Joining Illinois Sierra Club Members in Lake and Northeastern Cook Counties

Spring 2005, Issue #41

In This Issue 
Go To Article Endorsement: Jeff Werfel for Grayslake Mayor Go To Article Commuter Trains to Milwaukee
Go To Article Municipal Endorsements Go To Article New W&W Public Meetings
Go To Article Lake County Transportation Referendum Go To Article W&W 2005 Outings
Go To Article Join the Conservation Committee! Go To Article Portable W&W News
Go To Article 403 kBNext Issue of W&W News Go To Article Last Issue of W&W News

 
 

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Endorsement: Jeff Werfel
Candidate for Mayor of Grayslake
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Acting on the recommendation of its Grayslake Political Committee, the Sierra Club has endorsed Jeff Werfel in the race for Mayor of Grayslake. Running at the top of the Grayslake Unity Ticket, Jeff is advancing a thoughtful, progressive, and Earth-friendly program for the village. Jeff proposes:
  • Environmentally sensitive commercial development to benefit the community's tax base with little or no new residential development or, if new residential development must be allowed, only high density development for which a compelling "business case" has been made.
  • Invigoration of Grayslake's now moribund Open Space Committee to coordinate land protections strategies and investigate ways to protect that community's natural resources, like Gray's Lake.
  • Greater cooperation and coordination with other units of government and private community organizations in order to preserve open space.

 

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  • Development of cooperative relationships with area farmers to promote locally grown produce, encourage new and alternative farming methods and creative uses for farmland that might otherwise be developed into single family home subdivisions.
  • Education and outreach to develop community appreciation and stewardship of the environment, including preservation of trees, wildlife habitat, and landscapes like the native savanna.

Jeff opposes the proposed extension of Atkinson Road though the wetlands south of Route 120.

Jeff resides in the Prairie Crossing community and is currently a Grayslake village trustee acutely sensitive to the needs of the village's taxpayers. He is also a member of the Nature Conservancy and of the board of the Liberty Prairie Conservancy.

Donations can be sent to:

Citizens For Jeff Werfel
550 Bluestem Lane
Grayslake, Illinois 60030

If you can volunteer, please phone 847-223-5409.

The Club urges each of its Grayslake members to vote for Jeff Werfel on April 5.

Moreover, we hope that members in other municipalities prone to the ravages of sprawl development will be encouraged by the action of this team of Grayslake Sierra Club members, and form Sierra Club endorsement committees in the next election cycle.

 


Green Oaks Mayoral Race
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In our winter issue we questioned the practices and plans of Tom Adams for Green Oaks and Lake County's wetlands. His hope to replace wetlands with skyscrapers and retention ponds, and eagerness to accept development proposals with questionable developers, drew our attention. We're glad to learn that Green Oaks will have a better choice for mayor on the April 5th ballot.

 

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A few days after the W&W News arrived in the mail we were pleased to receive a phone call from Carol Fischer promising to do more as mayor to protect Green Oaks' wetlands and open space, and improve the way the village conducts business.

While we would have preferred to have a few members from Green Oaks run our endorsement process, we hope that our members will choose the candidate who promises to do more than ≥balance≤ development at the expense of the environment.


Lake County Transportation Tax Referendum Return to Top

by Evan Craig

Lake County will be asking voters to approve a half percent sales tax increase on April 5 to support its proposed Road Improvement Program. After careful review, W&W has decided to take a neutral position and offer our members a list of pros and cons, and some perspective. This was a difficult decision for the group's Executive Committee.

Improvements we have supported for years.

The county's proposed Program offers several improvements that we have supported in the context of an improved transportation system for years:

  • Intersection improvements: Congestion on many of our local roads is exacerbated by back-ups waiting for left and right turners. Turn lanes can go a long way to reduce these bottlenecks, and reduce air pollution from idling SUVs, trucks and cars.
  • Intelligent Transportation System: Considering the money we pay for traffic controls already, it's maddening that coordination of traffic lights lacks the intelligence of a video game. The program promises ITS to help you make all the lights on traffic corridors in the area east of Rt. 94, and holds promise for making buses more efficient and attractive by giving them the green too. However, with the budget cuts threatened for mass transit by Illinois, it's unclear whether there will be many PACE or CTA buses around to use it.
  • Focus on strategic regional arterials: About 40% of the roads included on the county's program were included in ELPC's Crossroads plan. The Crossroads Plan offered a superior congestion relief alternative to the sprawl and congestion that Rt. 53 would cause, and included expanded mass transit linked with improved SRAs. This Program offers incremental progress on this front.
  • A rail underpass at Rt. 60 and the WI Central: With more trains needed, and more coming when double tracking of this route is complete, more grade separations like this one proposed near Butterfield Rd. make lots of sense.

Unfortunately, there are many signs that the money could be spent in a zero sum game. While road improvements are definitely needed across the county, every transportation study that neglects mass transit improvements and the true costs of sprawl predicts more congestion, not less. We won't beat traffic in Lake County by building more of the same. We need a different approach that directs growth away from open space and grows vibrant communities that pollute less.

How Lake County misses the mark
  • No Mass Transit: Lopsided transportation plan. Aside from the underpass and possibilities of ITS, this plan lacks any commitment to the more efficient ways to grow and get around. Money is needed for expanded parking and improved METRA stations, for extended and expanded rail service, and more buses. This is crucial to break away from the vicious circle of chasing bad development with roads that cause it, and instead encourage development around transit.

 

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  • County money for state roads: About half of the county's Program is for state roads that the state already plans to improve. And the other half is for state roads that are presently not planned for improvement. Why isn't the state paying for our state roads? We are concerned that the failure of Lake County legislators to bring home state transportation funds will get worse if Springfield considers this sales tax a new revenue source for the state transportation budget. With an austere budget, attempts by Springfield to reallocate dedicated funding sources have become common.
    Lake County has a great need, but gets less than other collar counties that need less. Last year Will County, which has a freeway, bypasses developer impact fees, and also shares our plight of no gas tax, took home $135M more state transportation dollars than Lake County.
    We believe this is because the attention of our legislators is divided between growing a sensible transportation system, and the efforts of a few misguided legislators who perennially attempt to grab money for the environmentally devastating Rt. 53 boondoggle. While Rt. 53 is no longer in the state's transportation plan, the hew and cry from those hoping it will relieve the congestion caused by sprawl is just as shrill now as ever. At a recent Village Board meeting where the county presented its program, the Mayor of Vernon Hills even sought to divert some of these referendum funds directly to Rt. 53. Unless they stop fighting about 53, it's likely that these sales tax funds will be siphoned off as offsets to other counties as well.
  • Weak promises: The referendum does not bind the county to the Program it proposes. If it passes, the program will change as projects are found to be less feasible or more attractive, and as intense lobbying occurs. Only when the tax revenues are used to back loans will the money be committed to specific projects, and the program puts that off for several years. This sales tax is expected to raise at least $500M, and we think it should be more committed to a more balanced system.
  • Ignores other funding: Other counties and smart villages charge developers impact fees. These raise road revenues, and encourage more compact development patterns that conserve open space. Lake County could but does not. The Program also makes no mention of money available as generous Congestion Mitigation / Air Quality grants from the federal government that could account for 50% of the Program funding. Absent also is an accounting for any contribution by the municipalities where ITS will be implemented. Altogether these could double the available funds, leaving half of the money unaccounted for by the Program. These oversights further highlight the question of how the money will be spent, and raise the question why the county is asking for a half percent rather than the amount sought with no Program in its last referendum.

There have been a lot of hasty road plans recently, including the Tollway's Rt. 355 Extension plan and its toll hikes which are pushing trucks onto Rt. 41, and they ignore the effects on the air and our health. We need transportation system improvements that put us on a track toward more sensible and sustainable development. If this Transportation Sales Tax Referendum passes, we hope that efforts are pursued to address these remaining concerns.


Join Our Free E-mail Lists! Return to Top

Members are invited to join the W&W group's e-mail lists. On the ALERTS list you will receive infrequent timely posts from the Group Chair (only), primarily on local issues. Some of these appear on this website, and if you subscribe you will learn about them in time to help. The ISSUES list allows you to share in a discussion with other W&Wers. To sign up, just visit each of these websites and click Join :

ALERTS

ISSUES

We do not share e-mail address lists, and you can remove yourself from either list at any time.

 


Join the Conservation Committee! Return to Top

By Larry Marvet
As your incoming Conservation Chair, let me introduce myself. My environmental interests have always focused on conservation issues, like protecting wetlands and wildlife. I started by walking Ft. Lauderdale beaches from 11 pm to 2 am to help nesting sea turtles. (My legs still hurt from that.) The Everglades needed help - and still does - so I joined with some great activists to help a little, and learn a lot.

Two children and a move from tropical Florida to arctic Chicago slowed me down for a few years, but Bush environmental policy and idling bulldozers at my local forest preserve have reawakened me.

If you are reading this article, you didn't join Sierra Club to improve your resume. At the least, you want to learn about environmental issues in your area and beyond. And, perhaps, you've wondered what you can do help.

That is what the Conservation Committee is about.

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We'll meet on the 4th Wednesday of each month to discuss local, state and national environmental issues, or issues you bring to the meetings. And we'll talk about ways to act on those issues from phone calls - to letter writing - to Congressional meetings - to whatever creative ideas we can come up with.

Come and just listen at our little meeting, or to lobby on Capitol Hill - or anything in between. Knowledge is the best weapon we have in these days of clever spin and newspeak. If you want to make a difference, please join us on:

Wednesday, March 23, 7pm
College of Lake County
Southlake Educational Center
1120 S Milwaukee Ave, Room l04
Vernon Hills

This is a brown brick building about 0.2 miles north of Route 45 on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue. Park in the back.

 


Metra to Milwaukee 
Cleaner air, less traffic and less sprawl Return to Top

Six southeast Wisconsin counties and cities are working together to develop a 33-mile extension of the Chicago Metra Union Pacific North rail line. It will use upgraded existing rail to connect northeastern Illinois and Chicago to the Wisconsin communities of Kenosha, Somers, Racine, Caledonia, Oak Creek, South Milwaukee, Cudahy and Milwaukee (Amtrak station).

The Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) Metra commuter train extension is an attractive transportation plan that will:

  • Provide modern, efficient, reliable connection to a multitude of world-class employment and educational opportunities - and cultural, entertainment and recreation destinations to the north.
  • Provide a fast, reliable, easy, and affordable alternative to congested highway travel, and is less subject to weather and construction delays. It will use existing rail right-of-way.
  • Be accessible and a practical alternative for commuting with 362,100 jobs and 540,000 residents projected within 3 miles of the proposed stations in Wisconsin. Three out of Wisconsin's five largest cities are on the KRM route. Milwaukee is the 19th largest city in the U.S.

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  • Cut down on traffic by offering more transportation options. KRM commuter rail extension is projected to reduce cars on I-94 north of the Illinois border by up to 12 %.
  • Cut air pollution. Most rail-ridership will be diverted from autos, which cause 75% of our hazardous air pollution.
  • Reduce sprawl by directing future development to existing communities around transit stops. Commuter trains encourage transit-oriented development, resulting in communities that are more efficiently served by transit.
The sensible solution to the problems of sprawl and traffic is to expand our transportation choices.

The sensible solution to the problems of sprawl and traffic is to expand our transportation choices. More travel choices can reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, promote neighborhood economic opportunities, and help to control sprawl. It also helps to build safer, more vibrant communities.

Find information and updates at www.transitnow.org or by phoning Transit NOW at 262-246-6151.

 


New W&W Public Meetings Return to Top

Recently, some of our W&W members have begun coming to ExCom Meetings and asking, "So where's everybody else?" Willing to wait their turn on the agenda, they come to ask when and where the group's Public Meetings are, and a few volunteered to find a meeting spot and time where we can invite all our members to come together.

The new W&W Public Meetings will be held monthly on every Third Tuesday starting on

April 19, 7:00 pm
Fremont Township Office
22376 W. Erhart
intersection of Peterson and Rt. 60

The highlight of the meetings will be a 45 minute information session presented by a specialist, with an opportunity for members to get involved to make a difference.

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We'll have some time to meet other members and talk about where we've been - and where we'd like to go - and give leaders a chance to make short announcements. Those with kids or work the next morning should be able to get home by 9:30 unless they stick around to discuss the evening's topics and help clean up.

Initial topics might include:

  • Restore the Nippersink,
  • Coyotes Next Door,
  • Midewin: TNT Factory to Tall Grass Prairie,
  • Journey to The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,
  • The Redrock Wilderness, Photographing Nature,
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation
  • or a topic of popular demand

For the night's special topic, check Meetings. Contact ww-chair@illinois.sierraclub.org if you have topic that you think others will want to know about.

This is for you. Come have fun.

 


Woods & Wetlands Outings Return to Top

Thanks to all those who took our online Outing survey in January. After studying the results, the new W&W Outings Committee has surged ahead, planning several outings that we're now sure you'll enjoy!

 Those who have signed onto the Outings e-mail list, and those of you who keep track of the W&W Group activity through the website got first crack at these outings, but it's not too late for those reading this W&W News to sign up.

Here is a brief list of the outings at press time:

April 2, Saturday 10:00 a.m.
Arctic Photo Exhibit at Field Museum,
Chicago

Stunning exhibition of photographs by Subankkar BanerjeečArctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land. We'll see the exhibit and have lunch. E-mail evan.craig@illinois.sierraclub.org or call 847-680-6437.

To learn more about these outings and join the outings list visit the Outings page.

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April 28-May 1, Thursday-Sunday
Hiking Shawnee by Amtrak,
Chicago to Carbondale
Daily hikes from local lodging will include box canyon, pine forest, and Camp Hutchins Proposed Wilderness during the spring wildflower and migratory bird fantasia. Estimated cost of $300 includes train from Chicago, rental carpool, single lodging and meals. Camp sites available. E-mail evan.craig@illinois.sierraclub.org or call 847-680-6437.

May 22, Sunday 10:45 am
Hike Camp Sagawau,
Palos Preserves

The only way to see the only canyon in Cook Countyča tour guided by Cook County Forest Preserve staff. Bring your own brunch. $3. Contact barbara.bell@illinois.sierraclub.org or call 847-367-4253.

June 18, Saturday
Fox River Day Canoe Trip,
Chain O' Lakes State Park
Bring picnic lunch and meet at 11:30 am. Canoeing basics overview for beginners. Rent canoes from the concessionaire at the boat launch. Cost per canoe is $11 /4 hour trip. E-mail geno.spain@illinois.sierraclub.org or call 847-526-8409 after April 1.

 


PDA Readable W&W News Return to Top

Here's a handy version of this issue of the W&W News in pdf that reads well on a PDA (Portable Data Assistant, a.k.a "Palm Pilot"). It's 265kB and you'll need the Adobe Acrobat translator to prepare it for synchronization with your PDA. If you want to give a copy to a friend who has a PDA, we suggest beaming it over. Another option for taking this on your PDA is AvantGo, a free service that lets you download and synch web pages with your PDA. Just have it synch this one from http://illinois.sierraclub.org/w&w/wwnews/WWNewsletter41.html .

If you need a paper version to give a copy to a friend who doesn't have internet access, you can either print this webpage (8 pages) or the pdf (10 pages).

 


Contributions Welcome

Contact the Group Chair to discuss the issue and how much space to take, or send your finished article directly to our Newsletter Designer.

 

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