Fight still on for green space near Timber Trails in Western Springs
Updated: March 17, 2012 10:06AM
Western Springs residents urged the Village Board to take a closer look and have more meetings about the proposal from the organization Openlands to create some green space in the Timber Trails area.
“I believe there are a variety of reasons to preserve the land,” said resident Sharon Cloghessy told the board Monday. “Not only is it historical for Native Americans and early settlers, but green space enhances value to nearby homes and it might be the financially smart thing to do at this point.”
Openlands is based in Northeastern Illinois and according to their website, “protects the natural open spaces and surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife and help balance and enrich our lives.” They first talked with the board in early September 2011 about acquiring the land.
Cloghessy also wanted the village to be more transparent so the community can know more about their plan with Openlands and how they are dealing with the area. Village President William Rodeghier said like any applicant, Openlands is required to give the village a lot of information, but so far they have failed to do so.
“From what I gathered the application has not been completed, so it’s going to be difficult for us to move ahead with it,” Rodeghier said. “The process is designed to give us all kinds of information and Openlands has compiled somewhat, but there’s been some things we’ve asked for that we haven’t received.”
Western Springs resident Paul Karas said he would like to see more meetings taking place to discuss these pending issues openly, because in his opinion the project will not get done with the current system.
“There are codes and regulations you would like Openlands to adhere to, but I think it’s fair to say if you do at this point, the whole concept will fall apart because they just cannot comply with the dotting of every I and the crossing of every T,” Karas said. “If Openlands has to conform with the village code, then the project is going to die.”
Rodeghier disagreed with Karas and said every applicant has to apply with these laws. Karas said he did not want the village to break the rules, but to rather have more open meetings and talk about all the issues.
“We would like Openlands to make it work, but if you start changing the rules and regulations for one person, you’re just self-defeating because you’re opening the door for all other applicants to break them,” said Trustee James Horvath.
To make the process more transparent to the public, the board sent around a sign up sheet for people who wanted to be notified about any updates with Timber Trails plans and Openlands, but Rodeghier said there really is nothing to report.
“We’ve asked for information that we need to evaluate a potential project,” he said. “If we get that information I think the first step would be to have it go to a planning and zoning meeting, they will evaluate that and either send it to the planning commission for further hearings, or send it back to the developer for further information.”
There have been several attempts by groups of residents to preserve open space in the area ever since Dartmoor Homes bought the 104-acre Timber Trails Country Club and began developing the land. A group called Save the Timber pushed for a $10 million referendum in 2004, but did not receive any of the money dispersed by Lyons Township.