Has anyone been down to Swan Pond Park lately? It looks a lot like I imagine the great man himself, Fredrick Law Olmsted, must have appeared after a bad day at the lunatic asylum, where he was confined at the end of his life.
It is difficult to sort out which has made matters worse, the extended period of intense neglect or the misguided plantings through the years along the perimeter. Somehow, we have managed to reduce one of nature’s most beautiful vistas within 50 miles of Chicago to a clinking, clanking collection of caliginous junk. No Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore, we are in landscape architecture hell.
Imagine the Olmsted scholar fresh from visits to Central Park and the Biltmore descending on Swan Pond. He’d have us up on charges of child abuse. It really is shameful.
So, who is in charge here? Is it the trustees, the Olmsted Society, the landscape advisory committee, the Department of Parks and Recreation, public works? Certainly, there appears to be no end of bureaucratic infrastructure in place to get something done, or should we start the Department of Swan Pond? Then at least we would know who to blame.
Yes, the park floods, but as a neighbor of mine was saying, it doesn’t take a civil engineering degree to figure out you need to grade it to a low spot and put in a drain back to the river with a check valve. Let’s move forward on this, find out what it costs and fund it.
In the meantime, the enduring maxim “less is more” could not be applied more appropriately than to Swan Pond Park. Unleash the buckthorn fighters and enlist some of the town’s gifted naturalists to clear out the clutter. Maybe if more people could actually see the park and river they would be inclined to demand action.
William H. Anderson Jr.