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Thursday Letters: Don't hand forest preserve land to Palos Park

Cook County Forest Preserve District commissioners are poised next month to take a critical step in enabling the Village of Palos Park to seize 2,000 of acres of undeveloped land in Lemont Township as part of a politically motivated deal that will lead to high-density commercial development and an influx in residential housing.

By doing so, the Forest Preserve District would take an unusual step to settle a land dispute between two municipalities and circumvent Lemont’s home-rule authority over buying land and making development decisions in the village’s back yard.

The land is located in Lemont Township and surrounded by the Village of Lemont. This proposal would split Lemont in half, creating an “island community” of Palos Park residents, who would live eight miles away from the actual village, while residing footsteps from Lemont. Because the property is not contiguous to Palos Park, newly appointed commissioner (and Palos Park resident) Sean Morrison is lobbying his fellow commissioners to create a land bridge by allowing Palos Park to annex a 140-acre portion of forest preserve land.

This scheme benefits wealthy developers. But it’s easier to determine who loses:

* Lemont taxpayers who get no revenue but whose tax dollars would provide police and fire services to the area.

* Local schools, which would accommodate an extra 2,600 students, leading to larger class sizes and lower student-teacher ratios.

* Palos Park, whose residents’ tax money will have to pay for infrastructure improvements for an area several miles away.

* Cook County residents, whose commissioners would usurp local control and relinquish preserve land for political benefit, setting a dangerous precedent for the future.

We urge Cook County commissioners to take a neutral stance and refuse to have Commissioner Morrison use them as a pawn to get his way.

Brian Reaves

Mayor of Lemont

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Support all rape victims

Staff at YWCA Metropolitan Chicago affirm the personhood of all survivors of sexual abuse and assault independent of their gender identity, ability, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, or how they support themselves financially. The brutal sexual assault of a woman by a stranger does not invalidate the sexual assault of a prostituted woman by her john. As advocates, counselors, educators and allies we must not attempt to categorize the experience of one survivor as more or less heinous than another or decide “what a rape victim looks like.” Our role is to support and believe all victims.

Sexual assault is well-defined by Illinois criminal statutes. Those statutes do not differentiate across gender identity, ability, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, or type of employment.

Anne Pezzillo

Director, Sexual Assault Counseling Services

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

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