Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tearing down the concrete wall...

It's always great to share good news! While I wasn't able to attend today's meeting at the City of Highland Park, Adair Fell provided me with an initial brief report on the meeting. The signal tower will not be built at the original location on the east side of the tracks. Instead, according to Adair,
"the tower structure location is to be moved from the head of Cherokee and replaced with a much smaller foot print on the east side of the tracks. The metal shed can be placed about two feet off the ground next to the underpass. Best materials available will be used to hide the shed and make it blend in with surroundings. There will be signal poles at the track level. There are poles there now that will be removed, and a pole on each side of the tracks will take their place.

The present concrete structure will be removed and everything that has been cleared will be replaced, planting, sodding , etc."
Adair also shared with various residents that at the meeting today, Tom Zaplar, Director of Public Affairs & Metra Relations said they had made a "grievous mistake."

It's good to know that a group of residents can get together and make a difference!

While I'm happy to know that the signal tower won't be in the Fell's and Fishhaut's side yard, I am concerned about it being flopped over to the other side of the underpass. There are residents across the street and, yes, there are still children and families using the underpass. According to Adair,
Nancy Rotering, Councilman, sees things the same way and told the group that she did not feel that having the shed anywhere near the underpass would be safe for children.

The report is that the Union Pacific said they would take another look at the plans for the project to see how much leeway there was for moving to another site. One of the Union Pacific engineers said that if the Braeside Station Parking Lot could accommodate their requirements, they would move the site there. I still don't have a clue why they can't move the tower in to Cook County. I'd encourage everyone to write Mr. Zaplar and confirm that this signal tower needs to be moved south, as in Cook County.

In any event, even if the outcome is not completely known yet, there was an important victory today with regard to maintaining the lovely Braeside neighborhood just west of the underpass. While the Metra wasn't respectful of HP residential property at the outset, it has demonstrated good faith by stating it will take down the existing concrete that was just erected and that they will clean up the site with appropriate landscaping. I'm looking forward to seeing these improvements soon, especially since that area has looked so bad for so long. Thank you to the Metra for responding to the neighborhood complaints.

Congratulations to Adair for her extraordinary and successful efforts to eliminate the signal tower at the west side of the overpass. Well done!

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