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Chicago River Improvements Include New Boathouses, Pollution Controls

Posted By Matt Baker On September 21, 2011 @ 8:40 am | No Comments


Click to enlarge.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Monday a plan to enhance the Chicago River’s recreational appeal. The future development would be grounded by four new boathouses, several new boat launches, expansion of riverfront trails and pollution controls of the famed waterway.

The Chicago Park District, using public and private funding, will construct four new boathouses along the river in diverse parts of the city. Chicago architects Jeanne Gang and Chris Lee will lead a team of Illinois Institute of Technology [2]architecture students to design the boathouses. Community suggestions will also augment the boathouse designs. Gang is the recent recipient of a “genius grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation [3].

The boathouse sites were chosen to align with improvements the Chicago Department of Transportation is making to trails along the river. The four boathouses will be at Argyle in River Park [4], just north of Belmont in Clark Park [5], north of 18th Street in Ping Tom Memorial Park [6] and near Ashland and the Stevenson, where Bubbly Creek [7] breaks off from the South Branch of the Chicago River.

“Much like Lake Michigan is Chicago’s front yard, the Chicago River is our backyard, and should be an asset that people across the city enjoy, not avoid,” Emanuel said. “Today’s actions are the first of many steps that will lead to greater use of the river by Chicagoans and visitors alike.”

Despite the increasing prevalence of kayakers and rowers, the Chicago River still needs some cleaning. Earlier this year, the Obama Administration ordered new water quality standards for the Chicago and Calumet River systems. The following month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [8] (EPA) formally demanded of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District [9]and the Illinois Pollution Control Board [10]that the practice of dumping unsterilized sewage into the Chicago River comes to an end.

River cleanup for this project will be spearheaded by $1 million in EPA grants. The EPA will also provide the free technical assistance to the City in order to help meet those goals by better managing stormwater.

One grant will go to the Friends of the Forest Preserve [11]to help eradicate invasive plants in the river system and nearby forests, including 130 acres in Chicago. Another EPA grant was awarded to OAI, Inc. [12], a local non-profit training and education agency, to train and place Chicagoans in jobs that focus on environmental cleanup.

“We have heard for years that we have to choose between our economic strength and our environmental health, but again and again Chicago has proven that this is a false choice,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, who joined Emanuel for the plan’s unveiling. “Today’s announcements are another example of our ability to support job creation and environmental protection.”

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URL to article: http://www.sustainable-chicago.com/2011/09/21/chicago-river-improvements-include-new-boathouses-pollution-controls/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.chicagocodes.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/river-boathouse-proposal-map.jpg

[2] Illinois Institute of Technology : http://www.iit.edu/arch/

[3] John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.7730959/k.848E/Jeanne_Gang.htm

[4] River Park: http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/parks.detail/object_id/f1c70683-18ad-4f6d-857a-736d769bebe5.cfm

[5] Clark Park: http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/parks.detail/object_id/819eb9a3-faee-4c40-9bbc-ed48421e9c95.cfm

[6] Ping Tom Memorial Park: http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/parks.detail/object_id/312b8327-51fb-4d79-984d-b8bd3eb3af32.cfm

[7] Bubbly Creek: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubbly_Creek

[8] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/

[9] Metropolitan Water Reclamation District : http://www.mwrd.org

[10] Illinois Pollution Control Board : http://www.ipcb.state.il.us/

[11] Friends of the Forest Preserve : http://www.fotfp.org/

[12] OAI, Inc.: http://www.oaiinc.org/

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