Mayor tours Northerly Island restoration project

More than 10 years after Mayor Daley ordered the destruction of Meigs Field, the transformation is nearly complete on Northerly Island.

The result – nearly 50 acres of new park land for Chicagoans.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency came traveled from Washington, D.C. Tuesday to celebrate the unveiling of the biggest aquatic ecosystem restoration project in the country.

“We want to make sure that kids understand the science, that they make the connections between what they’re seeing in those museums and real life examples of the richness of an ecosystem,” said EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy.

She says it’s a landmark project – the biggest of more than 2,000 restoration projects across the Great Lakes.

The southern end of Northerly Island, just off of downtown Chicago is expected to open to the public this Fall.

It will take some time for the vegetation to develop, but the Chicago Park District says it will be the crown jewel of the city’s lakefront.

It was a little over a decade ago when the airstrip that used to occupy the island was closed by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Aviation enthusiasts unsuccessfully fought the move in court.

Daley envisioned the area being turned into a nature preserve, but tough economic times delayed any major restoration work until now.

“We currently have six projects underway that are restoring 400 acres in Chicago. This is more than any other urban area in the country,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

The $7 million restoration project at Northerly Island is mostly paid for by federal funds.

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