Source: Sun Times
By Susan Frick Carlman
When planners sat down last year to take a fresh look at the concept of open space in DuPage County, they were prepared to aim their sights beyond sprawling expanses of green grasslands and forests — or perhaps nearer.
Steering committee member Bill Novack, director of transportation, engineering and development for the city of Naperville, said one of the possibilities tossed onto the table in those early discussions was the relatively tiny parcel southeast of Washington Street and the West Branch of the DuPage River where a dilapidated and long-vacant commercial building was razed earlier this year.
“They said, ‘Here’s an example that creates something a little different,’” Novack said. “It was interesting how they looked at things and said, ‘This is a place where possibly there could be another kind of use.’”
Partly because the eastern portion of DuPage lacks large pieces of undeveloped land, that approach is what was called for in the first comprehensive update to the county’s open space plan in more than 30 years. Committee members took a look at a variety of landscapes, including vacant lots and buildings, and sites that show potential for redevelopment or conversion into parks.
“Our mission is preserving land, and we’ve never abandoned DuPage County — although we’ve been told that there was no land left in DuPage County,” said Brook McDonald, president and CEO of the Naperville-based Conservation Foundation, which spearheaded the collaborative undertaking involving county municipalities, park districts and the Forest Preserve District. “We know that’s wrong.”
A new map released with the updated plan shows areas considered promising for the completion of trail networks and connections between existing public lands, including all of the area around the DuPage River from the Will County line north to the Fawell Dam on Naperville’s north side. A broad swath of open land southwest of 75th Street and Route 59 also is highlighted on the map.
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