CHICAGO – After months of public outreach and research, the public/private Millennium Reserve Steering Committee has delivered its report to Governor Pat Quinn recommending priority actions within the Millennium Reserve, a 210-square mile region being developed into a thriving area for commerce, communities and wildlife in the Calumet region and southeast Chicago lakefront.
“This report is an important step in transforming this region and includes recommendations on things such as increased public access, facility construction, strategic trail connection and workforce plans,” Governor Quinn said. “The report complements the unique visions that have already been started for the Millennium Reserve. I want to thank the steering committee for their hard work and encourage the members to continue building upon this ambitious comprehensive plan for reinvesting in the Calumet region.”
The report recommends 14 specific regionally-significant opportunities that the committee believes will help realize the full promise and potential of the Millennium Reserve and improve the economy, community and environment of the area.
“The Millennium Reserve Steering Committee is proud to present this report to Governor Quinn. We thank him for his leadership and vision to bring key players to the table to create a vision for this wonderful region of Chicago that is transforming right before our very eyes,” said Millennium Reserve Steering Committee Chair John Rogner.
The Millennium Reserve Steering Committee recommended 14 immediate priorities of regional significance, each considered pivotal in achieving the Reserve vision. These priorities are complemented by the objectives and on-the-ground work of dozens of partners, many of whom have been doing outstanding work in the region for decades.
Open Public Access to Lake Calumet
Transform 140 acres of unutilized Illinois International Port District property along Lake Calumet into a public amenity featuring open space, wildlife habitat, recreation, small business, and family programming.
Build the Blue Island Intercollegiate Rowing Center & Marina
Develop underutilized marina on the Cal-Sag Channel at Fay’s Point in Blue Island into a host site for high-level rowing competitions. Establish revenue-generating operations including rowing center and housing.
Develop and Implement the Millennium Reserve Natural Areas Conservation Compact
Coordinate shared conservation outcomes and undertake site protection and restoration activities for the state’s 23 most ecologically important sites – those of highest biodiversity value – in the Reserve.
Implement a Millennium Reserve Industrial Jobs Work Plan
Create a competitive workforce while addressing a serious labor/skills mismatch in the manufacturing sector through an expansion of the Calumet Green Manufacturing Partnership. This partnership will increase employer investment and employment opportunities and spur regional economic development.
Catalyze the Redevelopment of Brownfields
Secure funding to finance acquisition and predevelopment work for cargo-oriented development projects and key rail-serviced properties. Address brownfield redevelopment challenges through strategic cooperation between the state and other public agencies.
Propose and Fund a Millennium Reserve Land Development Program
Raise $1.5 million for capital investment in the nonprofit Southland Community Development Loan Fund.
Communicate the Assets of the Region
Organize and catalog extensive GIS information about the Calumet’s natural, community, and economic assets. Use dynamic, web-based visualization tools to promote opportunities to live, work, and recreate.
Support National Heritage Designation for Distinctive Regional Landscapes
Support three distinctive and interlinked National Heritage Areas – the existing I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor, along with the proposed Black Metropolis and Calumet national heritage areas. Leverage these designations to stimulate economic development, cultivate environmental and cultural preservation, and foster education and stewardship of natural and cultural resources.
Support and Promote the Proposed Pullman National Historical Park
Secure national historic park designation in Pullman to further preserve the history of Chicago’s emergence as a transportation and commercial hub. Pullman has a unique place in U.S. history as the first model industrial town and a birthplace of the labor movement – including the first African American labor union.
Develop the Future Generation of Conservation Leaders
Identify funding needs and programming gaps for youth-oriented conservation education in the region.
Acquire and Build the Strategic Connections Missing in the Calumet Area Trail System
Complete several key connections in what will become an impressive 100-mile regional bike and pedestrian trail system that includes the Burnham Greenway and the American Discovery, Cal-Sag, and Grand Illinois trails. Will benefit the environment and economy and offer new recreation, fitness, and transit choices.
Review and Revive the Ford Calumet Environmental Center
Review and revive plans for the Ford Calumet Environmental Center. Reconsider location, funding, and design, as well as management and operation options. Produce recommendations for the center’s future.
Improve Stormwater Management through Investments in and Coordination of Green Infrastructure Solutions
Coordinate existing green infrastructure practices such as bioswales, rain gardens, and permeable pavement that reduce flooding, improve water quality, enhance habitat, and more; and, determine optimal placement of future, large-scale investment with a goal of mitigating 1 billion gallons of stormwater.
Develop the Millennium Reserve Outdoor Recreation Partnership and Framework Plan
Develop outdoor adventure attractions and ecotourism opportunities such as paddling, camping, birding, geocaching, zip lining, and kite boarding that will position the Reserve as a recreation destination.
Governor Quinn launched the Millennium Reserve initiative in December 2011to transform the Illinois side of the bi-state Calumet region into a one-of-a-kind public destination that stimulates vigorous and diverse economic growth, protects and enhances natural ecosystems, and supports healthy and prosperous communities.
The concept was originally introduced as part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to reconnect Americans to the nation’s magnificent outdoor treasures, and to use science-based management practices to restore and protect our lands and waters for future generations.
For more information on the Millennium Reserve initiative and to track the progress of priority objectives, visit www.millenniumreserve.org