Chicago, November 19, 2013
Plants, Paddles, and People
Creating Community through Green Infrastructure and Riverfront Development in Blue Island, Illinois
A growing number of cities across the country have begun to acknowledge their waterfronts as valuable community assets through plans, capital investments, and development regulations. The Cal-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River wind through the ecologically rich, but economically challenged Calumet region in Chicago's south suburbs. The region has received attention lately through the state's Millennium Reserve initiative, a new land bank and transit-oriented development fund, and possible national park designation for the Pullman neighborhood, and it's poised to take advantage of its rich water assets.
At the center of much of this activity is the City of Blue Island, Illinois, an inner-ring suburb straddling both banks of the Cal-Sag Channel. In this program, Jason Berry, from the City of Blue Island, and Abby Crisostomo, from the Metropolitan Planning Council, discussed a number of water-oriented planning activities happening in Blue Island — from neighborhood-based approaches to green infrastructure and stormwater management, to community engagement in the creation of a waterfront plan, to regional-scale planning for an intercollegiate rowing center and more. They highlighted the lessons learned for integrating the recognition of water as an asset into community planning.
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About the Speakers
Jason Berry, AICP, is planning & building commissioner for the City of Blue Island and principal of Bare Knuckle Planning. Jason's work is focused on active transportation policy and advocacy, green infrastructure, historic preservation, brownfields and community health. Berry is a board member of the Blue Island Historical Society, the Illinois Association for Historic Preservation Commissions, and a founding member of the Calumet Waterway Stewards, an organization dedicated to promoting recreation opportunities on the Little Calumet River and Cal-Sag Channel.
Abby Crisostomo is an associate with the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago where she focuses primarily on environmental planning, with an emphasis on water resources policy, planning and management. Some of her current work includes providing technical assistance on interjurisdictional water supply coordination to the Northwest Water Planning Alliance and the DuPage Water Commission, managing content and outreach for the What Our Water's Worth campaign, coordinating neighborhood-scale green infrastructure projects, and conducting research on stormwater management incentive programs.