Green and for the Games | Letters | Chicago Reader

Green and for the Games 

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In the race to win public benefits from Chicago potentially hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016, Lake County residents have been given an incredible head start. With the help of private funding, a small farm field owned by the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) would become a world-class equestrian facility during the 2016 Games, and afterward be converted into a unique community asset ["They Say Nay" by Ben Joravsky, July 6].

The equestrian center at Lakewood Forest Preserve would provide an incredible positive legacy that would benefit future generations, and cost taxpayers nothing. It would maintain and improve public access to miles of existing horse trails, and offer people, young and old, the opportunity to enjoy a classic Olympic sport. Additionally, the center would host therapeutic and adaptive riding programs to better serve the needs of area children and adults.

All of this will be done while maintaining the precious environmental balance of Lakewood Forest Preserve and showcasing the beauty of Lake County to the rest of the world.

LCFPD has been honored with regional and national awards for its ability to properly balance its multi-purpose mission of preservation, restoration, education, and recreation. As part of planning for renovation of Lakewood, the district had conducted an environmental assessment long before being contacted about the Olympics. The district had determined that the specific site proposed was not sensitive ecologically and was available for public use. Preliminary designs showed that the center could be created in a responsible fashion that would include buffers and other protections for the species in the area.

For these reasons and more, the proposal has received widespread support from people all over Lake County.

Now that we are confirmed as the United States nominee, detailed planning can determine more completely how we will protect the environment and mitigate traffic and other concerns.

However, a small but vocal minority who oppose bringing the Games to Lake County are attempting to derail the project. Some have made misleading statements. Some are opposed to any changes. Others have raised issues that the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee and the LCFPD already identified during our initial planning, or that our detailed planning will answer going forward. We take all of these issues seriously and are accelerating our normal assessment process to get answers to key questions as soon as possible.

Both the LCFPD and Chicago 2016 are committed to respecting the Forest Preserve environment while bringing positive benefits to the community. We look forward to working with all interested parties to develop a proposal that showcases the greatness of Lake County and leaves a positive legacy for decades to come.

Bonnie Thomson Carter

President

Lake County Forest Preserve District

Patrick G. Ryan

Chairman & CEO

Chicago 2016 Exploratory Committee

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