By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
In 2004, Chicago opened Millennium Park which has lead to $1.4 billion of economic activity in the area. Now they've unveiled plans for a much larger open space project. Check out the impressive stats.
Chicago knows firsthand that parks lead to economic development. Since opening Millennium Park in 2004, Chicago has seen $1.4 billion in economic activity in the surrounding area.
With that recent success in mind, the city has even bigger open space plans for Chicagoland. Plans are in place to build the largest urban park in the contiguous United States. Atlantic Cities reports:
A new project, backed by at least $17 million from the state, aims to turn 140,000 acres of under-used and post-industrial land along the Second City's southern rim into a public recreation hub called the Millennium Reserve.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn hopes to add private funding to the project, figuring the reserve will boost the economy and create hundreds of jobs. Environmental groups have been calling for a makeover for the Calumet region for years. "The Millennium Reserve Plan represents the first viable, large-scale attempt to protect and enhance the Lake Calumet area through an integrated, cooperative approach to land and resource management," the Sierra Club of Illinois said in a statement.
The open space will help to revitalize vacant industrial land in the Chicago region -- there are 2,000 acres of brownfields in the project area.
Some more fun facts:
- 53 miles of trails will connect to Millennium Park
- 40 miles of coastline along Lake Michigan will be restored
- 15,000 acres of open space are included in Phase 1 of the project
It's an important area for the city and region to redevelop into open space from it's previous industrial life because, as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, "[L]ake [Michigan] is our Grand Canyon, is our Yellowstone Park."
"A Plan for America's Largest Urban Park" [Atlantic Cities]
Photo: Millennium Reserve
Dec 20, 2011
With thoughtful planning, nature can shine through and starlight too. Keep the urban out and turn nature on. . . bring revitalization to thousands of acres and millions of hearts and souls that energizes the spirit, imagination and will. Bring it on!
Hmmmm. Looks like Chicago has figured out yet another way to suck Downstate tax dollars north. We've been drained dry by projects to help create jobs for Chicagoans. Our unemployment rates are astronomical in Southern Illinois. The state is 2 years behind on paying its bills because they say they are broke, and the vendors who have provided goods and services to them are taking it on the chin. When does it stop?
Great news. Parks, besides offering better economic activity, also increases the standards of living in surrounding areas. Good job Chicago! Cheers! Juan Miguel Ruiz (Going Green) http://www.GreenJoyment.com
To the Downstate crowd, here is a reality check on where the State gets its revenue: Cook County ??? which with 5 million residents is the nation's second most-populous county ??? is the state's economic engine and key tax generator, providing substantial contributions to the state's other 101 counties for everything from schools to roads, colleges and universities, and prisons. The Chicago area last year generated 81.6 percent of the $652 billion in gross state product, according to Lawrence Msall, president of the Chicago-based Civic Federation, a nonpartisan think tank specializing in tax policy and government research. In 2009, $3.5 billion ??? some 40 percent ??? of the $8.7 billion the state collected in income tax was attributable to Cook County, which also was responsible for roughly 36 percent, or $2.2 billion, of the $6.2 billion the state generated in sales taxes, Msall said. "There's no getting around that Chicago and Cook County are the goose that lays many golden eggs distributed to downstate counties," Jim Nowlan, senior fellow of the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, told the AP. "Without Chicago and Cook County, the state would be a much poorer entity than it is now." There is no argument that the State has been financially irresponsible. However make sure you look at boondoggle projects like the empty Mid-American Airport near St. Louis, six lane interstates between Springfield and Lincoln when four lanes are barely needed, the Tamms prison, interstate connecting Galesburg and Peoria, etc. etc. The Millennium Reserve is a long term investment in the environment that is accessible to millions of people. We have subsidized all the state parks for decades--vast majority of them being downstate and used by downstate residents-- that you have used for free all these years. Since we have almost no state parks up here, we had to pay for our own forest preserve system and park districts. Bottom line: Don't bite the hand that feeds you.