The Oak Park Park District plan to REMOVE all the trees in the center of Field Park, including the beloved 120-year old black locust, the "Field Playground tree," to accommodate a 110 x 60 yard soccer field was done without citizen knowledge, without adequate public notice, without notifying the Illinois Department of Natural Resources of the change from the original plan, and without the knowledge of our State Senator, who grew up as a young boy playing in that park. 

The cost has increased from $798,000 to $1.2 million even before the project has begun.  The taxpayers of Oak Park share has doubled, from $400,000 to $800,000.  We feel betrayed that the trust we placed in voting to pass the Park District tax-increase referendum has been misplaced.  

Furthermore, after touring the Park, we begin to question the entire project.  The fencing, tot lot equipment, ball fields, and landscaping are in nearly pristine shape and would be the envy of most communities.  The %u201Cnew%u201D trees will be planted along the fences, without providing the nooks and crannies, the shade for the winding paths, and the ambiance of the bountiful grove.   The exisiting trees are IRREPLACEABLE.  We believe that maintenance is required in some areas, but the price tag of $1.2 million on the beleaguered taxpayers of Oak Park is excessive. 

The trees of the park are home to many birds, squirrels, and the Field Park owl, whose hoot-hoots are a joy to the neighborhood.  The trees are used by the adjacent school children for play and gathering.  They provide a retreat for book-lovers of all ages, who lie under their bountiful shade to read, for families with their children, and for sustenance from the natural world.

WE CALL UPON THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES TO ADHERE TO ITS MISSION STATEMENT: "Our mission is to manage, protect, and sustain Illinois' natural and cultural resources; provide resource-compatible recreational opportunities; and promote natural resource-related public safey, education, and science.  Critical to operation of this diverse agency and formulation of fair and equitable policies is receiving input from our constituents and informing readers of current issues."

We, Friends of the 120-Year Old Locust Tree, in that spirit provide this petition:

WE THE UNDERSIGNED desire that ALL THE TREES in Field Park be preserved, that any plans for a soccer field be down-sized, and that serious consideration be given to withdrawing the entire funding so that Oak Park taxpayer money is not unnecessarily spent.

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