Once again, residents rally to save Trailside Museum

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JEANETTE FIELDS

 Jane Morocco was one of the founders of a grassroots group that saved Thatcher Wood's Trailside Museum from destruction in 1989 after the Cook County Forest Preserve Commissioners voted to close Trailside Museum. Now, 13 years later, she is rallying residents to save the museum again.
On Oct. 4, Morocco hosted 60 concerned residents and a sympathetic Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri to discuss ways to revive a museum that she says remains underused and poorly managed.
Despite the fact that the grassroots group Citizens for Trailside succeeded in keeping the museum from being destroyed, the group shortly thereafter splintered into two groups and eventually disappeared.
Today, no educational programs have been established and the number of animals being cared for is the lowest in years. Activists were further angered when a new addition was named after a politician, Hal Tyrol, a Cook County commissioner, rather than the museum's legendary founder, Virginia Moe.
Silvestri, who was elected in 1994 and is currently running for re-election, said the cause has been helped by changes in the way commissioners are elected. 
"In the past there were 10 commissioners from Chicago, usually all Democratic, and seven from the suburbs, usually Republican," he said. "The districts were gerrymandered so that, in the past, I did not represent River Forest or Oak Park. If a local resident wanted to reach a commissioner, sometimes he had to call seven commissioners ... And most of the commissioners didn't know or care about Trailside. It was a poor cousin.
"It's different now. I represent all of River Forest and part of Oak Park. I have new status regarding Trailside and I want it community based. It should get funding and resources. The total budget for the Forest Preserves is $147 million and my goal is to make the entire system more efficient and better managed."

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