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  Last year more people used the County's forest preserves than visited Yellowstone National Park.

Forest preserves detail upgrades

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

The Northwest suburbs will reap their share of new Cook County Forest Preserve money authorized by the state legislature, a new list of projects released Monday shows.

Shore restoration at Busse Lake, new picnic shelter roofs, trail improvements and bathroom rehabilitation are among the projects on tap, the district revealed.

The list is the most comprehensive look yet at the $50 million bond issuance the board authorized in February. The tax hikes were available without a referendum after the Illinois legislature last year approved allowing tax hikes above and beyond the typical tax caps. Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed the measure, but the legislature overrode the veto, allowing forest preserves and park districts to increase taxes more than the roughly 3 percent a year the caps allow.

Youíre going to see visually and aesthetically a great number of improvements, said district Superintendent Stephen Bylina.

Chuck Thompson, a Northwest suburban volunteer for the forest preserves and a frequent critic, welcomed the bathroom renovations at Busse.

The bathrooms need renovating, he said.

Gone from early projections of what the money might pay for is a new boathouse at Busse Lake.

Less visible improvements such as roofing and heating systems at district facilities also will be provided for.

Some commissioners had criticized planned spending as bureaucratic, preferring vehicles and headquarters amenities as opposed to improvements at facilities used by taxpayers.

Monday, Commissioner Forrest Claypool said he hadnít had a chance to go through the entire list to see if those concerns had been addressed, but he still knocked the district for not putting out a comprehensive capital improvement budget outlining all the spending by category.

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