Even with those issues, the District is looking forward to exploring the site’s potential to see what could be done to convert a pocket of open space once dedicated to incarceration into a place for recreation.
While the Forest Preserve is considering participating in the open space component of the prison site plan, nothing would happen until the city acquires ownership of the site and lines up partners to tackle the various elements of redevelopment, Schultz said.
For those who might ask why the Forest Preserve would consider creating a preserve in the shadow of a prison, Schultz said it’s the same reason the District preserved iron manufacturing remnants at Joliet Iron Works Historic Site, farm buildings at Riverview Farmstead Preserve, tombstones nestled in presettlement prairie at Vermont Cemetery Preserve, former railroad paths that were turned into the Wauponsee Glacial Trail and the Old Plank Road Trail, and former quarries at Lake Chaminwood, Rock Run Rookery and Whalon Lake preserves.
“Those are all sites that have been manipulated by us, humans, that we are doing our best to transition and make usable for recreation while preserving the natural flora and fauna,” he said. “It’s about conservation of not only natural resources, but also natural heritage, which involves man’s interaction with nature, as well as nature itself.”
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