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Chicago Ideas Week: Urban Planning Fans Get a Look at Bloomingdale Trail

By Victoria Johnson | October 17, 2013 4:16pm
 Administrators for The 606 led a tour of the Bloomingdale Trail Thursday morning as part of Chicago Ideas Week.
The Bloomingdale Trail Chicago Ideas Week Tour
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HUMBOLDT PARK — More than a dozen curious folks braved rain and cold temperatures Thursday morning to get a sneak glimpse of the Bloomingdale Trail as part of Chicago Ideas Week.

Administrators for The 606 — the umbrella name for the entire park system that includes the Bloomingdale Trail — outlined the major details of the park, including plans for an observatory, skatepark and art installations.

Though much of the information had been previously released, the morning tour allowed people to get a look at the trail.

Many people have already been using the trail — somewhat illegally — but police have warned that starting Friday, trespassers will be arrested.

"It's now a construction site and tightly controlled and actually quite dangerous," warned Steven Beard of the Trust for Public Lands before beginning the tour.

So attendees donned hard hats, safety glasses and orange safety vests and climbed up the dirt ramp at Kimball and Bloomingdale avenues to get a look at the trail while still overgrown with wild grasses and railroad detritus.

Organizers said Canadian National Railway Company, the company that owns the track, will reclaim the rail debris once it is removed.

Itamar Amrany, 24, an art studio manager from Highland Park, said though he doesn't live in the city, he was curious about what kind of planning was going into The 606.

"I haven't followed it as closely as some other people," he said, "but I wanted to get a sense of the planning, what went into the planning, and the involvement with community."

Amrany said he was pleased to learn that The 606 had looked to the community for help with the planning and that he hoped to be able to make use of the park when visiting the city or if he decides to move here.

Another attendee, Chi Chi Okwu, said it was a general interest in urban planning that brought her to the event as well.

Though the 32-year-old associate pastor lives in Lakeview, she said she, too, will likely make use of the park, and enjoyed hearing about the progress.

"I'm just interested in urban planning and creating spaces for community so I was interested," Okwu said about the event. "I really liked to hear about the collaboration between engineering and art and about taking the community on a journey with the space."

Chicago Ideas Week continues through Sunday. A list of events can be found on ChicagoIdeas.com.