Jackson Park Advisory Council--A Closer look--the Framework Plan

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A rendering of Jackson Park with all recommendations superimposed and numbered is at the bottom of this page.

A. Environmental recommendations and status

B. General overview of status (excluding part 1, circulation and recreation)

A. Jackson Park Framework Plan 2000
Assessment of Environmental Gen. Recommendations and their implementation, including JPAC involvement

Gary M. Ossewaarde, for July, 2002 JPAC meeting, updated September 15, latest October 18, 2002

From the Guiding Principles of the Plan, pages 2 and 3

4. Maintain Open space Character

5. Protect and Enhance Landscape Beauty

6. Improve Environmental Features:

On pages 4 and 5, BROAD PATTERNS-Environment, the plan writers said the objectives should be to:

General Recommendations

1. Develop Park Management Program: …to improve bio-diversity, habitat opportunities and…a naturally more sustainable and ecologically sound landscape that reduces long-time maintenance requirements.

JPAC committees are working hands-on, with managers, and with ad hoc collaborative working committees to realize this. This activity will be long-term and can grow, but needs more volunteers and more participating members knowledgeable in these matters. The council may have a role in recruitment of stewards to help in ongoing natural area, other managing. Note: implementation habitat renewal in accord with this standard increases, rather than decreases, the need for intense maintenance, at least over the short term. Since upkeep and nourishment of new habitat will require greater commitment, planning and imagination from the Park District, the council may have to seek a change of focus.

2. Balance Park Programming: …coordinate environmental programs with athletic, fishing, birding, boating and passive recreational programming to maintain the appropriate balance of natural habitat and general public use of the parks while improving the environmental quality of all park amenities.

This is a very tall order given how much of the park is given to golf, soccer, picnicking, fishing, beach wading, and roadways and how little public awareness there often is of even simple do's and don'ts. The district already is 1) improving the natural areas, 2) increasing environmental stewardship and learning programs for kids, youth, and families and the ecology component of, for example, its fishing program and working more with schools, 3) introducing ecological principles and practices into landscape management and the golf course, 4) working in partnership with soccer and other teams to keep fields up and discourage bad park user practices. JPAC members are working with park managers to insist that projects, cleanups etc. be done right and in ways that improve the long-term health of the park and its water and other systems. Much more needs to done in this regard-perhaps the council needs to press for stronger commitment from downtown in its dealings with other agencies and so the district thinks as soon of defending natural areas as it does of defending concession and sports users. This area holds great potential for council action and projects.

3. Recognize Regional Role: Understand the roles and needs of [each of the Olmsted South Parks] in the regional ecosystem, when implementing improvements to complement and expand upon habitats in other…parks…and open spaces… and

4. Draw Upon Resources/Specialists: to capitalize on unique opportunities for new and improved habitat…

Members and committees consult in regional and citywide task forces, including those for bird and forest-management guidelines. Collaborations with ecological interest and expert groups can be increased and regularized and JPAC can take the lead in having area advisory councils set up cooperative committees to work together on these issues, share expertise and volunteers, and deal with competing interests or entities which might counter good habitat development or the ecological health of the parks.

5. Develop Interpretive Opportunities:

    Doug Anderson's tours have been and can be further promoted as an anchor activity. The council could sponsor additional tours and interpretive activities in the park, some perhaps with a stewardship activity. The council can work with the park district to grow the nature interpretive and stewardship programs, including their outreach to schools, community groups, and institutions. The council could collaboratively develop guide(s) to the natural areas. The council can assess the Park District's new nature signage and push for any additional signage needed, including signs directing to and identifying the natural areas. The Newsletter has an interpretive role to play. The council could seek ways to make the nature areas and other park assets-and the fact that they can be safely enjoyed-better known in the Chicago Region.

6. Develop Forest Management Plans: …These should provide standards for landscape management and tree replacement.

    This key JPAC attainment is in progress; the nature committee should continue its exemplary engagement and its use of experts. The council needs to be very supportive to make sure the process remains an open learning process balancing varied scientific and park objectives but is not diverted from major principles over the long term. The council should insist to the park district that the emphasis be on managing sustainable habitats and landscapes, not on short term although needed rehabilitations or briefly-spectacular demonstrations.

Framework Plan Recommendations p. 16.

Note: Many (most?) of these have not been discussed by or recommended by JPAC. JPAC did recommend the Plan as a whole partly because it recognized the need for forest and plant management planning and the Migratory Bird Treaty. On other occasions, JPAC has endorsed lagoon and Wooded Island restoration and restoration of vistas and linkages. JPAC has generally called for establishment of a nature center and opposed boat concessions in Columbia Basin. Recommendations with implementation in progress include A1, A2, A4, A5, A9, A10, B2, B7

A. Landscape/Environment

A1 Implement the Landscape Recommendations of the Historic Templates for Jackson Park

A2 Improve the quality of the Wooded Island landscape, the Paul Douglas Nature Sanctuary, and look for opportunities to enhance the landscapes adjacent to the lagoons.

A3 Extend the Meadow south along proposed restoration of the lagoon visually linking the East Lagoon and Inner Harbor, and east to the proposed sports fields

A4 Design opportunities to provide additional bird and wildlife habitat through appropriate plant selection throughout Jackson Park.

A5 Work with the Golf Course managers to introduce more native landscape in the rough, and to use an integrated pest management system in accordance with Audubon Society standards.

A6 Create community-oriented therapeutic and healing gardens adjacent to LaRabida. Improve the overall quality and appearance of the landscape around LaRabida.

A7 Extend breakwaters into the Lake south of LaRabida to 67th Street to improve wildlife habitat.

Working with community gardeners, upgrade the Perennial Garden as a showcase garden.

A9 Develop Forest Management Plan with public input which will respect the park’s historic character, natural habitat, age and quality of trees, and evolution of the park over time.

A10 Acknowledge and implement guidelines of the March 25, 2000 Migratory Bird Treaty.

B. Water

B1 Expand the 57th Street and 63rd Street beaches into the Lake.

B2 Implement the FY 2000 Lagoon Restoration Program.

B3 Restore the historic visual linkage between the East Lagoon and Inner Harbor and improve the natural habitat. Preserve existing mature trees according to the Forest Management Plan.

B4 Support the addition of a water taxi destination at the 59th Street Pier.

B5 Consider a well-managed environmentally and fishing friendly boat concession limited to the Columbia Basin.

B6 Create a water’s edge promenade around the Yacht Harbor and Inner Harbor, linking the 63rd Street Beach House with the proposed focal point at Promontory Circle.

B7 Maintain a healthy hydrological system, including wetlands, with a schedule of monitoring and reporting to protect public health, as well as preserve the lagoons.

Implementation Strategy

Priority 1: A2, A3, A5, A6, A8, B1, B2, B5
Priority 2: A7, B4, B6
Priority 3: B3

B. Overview of Framework Plan recommendation status (part)

Many recommendations are being implemented or planned

JPAC* or the Park District ** have proposed implementing, at least in part, the following recommendations:

Jackson Park Map with Framework Plan 2000 Recommendations

Main impacts discussed above would be at (top to bottom) E8 'Iowa' Building; B2-A3-D3-E-6-B3-C8-D5-D6 East Lagoon and Golf Driving Range (move to D2) to southeast; D1-E7 recreation and structures west of Cornell; 64th/Cornell crossing.

Jackson Park Framework Plan and localized impacts on the map

Chicago Park District-Johnson, Johnson & Roy

JPAC Resolutions concerning implementation of Framework Plan environmental recommendations

Resolution of July 8, 2002

JPAC calls upon the appropriate agencies to implement recommendations of the U.S. Geological Survey to see what can be done to improve water quality, including diversion of paved area runoff, including from parking lots and Cornell Drive, into the city sanitary system or Lake Shore Drive vortex separator system instead of lagoons.

JPAC Correspondence concerning implementation of environmental recommendations

Pursuant to the July 8, 2002 resolution concerning runoff drains into the lagoons citing the Framework recommendations. This remains part of a long range goal of JPAC, and applies also to the left over Nike C-41 drains in Bob-o-link Meadow.

A similar, more generalized letter was sent to the Commissioner of Environment, asking the Department to take a leadership and oversight role in this and similar matters. DOE has assured us that this matter and area are indeed on their list, although funding is scarce.

June 22, 2002

To Hon. Alderman Leslie A. Hairston...

Dear Alderman Hairston:

Jackson Park Advisory Council strongly supports and urgently requests that all drains and sewers in and around the parking lot northeast of Hayes and Cornell drives (southwest of the lagoons and currently run via outfall into the southwest corner of the West Lagoon) be tied into the new Hayes interceptor sewer sending first-flush into the sanitary sewer system and heavy rains into the new Lake Shore Drive system. This would conform to the findings and recommendations of the United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) Report on 63rd Street Beach pollution, comply with what was promised at meetings in 1999 concerning the South Lake Shore Drive rehabilitation now in progress, and conform to objectives and recommendations in the Jackson Park/South Lakefront 2000 Framework Plan.

The U.S.G.S. Study and Report were done because 63rd Street beach had higher than average (and generally increasing) frequency of closures/swimming bans and because a real, ongoing threat to public health and safety was present there. One of the Report's key conclusions was that contamination of the lagoons, and flow from the lagoon and harbor system via the beach wet-sand zone into the Lake, contributes to bacterial and chemical pollution leading to closures at the 63rd St beach. (The potential may be enhanced despite water quality improvements to the lagoons because the lagoons are regulated at a set level via dams with a spillway into the 59th Marina and a pump bringing Lake water into the lagoons and because the lagoons will no longer retain large influxes of rainwater.) The Report recommended that catchments from pavement (i.e. parking lots, roadways, service roads, and facilities) around the lagoons be intercepted and diverted to the city's sanitary sewer system. Such an interceptor has been constructed along Hayes Drive and, we understand, is partially in service. It will divert at least first-flush run-off from adjacent sections of reconstructed Lake Shore Drive, and will be connected to drains in the Hayes parking lots near LSD. It is imperative that the Hayes west lot, large in catchments area, be connected to the Hayes sewer also. A survey can later be done of other paved areas, including Cornell Drive.

Jackson Park Advisory Council has long urged drainage improvement so as to protect the lagoons and the lake. As Lake Shore Drive plans were developed, the SLDS Advisory Group successfully urged fundamental changes to drainage plans, including a new interceptor along Hayes Drive. Specifically, at a special meeting in 1999, the design team agreed to tie the Hayes Drive parking lots into the new sewer system. Concurrent to the Lake Shore Drive rehabilitation, a-well conceived Lagoon Rehabilitation Project is now approaching completion.

Subsequently, many including the Council, sought language in the Jackson Park Framework Plan which would address the drainage issue. Language added includes on p. 4 (Final Edition):

"Lake ecosystems are composites of the open water, shoreline systems and systems that occur in the watershed. Jackson Park, Washington Park and South Shore Cultural Center span all of these systems. Lakes are adversely affected when disturbances occur in one of these systems."

Also, Recommendation B7, p. 16:

"Maintain a healthy hydrological system, including wetlands, with a schedule of monitoring and reporting to protect public health, as well as preserve the lagoons."

We ask that you forward to the proper agencies our request to tie the west Hayes lot into the Hayes interceptor and use your good office to effect, as soon as possible, this needed improvement and safeguard of public health and safety in Jackson Park and the 5th Ward.

Cordially yours,
Gary M. Ossewaarde, Secretary
/s/ Ross Petersen, Nature Committee Chairman