Are Riverside Lawn’s days numbered? It’s sure beginning to look that way.
Real estate appraisers are making the rounds and more than 90 percent of property owners reportedly are interested in hearing what the Cook County Land Bank has to offer.
If enough people choose to sell their properties to the county, what’s left of rural Riverside will essentially disappear.
Sure there may be holdouts; the county is not forcing anyone to sell. But what will be left for any of those who choose to stick it out? Neighboring homes will be demolished and the properties will melt into the surrounding forest preserves.
Those who do remain likely will see their costs for fire protection rise. And those who remain will become increasingly isolated, posing possible safety concerns.
Owners of homes that line 39th Street, which don’t really suffer from the flooding issues that plague those nearer the river, likely won’t have much incentive to sell. The roadway is sure to be maintained since it’s the way in and out for the Riverside Public Works Department.
In addition, the village of Lyons might be interested in annexing the properties. The fire department already provides the fire protection services and Lyons police often respond to incidents there, since Cook County Sheriff’s Police don’t spend a whole lot of time in the unincorporated section of Riverside Township.
Riverside Lawn does have its own history, however, and there are homes there, particularly near the river, that date to the 19th century and were important to the development of early Riverside Township.
Someday in the future — quite possibly in the near future — those homes are going to be simply a memory.
We’d suggest that perhaps the Riverside Historical Commission might take on a project to collect as much information and document the homes of Riverside Lawn.
Or, failing that, perhaps Riverside Township — which is charged with whatever governing happens in Riverside Lawn — could spend a little of the tax dollars it receives from the township for such a project.
The swinging bridge, which connects Riverside to Riverside Lawn is owned by the township and serves as both a physical and symbolic connection between the two areas. It would be only proper for Riverside Township to wish to preserve what it can of the history of the area it governs.
As the county buys up the homes of Riverside Lawn, perhaps the commission could gain access to photograph them prior to their demolition. With some families in the Lawn stretching back generations, it also might provide an opportunity to compile an oral history of the area as well.
If you’ve ever walked through Riverside Lawn, you know how different it is from Riverside or even from Lyons, just across 39th Street. It’s a step back in time that ought to be documented before it no longer exists.
Which could be any time now.