Some things never change in Riverside.

While there have occasionally been glimmers of hope that Riverside would join the 21st century at some point, the supporters of the “What would Olmsted have done?” philosophy persist in keeping Riverside firmly anchored in the 19th century. 

The hardcore Olmsted Society members have managed to maintain control through the Landscape Advisory Commission and its adherence to their inflexible interpretation of Olmsted’s intentions as they imagine them. 

The current “Hibiscus War,” like the old “Petunia War,” only serves to make the LAC a laughingstock in the surrounding communities. The fact that the possibility exists for other “interpretations” besides those of the Riverside Olmsted Society, and its puppet, the LAC, never is allowed to see the light of day.

Further, if the LAC is going to be hardline in its designation of permissible parkway plantings, its members need to get out of their séances with Olmsted once in a while and drive around Riverside and identify the other parkway scofflaws that exist. 

All these parkway miscreants need to be subjected to the same public embarrassment and held to the same rigid standards. Perhaps we can bring back colonial stocks and pillories for more public humiliation of violators.

If the LAC truly wanted to preserve the natural beauty of Riverside, it would need to develop some viable sustainability initiatives, like its neighbor to the north, River Forest. 

Instead of a landscape commission, River Forest has a sustainability commission which has developed innovative programs to create a more environmentally sustainable landscape. 

The Green Block Party program, in conjunction with the Deep Roots Project, promotes “pollinator parkways” with plans available on their website for sun and shade pollinator gardens, sustainable, chemical-free lawn care, home composting among other green initiatives. 

Of course, developing programs like this would require some effort; interpretations are so much easier.

Jacquelyn Paine