Chicago to expand open space in Calumet region

December 9, 2011

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(Flickr/Zol87)
Landfill near Lake Calumet and Stony Island Avenue on Chicago's far southeast side.

The largest open space project in the country is coming to the South Side of Chicago. The project aims to transform 140,000 acres of brownfields and other under-utilized land in the Calumet region into the Millennium Reserve — a public recreation hub teeming with plants, wildlife, trains and parks. The effort draws from President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and state resources.

“Our state – we’re putting in $17 million in this mission of reclaiming land and building a special place of nature conservation,” Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday.

The announcement was made near 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Highway. Quinn said the hope is to leverage private money into the overall project. Local officials also say Millennium Reserve will bring economic development and jobs to the area. The first phase won’t be finished for several years.

Environmental groups applauded the announcement and the project’s aims; for years several advocacy organizations have clamored for restoration and greenways.

In a statement, the Sierra Club of Illinois said: “The Millennium Reserve Plan represents the first viable, large-scale attempt to protect and enhance the Lake Calumet area through an integrated, cooperative approach to land and resource management by multiple state, local and federal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations and the local economy.”

In September, another slice of this Southeast Side received promising economic news. U.S. Bank announced that it was donating land for construction of Pullman Park, a mixed-used project. Housing, big-box stores, a park and recreational facility are being planned.

Calumet area considered for Millennium Reserve

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