Kane Co. Forest Preserve Threatens Environmental Group Over Longmeadow Signs
On Saturday, July 18th, the Daily Herald printed a front page article regarding the Kane County Forest Preserve board being uncomfortable with the opposition to Longmeadow Toll Bridge by a local environmental non-profit, Friends of the Fox River. FOFR and School District 300 have an agreement with the Forest Preserve and they lease the Schweitzer House for use as an environmental education center and upstairs office. The house and surrounding property, now called Schweitzer Woods Forest Preserve, was donated to the KCFPD in the 90's, and it was the agreement with FOFR that kept the house from being demolished.
The bone of contention arose when rumors spread among County Board members that not only were FOFR leaders one and the same with Taxpayers Against Longmeadow leaders, but that "Stop Longmeadow" signs were sold out of the Schweitzer house in early 2015.
"Signs were never sold to the public at Schweitzer," said FOFR Administrative Assistant, LuAnne Lewandowski. It seems that some signs were exchanged privately at the house, but never during official FOFR/Schweitzer business and never were they made available to the public there.
While FOFR has come out publicly against Longmeadow, it is only on environmental grounds. "We know we have to be careful to stay within our mission," Swick said. "We oppose Longmeadow for its impact on natural resources and the public use of them. That's part of our mission. That's what we're protecting. And that's it."
Members of Schweitzer Environmental Center, on the other hand, are not all in agreement on the issue. County Board member Joseph Haimann has been a long time supporter of Schweitzer through donations and guidance, and is a regular at Schweitzer events. His support of Longmeadow has been publicly known for years and has never caused a problem.
The Kane County Forest Preserve District board is comprised entirely of members of the Kane County board, all of which are unanimous supporters of the Longmeadow project. The agreement between FOFR and KCFPD has always been a mutually beneficial one, and despite disagreements on this transportation project, nothing should change with that agreement going forward into the future. But, it seems, Longmeadow has become a sensitive issue for politicians and residents alike.
Forest Preserve board Chairman Drew Frasz and others discussed possible ways of cutting ties with FOFR/Schweitzer, a move that many see as political chicanery rather than genuinely justified action. "When in politics, it's supposed to be agree to disagree," Swick said. "It shouldn't become personal, but I think it's really getting that way for some people."
Swick hopes forest preserve district officials can respect both the educational work of the Friends of the Fox River group and the mission-generated opposition to the Longmeadow Parkway.
Let it be made very clear right here: Taxpayers Against Longmeadow Toll Bridge are not now, nor have ever been, under the direction or leadership of any other group, including Friends of the Fox River. In fact, the majority of opposition to the project is now coming from residents that live along Longmeadow itself!
To read the full article, go here: