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Forest preserves tell plan for $50 mil. bonds

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times

People who use the Cook County Forest Preserves can look forward to refurbished picnic shelters and repaved bike trails under a $50 million bond plan, according to district plans announced Monday.

The state Legislature allowed the forest preserves to issue $50 million in bonds to fix long-neglected infrastructure needs such as $600,000 to replace the Sunset Bridge over the Des Plaines River.

The district also will spend about $4 million to build a bigger facility at the district's "Little Red Schoolhouse" in Willow Springs. The 100-year-old restored one-room schoolhouse could use a bit of shoring up, and the district wants a bigger area to host schoolchildren. It will spend $2.8 million to upgrade the nature center at Camp Sagawau in Lemont.

The bond issue was controversial in Springfield, and Gov. Blagojevich vetoed it, warning it would lead to higher taxes for Cook County residents. But the General Assembly overrode the governor's veto.

Cook County commissioners have been waiting to see how district officials would spend the money.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston) said he was happy to see $1.2 million to clean out diversion ditches around the Skokie Lagoons that will help prevent flooding in Glencoe, as well as repaving for the bike trail.

May take three years

Commissioners could seek changes in the priorities district staff announced Monday and Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) said he wished funds were set aside for land acquisition.

Other scheduled improvements include repaving 13 miles of trails; improving 55 miles of unpaved trails, and $1.2 million in improvements at the Sand Ridge Nature Center.

Supt. Steve Bylina said he hopes to be finished with the improvements within three years.



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