Below is a list of items discussed at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County meeting in December compiled by Connie Schmidt.
Willowbrook Wildlife Center – A new piece of equipment is being purchased to provide low-level laser therapy for residents of the amazing Willowbrook Wildlife Center. It will provide comfort for injured and aging animals reducing inflammation.
Vegetation Management at various locations – A contract is awarded to perform maintenance in various preserves that are connected to quarries or landfill uses. This effort makes sure that the flow of water in the area is managed appropriately. Contract is for a three-year commitment with opportunity to extend. Traditionally it is invasive species that are being controlled.
Oak Meadows Golf Club Building – Located in Addison at The Preserve at Oak Meadows, the new facility project was reviewed. The construction began in September 2019. Slides were shown verifying that the roof is on, and windows are being installed now. Steel construction makes this new structure very durable. Photos were shared of the rendering and compared to the actual building and they appear to mirror each other well. Expected completion date is May of 2021.
Tax Levy for 2021 – It should be noted that there was considerable discussion to limit the increase of levy to not impact the citizens any more than necessary. The commissioners seemed very concerned for the tough times of the average citizens during the Covid 19 – 2020 pandemic.
Summary of Accomplishments – In a nod to the outgoing service of Commissioners Redick, Wehrli, and Whelan, President Hebreard listed some of the many notable accomplishments made to district property and organization during their tenure:
- Improvements in the Bartlett area along the West Branch of the DuPage River.
- The Hawk Hallow bridge
- The immense transformation to the Preserve of Oak Meadows creating an award winning natural area within a golf course.
- The building of an efficient Fleet management facility
- Creation of a 5 year master plan in 2019
- Adoption of a building renewal policy to track needed improvements and maintenance needs in the preserve structures.
- Approval of a Wildlife policy
- Completion of phase one and two of the Springbrook Creek re-meandering and habitat improvement project through both St. James Farm and Blackwell preserves.
Hawk Hallow – IEPA performs oversight on this property because a previous owner/farmer allowed septic companies to spread their affluent. Now that it is Forest Preserve property remediation is being done to ascertain the current extent of contamination. Only one area seems to remain of concern. If that area can be remediated, then this property will also become a preserve.
Meeting Dates for 2021 – All commission dates and times will be at 8:00 am on Tuesday mornings, but the planning sessions will have one evening meeting each month between April and September. This allows for the public who work during the day, to attend meetings.
Salary Adjustments – Director Stevenson explained that a study was requested to ascertain that the district salaries are in line with national trends.
Maple Meadows Golf Preserve – A 4-year lease with service and maintenance for electric golf cars has been negotiated for this preserve. The agreement includes some carts with lithium ion batteries. These batteries are more energy efficient and require less maintenance and staff support and they weigh less so are less impacting on the turf where they are used. A reminder that the fees paid by the users finances their use. Last year more than $3000 was generated over the lease fee.
Green Meadows Golf Preserve – A recommendation was made to authorize a contract for the Lease and Maintenance of Golf Cars at Green Meadows Golf Preserve. This preserve in Westmont is only 9 holes so less golf carts are needed, only 18 carts are on the property. This course does not have charging possibility so they use gas carts. They will however be new carts that use 30% less fuel than the older models. Only about 35% or so players use the carts. Commissioner Jeff Gahris asked about the possibility of installing infrastructure for electricity in order to someday allow electric carts at this facility.
Danada/Herrick Lake Regional Trail – Plans are moving forward for Construction of a 4.4 mile trail to connect Danada and Herrick Lake with the community at intersection of Butterfield and Cromwell Drive. IDOT will require compliance in order to build the trail along the Butterfield easement at this intersection. Construction is hoped to begin summer of 2021 and complete by the late fall of 2021. It will provide much needed access for the nearby neighbors in the residential area to two expansive DuPage Forest Preserves.
Pratt’s Wayne Woods – Approval was given for construction and maintenance of sidewalk improvements within the Village of Bartlett related to the North Central DuPage Regional Trail Project in Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve. This trail will help with actual sidewalk construction for 1.5 miles, which will link, to the Prairie Path at Munger Rd. and Smith Rd. Bartlet will maintain the path, although the construction will be built through grants and FP funds. This is an important connection between communities and our trail system. This is phase one engineering so no construction will begin until possibly in late 2021.
Director Stevenson – WOW, news is that Director Stevenson has moved to the role of advisor as the District begins the search for a new director. Thank you for wise and consistent leadership over the past few years, Director Stevenson.
Grounds Management – With 175 miles of trails and an undetermined about of water trail, a presentation was given on managing trails and streams. They are the “gateway” to the preserves. This department is made up of a crew of 14 workers. More than half the miles of trail are limestone with some turf and asphalt as well. After a big rain, limestone repairs are a common effort on the trails. There is a five-year cycle where about 20 miles are resurfaced each year. The bulk of the trail trimming is done in the winter and focuses on high-class ecosystems when more delicate plants are dormant. One effort is to keep a clear line of sight for safety of users. A wider girth around curves is cut for vision of on-coming users. As buckthorn and honey suckle is removed, preferred natives are replanted.
The crews also do erosion repairs and dam fortification when needed. They create drainage structures, and also do some stream bank stabilization projects. There is a constant effort to open streams from logjams due to flooding, for paddlers and easy water flow.
In addition, these crews support snow removal when needed. In the winter, these crews will work on benches made of huge logs as seen along trails.