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New Metra Station, Nature Preserve Park on the Way, Alderman Says

 Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th) addresses a few neighbors at his first summer 2013 town hall meeting.
Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th) addresses a few neighbors at his first summer 2013 town hall meeting.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

ROGERS PARK — A nature preserve park, a Metra station and a new river boathouse — along with several sewer and water main construction projects — are a few of the things on Ald. Pat O'Connor's agenda for this summer.

The 40th Ward alderman addressed a few neighbors who turned out at Kilmer Elementary School Monday night for his first summer town hall meeting.

Although new ward boundaries approved by the City Council last year would effectively move O'Connor out of most of Rogers Park and a chunk of Edgewater, a federal lawsuit challenging the new boundaries is pending in court, the alderman said.

"You might have two or three alderman acting on your behalf instead of one," whether you like it or not, he said.

So, he hosted one of six town hall meetings in the neighborhood.

Projects on the agenda for the summer include work on the West Ridge Nature Preserve, a 20-acre plot of land bought by the city from Rosehill Cemetery. The new park will include canoe launches, fishing holes and lookouts along a meandering asphalt path that encircles a pond at the western edge of the cemetery.

Smaller, permeable paths would stretch out into the land's forested areas, O'Connor said.

Design plans for a new Metra station at Peterson and Ravenswood avenues are also proceeding, he said. The $10 million Union Pacific North station would include a warming shelter and parking on the east side of the tracks.

O'Connor said he was working with Metra to add parking on the west side and a pedestrian bridge over the tracks.

Work on a $1.3 million boathouse at River Park, 5100 N. Francisco Ave., is also planned to begin this year.

Jacob Park in Ravenswood Manor would also be getting a face-lift, and O'Connor said the city bought property next to the park from the Chicago Transit Authority to expand it.

Mather Park would also be renovated and a new interactive water feature added.

Works has also begun to rebuild parts of the Peterson Avenue bridge.

New Rogers Park Police District Cmdr. Thomas Waldera, who has been making the rounds in the community to introduce himself since he was appointed at the end of April, briefly addressed neighbors.

Waldera said there had been an increase in burglaries in the two blocks north and south of Devon Avenue between Western and Kedzie avenues.

"You got to get all over it right away when one of these things jump up," he said.

He said the district planned to hang fliers out in the area to warn people to lock their doors and windows and keep an eye out.

The next town hall meeting is planned for 7 p.m. Monday at the Rogers Park Montessori School, 1800 W. Balmoral Ave.