I’m not a very good politician, and I am just fine with that, but I know I have been a good public servant in our community. I served as an alderman in Lake Forest for 4 years and mayor from 2006 to 2010—those positions were non-partisan, an arena in which I am most comfortable because for me it’s about public service not partisan politics.
Over the last 8 years as your Lake County Board Member and also automatically as your representative to the Forest Preserves Board, I have taken the lead in many projects including the Middelfork Bridge restoration, the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act project at Fort Sheridan, the bike path on Everett Road, and most recently the Oriole Grove/Prairie Wolf Preserve projects.
On September 22nd, there will be an Open House where you can learn more about our Master Plan for the Oriole Grove Forest Preserve. This is a project I have been working on with staff from our Lake County Forest Preserves for over 6 years. I’m excited to share it with you and to get your feedback.
Back when the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and our Forest Preserve District owned the land jointly, Oriole Grove was supposed to be dug out as a retention pond. As the then Mayor of Lake Forest, I along with the Mayor of Lake Bluff, worked to block that use, because it would not have solved any flooding problems and we would have lost the historic Jens Jensen pond and land design.
I understood the importance of connectivity between our Forest Preserves not only for wildlife to thrive, but to enhance the recreational opportunities for walkers and bikers. One of my first actions as a Board member was to seek out private donations to rebuild the Middlefork Bridge. Rebuilding the Middlefork Bridge has provided just such a connection not only for wildlife, but for residents and bikers wishing to connect to significant preserves to the west.
To similarly connect more of our Forest Preserves for our community in this area, I went to the IDNR to see how the Forest Preserves could take full ownership of Oriole Grove and the Prairie Wolf Slough so we could work directly with our residents to do something more consequential with the land.
I’m proud to say we completed a land swap with the State to take full ownership of Oriole Grove and the Prairie Wolf Slough! At our Open House on September 22nd, we’ll be sharing what our Master Plan is for Oriole Grove as we move forward with restoration of the preserve. We’ll explain how we plan to connect Oriole Grove on the north to Lake Bluff Open Lands and on the south to Lake Forest Open Lands.
None of this would have been possible were it not for the great staff on the Lake County Forest Preserves and IDNR. Today, our community is more connected than ever, and I believe this master plan will enhance that even further.
So, I am very excited to invite and welcome you to our Open House at the Greenbelt Cultural Center starting at 5:00 to learn more about our Oriole Grove Master Plan.