The City of Evanston will host a community workshop on Tuesday, February 17, 6 p.m.to 8 p.m., to discuss the proposed changes to trails in the Ladd Arboretum, a 17-acre nature preserve on the north side of Evanston. The workshop will be held in the Parasol Room (4th floor) of the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave.
At issue is the proposed trail redevelopment by the City of Evanston and whether or not the existing trails in the arboretum should be paved. According to the project’s critics, the changes proposed by the city will impact the look and feel of this unique, natural resource. Under the current proposal, the project would rebuild the multi-use trail, currently made of gravel, with a paved pathway. As noted by an email communication from Nature’s Perspective Landscaping, “the impact of the pathway will be detrimental to a number of old growth trees and disturb well-established wildlife habitats. The conversion of these paths to paved concrete or asphalt is not only unnecessary and costly, but against what the Arboretum stands for: preservation of nature, not man-made convenience.” On the other hand, Evanston officials have noted for several years that the trails drain poorly and are in need of some kind of significant improvement.
The questions at hand are ones that affect many urban and suburban parklands in periods of transition or what it sometimes called “redevelopment” — how natural should the landscaping be? how should we balance aesthetics with accessibility?