Mississippi

South Side Voters Speak Up for Trees in Jackson Park and South Shore. Is Anyone Listening? | Chicago News

South Side voters overwhelmingly backed an advisory referendum to stop tree cutting in Jackson Park and the South Shore.  (Save Jackson Park / Facebook)

South Side voters overwhelmingly backed an advisory referendum to stop tree cutting in Jackson Park and the South Shore. (Save Jackson Park / Facebook)

Should the city of Chicago stop cutting down trees in Jackson Park and around the South Shore Cultural Center?

That was the question put to voters in a few South Side counties Tuesday in a non-binding advisory referendum.

An overwhelming number of ballots – 82% – were approved, according to unofficial figures from the Chicago Board of Elections.

What now?

Jeannette Hoyt, leader of the Save Jackson Park movement, acknowledged that the referendum lacks legal force and the victory is therefore largely symbolic. But a message was sent, she said.

“I hope that when communities speak up, someone will be listening,” Hoyt said. “One would hope that the politicians would represent the concerns of the people who elected them.”

In Jackson Park, hundreds of trees were felled to make way for the Obama Presidential Center, and hundreds more may be lost as part of road works associated with the center, she said. Should plans for a proposed Tiger Woods-designed South Shore golf course ever go ahead, thousands of trees would be on the chopping block.

“It’s a huge amount of trees. Some of them are 100 years old, they’re old trees,” Hoyt said. “These are mature trees in their prime producing oxygen.”

Getting rid of so many trees — and with it the shade they provide, the carbon they store, and the air they clean — is a matter of environmental justice and public health, said Hoyt, a longtime educator who also has a master’s – Degree in health care.

It was the public health issue, particularly the high rates of asthma among children on the South Side, that forced Hoyt to spend her weekends knocking on doors and handing out flyers to raise awareness of the election measure.

“We just kept going. At the very least, I hope our Alderman candidates and mayoral candidates are concerned,” she said.

with Ald. After Leslie Hairston announced her retirement, the Fifth Ward, representing parts of Hyde Park, South Shore and Woodlawn, will be up for grabs in 2023. Hoyt wants candidates to participate in forums that focus on the environment.

“It’s getting easy, when do you appreciate trees and when not?” she asked.

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button