I am a resident of Oak Park, moving here from Germany a good two years ago. With my 6-month-old son I need and enjoy the green environment of all the parks in this village. A great loss was the cutting down of all the lovely trees on the Marion Street mall as is its destruction. Malls are the key feature to attract tourists in every town in Europe as well as the parks with mature and ancient trees.

Now here, in the Land of the Free, another family of beautiful and old trees in Field park are planned to be cut down. My family of three attended the rally to save them and were shocked by the details. The children present who represented all the other school children who use the trees as outdoor shade and gathering points and who also play soccer do not want a huge soccer field. They say it is not needed. Many soccer fields are not very well used anyway.

It is a matter of increasing the size of the athletic fields to the point where the park is restricted to the perimeter of the park, like a fence row on a farm field. It’s a major change of character and use – to the very worse!

SO, who has planned this and for WHOM? If this is a democratic community, which I have growing doubts about, then the people who live here MUST have a say in decisions that affect them directly. None of the people who arranged for the planting of the memorial trees were contacted (according to the park district board and staff at the rally), making this another example of disrespecting the wishes of residents.

If Oak Park has indeed signed a Green Pact, then such cutting down of trees should be entirely out of the question in ANY plan. If it is all about preservation and renovation, the same applies.

Some trees are planned for removal and replanting. At this time of year it is likely that none of the trees will survive since they are not dormant – trees are dormant from the late fall though the late winter.

We all pay taxes to support conservation and protection efforts by paying salaries  and we are outraged that $399,000 or even double this amount is being given to the Park District of Oak Park to destroy a stand of decades-old trees, destroy sloping hills, emasculate a wonderful winding path between the trees, and turn a green space into an global warming producing, barren Olympic-size soccer field.

All our tax money will be abused here. We do not want it to be spent against our will.

What we need is a responsible and responsive politics here in Oak Park which works with and for the Community, not against them and for certain lobby or interest groups. Those decision-makers have the duty to serve the community; that is their mandate. Else they have to go!

We ask you to stand up against the destruction of the trees and prevent their demise. We demand support for this issue. We want a public investigation into the ways these decisions have been made and how the responsible parties probably deceived the public by notifying them only “5 minutes to 12.”

This park is public space and thus belongs to the residents!

We depend on your help and trust you will be supportive in trying to save those trees and help a compromise settling the issue.

Almut Roberts, Craig Roberts and Sherlock Alwyn
Oak Park

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