I am the voluntary co-steward of the McCormick Woods. Over the last 15 years I and other volunteers have worked continuously with Cook County Forest Preserve District to improve the naturalistic quality of this site.
Last year Mr. Douglas Chien and I worked out the plan that would have taken the bike path down Golfview Road on the side of the street opposite of the site. All parties agreed to this plan, but it was apparently changed recently without any further consultation.
Last Saturday, our FPD regional key steward and I walked down the stretch of the site that might possibly be affected by the newly proposed route, and we came to a conclusion that its construction probably would not seriously impact any species of concern nor the overall health of the woods. Therefore, we will not oppose the construction of the bike path down First Avenue.
However, I must add that when I spoke with Mr. Chien last year, I emphasized that our primary concern would always be for the “safety of the students first.” This concern, therefore, prompts me to question whether the proposed path would be in the best interests of this same goal.
In considering the placement of the bike path down a major thoroughfare like First Avenue versus the much less-traveled side road of Golfview Road, has anyone considered that that the First Avenue path might expose the students to a greater vehicular volume, traveling at much higher speeds and largely composed of fast-moving heavy-duty semi-trailer trucks?
I don’t know, maybe this is just a matter of saving costs. And I suppose that most of the pathway is already along First Ave anyway.
And yet, if the Brookfield Zoo would like to avoid the foot traffic on their side of Golfview Road, I would propose that perhaps the pathway could be built on the eastern side of Golfview- that is to say the side that abuts the western edge of the McCormick Woods.
In this way the zoo’s safety concerns would be mitigated and the students and bicyclists would traverse a path away from the heavy traffic of First Avenue. Of course, this would mean making a connecting pathway eastward along 31st Street, which could add to the costs.
In any regard, I do hope that the students of Riverside-Brookfield High and the local area bicycle enthusiasts get a bike path that best serves their needs while keeping within the fiscal responsibilities of the village of North Riverside.
We, the McCormick Woods volunteers, will continue to work to provide the best solution for all parties concerned. We also would like to extend an open invitation to the community to drop by the woods — your woods — to see the continuing activities that are restoring the vigor of this magnificent piece of land.
Bill Marszalec, McCormick Woods co-steward