Canal Shores Road Vote Fails Environment, Says Friends of the Chicago River

A proposal to build a road through the 10th fairway of Canal Shores Golf Course, threatening wetlands and wildlife, passed Thursday November 15, 2018 on a 5-4 vote by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board.

Friends of the Chicago River Executive Director Margaret Frisbie issued this statement criticizing the vote:

“The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board’s vote to allow a road to be built through an environmentally sensitive area along the North Shore Channel puts the interests of a private developer above those of the environment. We thank those board members who voted no on this issue but the final tally reflects a failure by the majority to fulfill the district’s mission.

“That mission includes guarding the health and safety of the public, improving the quality of water in the district, and protecting businesses and homes from flood damage. This paved road through a critical ecological area on an MWRD property harms open space that provides habitat for wildlife, serves as an important community asset, and absorbs stormwater.

“We commend the public, including our membership, who reached out to the MWRD board in great numbers to express their view that the Chicago River system is a valued asset that needs to be protected.”

Two dozen people testified before the MWRD board Thursday in opposition to the 60-by-426-foot road, which was requested by the Cook County Highway Department on behalf of the Keefe Family Trust seeking to build luxury homes on property adjacent to Canal Shores. State Sen. President John Cullerton (D-Chicago)  has an interest in the property. The road would be built on the 10th fairway.

Among those testifying was Friends of the Chicago River Director of Watershed Planning John Quail.

"As proposed, paving of open space like this can only exacerbate local flooding issues and can lead to negative water quality impacts. If this road is constructed, what will be the impacts from increased use of road salt so close to the waterway?" Quail asked. "The North Shore Channel is already in excess of the state proposed 500mg/L chloride standard much of the year. Doesn’t allowing additional pollution like this make that situation worse, leading to potential future permit violations for the MWRD?"

The public golf club sits on land owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District on the North Shore Channel, part of the Chicago River system. In addition to hosting some 12,000 golf rounds each year, the land serves as a “community green” where walkers, joggers, dog walkers, bird watchers and nature lovers are welcome.

A rally against the road was held on Sunday, November 11, 2018 at Canal Shores, drawing about 200 people.

Voting against the road were Commissioners Frank Avila, Josina Morita, Debra Shore and board president Mariyana T. Spyropoulos. Voting to approve the road were Commisioners Kenneth Dunkin, Martin Durkin, Kari Steele, David Walsh and board vice president Barbara McGowan.