To the Editor:
Thank you Jeffrey Bishku-Aykul for writing last week’s article about the restoration plan for Jackson Park, utilizing the original Olmsted Plan to create a beautiful, “democratic” park for all to enjoy. Thank you to everyone on the Hyde Park Herald staff for the coverage over the last four years. JPAC and the Chicago Park District has put in thousands of volunteer hours partnering with the Chicago Park District to plant thousands of trees and plants and create natural habitats in the nature preserves, build playgrounds, repair and build new recreational areas, repair the fieldhouse for community meetings, remove the years of trash and invasive species accumulations, and open up the rich and important history of Jackson Park to the community through free tours, historical feature naming, lectures and community forums, and the Herald covered these events. We believe that every Hyde Parker and every Chicagoan should come to Jackson Park and relax in its peaceful surroundings, play in safe sports and recreation areas and playgrounds, swim on its beautiful and safe beaches and fish in its safe lagoons and harbors.
So it is particularly painful for JPAC members to see the community-wide damage done with the inaccurate headlines that the Herald chose for the restoration plan article this week. We applaud the Park District and the Army Corp of Engineers for being completely transparent through hours of multiple open community meetings, answering every question; including the community in every step of the planning process, and incorporating the community suggestions into the plan. The Herald headlines of all species in the Jackson Park lagoon to be exterminated with poison is inaccurate, and is followed by the statement of “Say goodbye to the fish in the Jackson Park Lagoon,” which is sensational and inaccurate. It will sell newspapers and we support the Herald for its important historic role in making Hyde Park an informed and involved community. But it is just wrong! Removing unhealthy, damaging and invasive species from the waterways to protect native fish habitats is an important ecological fish management practice to maintain those habitats. It produces an abundant fish population which fishermen, women and children can catch and use to feed their families, or simply catch and release as practiced by many fishermen. The restoration plan is about producing more safe areas for fishing, walking, biking and recreating; more natural areas where birds and wildlife can live successfully; more areas where teachers and school children can visit to learn about plants, animals and birds, and fish here in Jackson Park.
So we really hope that this was an error that the Herald staff chose these headlines to characterize this wonderful ecological plan to restore the park utilizing the original Frederick Law Olmsted plan to restore our beautiful Jackson Park. It is a plan which is too big to cover in a couple of newspaper paragraphs. We invite anyone who would like to learn more or ask questions, to attend our JPAC educational meetings the second Tuesday of each month.
Louise McCurry, President
Jackson Park Advisory Council