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Thursday Letters: Don't hand forest preserve land to Palos Park

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Chicago Sun-Times
by Letters to the Editor

Cook County Forest Preserve District commissioners are poised next month to take a critical step in enabling the Village of Palos Park to seize 2,000 of acres of undeveloped land in Lemont Township as part of a politically motivated deal that will lead to high-density commercial development and an influx in residential housing. By doing so, the Forest Preserve District would take an unusual step to settle a land dispute between two municipalities and circumvent Lemont’s home-rule authority over buying land and making development decisions in the village’s back yard. The land is located in Lemont Township and surrounded by the Village of Lemont. This proposal would split Lemont in half, creating an “island community” of Palos Park residents, who would live eight miles away from the actual village, while residing footsteps from Lemont. Because the property is not contiguous to Palos Park, newly appointed commissioner (and Palos Park resident) Sean Morrison is lobbying his fellow commissioners to create a land bridge by allowing Palos Park to annex a 140-acre portion of forest preserve land. This scheme benefits wealthy developers. But it’s easier to determine who loses:

 *       Lemont taxpayers who get no revenue but whose tax dollars would provide police and fire services to the area.

*       Local schools, which would accommodate an extra 2,600 students, leading to larger class sizes and lower student-teacher ratios.

 *       Palos Park, whose residents’ tax money will have to pay for infrastructure improvements for an area several miles away.

*       Cook County residents, whose commissioners would usurp local control and relinquish preserve land for political benefit, setting a dangerous precedent for the future.

We urge Cook County commissioners to take a neutral stance and refuse to have Commissioner Morrison use them as a pawn to get his way.

Brian Reaves

Mayor of Lemont



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