buffer area could look like), Ronan Park (75% of the trees were removed), Eugene Field Park (reduction in flooding was achieved), and Red Mill Pond in Indiana (shows the ecosystem developed by USACE).

Bob’s Presentation was followed by a lively Q and A session.

  1. This project is taking an area fenced off, in accessible and taking down trees and fence. How will this affect water quality and wildlife?

The wildlife habitat will be improved. Trees that are removed will be pounded into the bank to reduce erosion. This creates a good aquatic habitat and will help with storm water management.

  1. Will water quality be significantly improved by this project?
    Yes, there will be less soil and erosion going into the river.
  2. We fought the 2001 restoration project because of child safety issues. Without a fence, it is a risky, attractive situation for small children, with a danger of drowning. It is safer with a fence.
    A member of the audience suggested that people keep an eye on their children.
  3. How many families are using the park on a daily or weekly basis?
  4. A resident near Legion Park says that they cannot access the river because of plants; the native plants are 4-5 feet tall and very dense, making a visual and physical barrier.

USACE says they want Horner Park to look more like Ronan Park, with trails and an access point.

  1. There was concern for the habitat for migratory birds. Horner Park is not comparable to Ronan Park because it gets more human traffic.

In the short term, the environment will be disrupted. One of the goals is to attract migratory birds.

  1. Can the 8 ft. sidewalk be expanded?
    No, a bike path is coming later. There will be a 4 ft. wood chip path to the river with an 8 ft. x8 ft. observation platform.
  2. River path could be a haven for gangs.
    Whenever we build access, people are afraid about safety. More use brings more eyes on the trail and there will be improved sight lines.
  3. There was a request for more than 1 access point.
  4. Will there be new lights, water fountains, and benches?

There are existing facilities and no new facilities are being planned.

  1. Concerns were raised about the amount of land devoted to trails and about multi-use trails.
  2. There is a concern by a neighbor on the east side of the river because she has been told that the police cannot patrol that area because it is owned by the water reclamation district and is not Chicago property.
    This will be park district property and falls under the jurisdiction of CPD and can be patrolled by the police. Also, this project will help this problem because the sight line will be better.
  3. Is it necessary to clear-cut all the vegetation on the west side? The trees block the light and stop sand blowing from the fields onto the east side of the fence.

Plans are being made for a walk through to see what trees can be saved.

  1. What happens to the birds that can now be seen in the area?
    They will be impacted temporarily.
  2. The park is not an isolated, rural area. On the east side, they have restored the river bank. They were overruled on the issue of the lights in the park, being told that the trees will block the light. They want most of the trees to remain.
    CPD has planted 100 trees west of the path in the past year.
  3. Lights for movies in the park and 9 baseball night games pierce windows of home. Loss of trees will drastically change the community and they suggest addressing erosion in isolated areas rather than decimate the wall of green.
    John O’ Connell, River Day Captain for 15 years, invited neighbors to join him on efforts to improve the environment for this and the next generation, including participating in River Day Cleanup.
  4. Approval for the project was voiced because of the long term improvement in the habitat for birds. A representative from the National Audubon Society was introduced and she agreed that the restoration will improve significantly the environment for migratory birds. She endorses the habitat being designed by USACE.
  5. At the July 23 meeting, many people requested more than one access point to the river and a wood chip trail along the river.
  6. There was concern that the 8 ft., multi-use sidewalk needs to be expanded.
    No, integration with CDOT and the under bridge connector with a bike trail is scheduled for a later date.
  7. There are 7 houses on the east side with no tree cover that are directly across from the lookout point.

There is no lookout point in the plan.

  1. A runner commented on the marked trees.

56 trees have been identified for removal. 10 of them are being removed because of the Emerald Ash Borer problem or because they are non-native species.

  1. The river rose 4-5 feet in less than an hour on 2 occasions this summer.

USACE reported that the have included stabilization features in the design.

  1. Pete Leki said that there is so much good in this plan but neighbors cannot stomach wiping out every tree along the bank; there is just too much history. Asked for a more graduated or complex approach without inflicting this holocaust on the trees. Plan needs to take human inhabitants into account
  2. Is another canoe dock necessary?
  3. Will the restoration affect the opposite bank?

Hydrologic improvements include widening the river and increasing water capacity, which could help the east bank but may not be significant.

  1. Is it possible to put shields on the lights?

They are switched manually, not automatically. They should be off by 10:15. They should not be on in the winter; if they are, it could be the result of an outage. Tom, the park supervisor, gave his phone number and said to call him if there is a problem.

  1. Clear cutting a half mile of trees seems egregious.
  2. Why is this project being rushed?
    There is a timeline on the money.  In 2006 CPD applied for funding for the 2001 project. Funding became available this year. Great Lakes funds, which are being used for this project, will not be available after September.
  3. There is a request that no contracts be signed until the walk-thru.

CPD will ask for an extension on the bid process but it is unclear who has the authority to change the schedule to accommodate input from the neighbors.

  1. Are the 13 year old plans out of date?

There was only a design idea, not specific specifications.

  1. Could there be community representation on the walk-through.
  2. Use of the land to the east of the mowed grass will be reduced to an 8 ft. wide sidewalk and this will not accommodate the number of people using the park.

How the mowing is done can help reduce the problem.

  1. Right idea, wrong place. Uncontrolled dust throughout the year because of the baseball fields.
  2. What type of contract is being sought?
    USACE has put out a bid for demolition and planting. One prime contract with multiple sub-contracts.
  3. Are you saying that we need to trust that you will leave as many trees as possible?
    Regina Blair is in charge of executing contracts, but she does not have the authority to hold the project to incorporate all concerns. USACE will be on the ground with neighbors and the aldermen for a walk-thru. We can’t deliver an eco-system overnight.
  4. I am Cynthia Fox, Friends of the River, and I am really excited about this project and the improvements to erosion and habitats over the years.
  5. Can there be low-level lights along the path? It is a little scary with strange people near-by.
    No, but sight lines will be improved.
  6. Assuming this project goes to bid, can changes still be made?
  7. Who is responsible for maintenance? It is expensive to maintain a wetland.

Maintenance will be covered during the first 5 years. After that, CPD takes over.

  1. Why can’t CPD take care of it now?

The riverbank needs extensive restoration.

 

Alderman Pawar comments:

As Alderman of 47 I don’t think anyone is doubting subject matter expertise. Response is simply not knowing about it on the East. Request to strike balance between improving toward future and clear cutting all trees. Lights went in after major opposition; now to have trees come down, lights continuing, we need to work together to come up with a better plan for everyone. Neighbors to east have spent 20 years working on east bank. You are not going to find better advocates than the people sitting in this room. Please engage advocates on the east side of the river.

Alderman Mell:

Thanks to USACE and CPD , HPAC, Friends of River, Park, Audubon. I am generally for this project, would like it to go forward—though have some concerns: bigger buffer from concrete path, and would love a path closer to the river. Look forward to our walk through next week. Members of my community are for the project. Thinking of environmental projects: short term pain for long term improvement (like fire management)

Peter thanked everyone for coming and asked that any additional questions and comments be directed to HPAC; these will be forwarded to USACE.

Cathy Breitenbach from CPD assured everyone that they will make every effort to reflect everyone’s views.

The meeting adjourned at 9:05. The next meeting will be Oct. 7, 2013 at 7:00pm at the Horner Park Field House.

Respectfully submitted: Lisa Cleveland, Co-Secretary

 

Attendance:

HPAC Board and Committee Members:
Peter Schlossman – President
Larry Brown – Vice-President
Kevin Anderson – Treasurer
Sarah Reiser – Co-Secretary
Lisa Cleveland  – Co-Secretary
 Erica Beutler- Committee Chair
John O’Connell – Committee Chair
John Friedman – Committee Chair
Representatives from USACE:
Roach, Nicole
Lovell, Lt. Col. Kevin
Sorn, Linda
Representatives from the Chicago Park District:
Tom McManamon – Park Supervisor
Foster, Bob
Solis, Maya
Breitenbach, Cathy
Murdock, Rich
Aldermen:
Alderman Deborah Mell – 33rd Ward
Alderman Ameya Pawar – 47th WardPoole, Jim – 47th Ward
Members of the Press:
Natalie Martinex – Channel 5
Patty Wetli – DNAinfoJim McIntyre – WLS-TVNeighbors:

 

Ayicrta, Cheryl
Battaglin, David
Battaglin, Svetlana
Byerly, Sara
Byrnes, Pat
Caccagno, Matthew
Cameron, Martha
Commons, Marla
Cornacchia, Don
Cornacchia, Sandy
Crum, Amy
Deprex, Julie
Doetzer, Deb
Dunham, Claire
Ellison, Terra
Evans, MarionHodak, LarryBerland, Katalin
Flagg, Sarah
Flaherty, Barlane
Floodas, Jon
Genet, Beth
Gianni, Karen
Gianni, Thomas
Grace, Amanda
Grigaliunas, Nemira
Hester, Zethsun
Iturrable, Elsie
Janhke, Amy
Jasinski Laszuk,, Renata
Jean-Baptiste, April
Johnson, Debi
Kirk, Stuart
Klein, Paul
Larrimore, Robert
Leiber, Ester
Leiber, Mike
Leki, Pete
Lyman, John
Madigan, Lisa
Malone, Peggy
Malone, Susan
Matthesius, Kurt
Mecuine, Jeanne
Meyer, Nic
Mitran, Andy
Morns, Katie
Morrow, Pat
Murray, Sue
Natal, Jane
Nolan, Anne
Peterson, Jessica
Phillippe, Jamie
Pollock, Judy
Poole, Elizabeth
Potter, Alison
Ranney, Ben
Reeres, Simon
Rodriguez, Jude
Rokita, Joy
Rozman, Anne
Scannapieco, Gabriel
Schlensker, Carol
Schmidt, Sigrid
Sesko, T.J.
Shedi, Lynn
Simmens, Sarah
Sorich, Tom
Southward, Kevin
Spindle, Alan
Stacey, Christ
Stacey, Cindy
Strause, Liz
Sutliff, Diane
Sutten, Stephanie
Thale, Rosie
TheFlaherty@comcast.net
Thrney, Mike
Toelne, Linda
Viets, Laurie
Vujic, Bobby
Wineberg, Helene
Wineberg, Richard Jay
Zapata, Pat

 

 

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