To the Editor: 

This past week's installation of heavy-duty security fences on the bridges to Wooded Island is distressing. This gate is bad for community safety, bad for public access to the park, and just plain uncreative. Where was the opportunity for community input on this? Why an aggressively spiked fence instead of bollards to restrict vehicle access and better fencing of sensitive areas like the Garden of the Phoenix? Does the Park District have the resources to ensure that the gate is open promptly at dawn, when birders are active? What is the plan for when park visitors are inevitably locked in at night? (Or will there be an aggressive police sweep of the island's many unpaved footpaths at sunset, to supplement the unwelcoming tone set by the new gates?)

These are my practical questions. More personally, I mourn the loss of access to sunrises and sunsets over the lagoon. Dusk is a great time to see crepuscular creatures like nighthawks, possums and raccoons — not to mention the fireflies, which are enchanting in the center of the island. I get home from work around 7:30 p.m. most days, so "dusk" has often been my time to walk in the park on weekdays. Countless other adults of working age are in the same boat as me. 

I urge all concerned park users to make their voices heard by contacting 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston (ward05@cityofchicago.org), the Jackson Park Advisory Council board (email addresses are available on their website at http://www.jacksonparkadvisorycouncil.org/our-board/, and the Chicago Park District (the South Region Manager for the Park District is Maya Solis, maya.solis@chicagoparkdistrict.com).

Rebecca Hall

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