Village Holds Open House for Proposed Nature Center

Village Holds Open House for Proposed Nature Center
Posted on 02/27/2015

The creation of the Village of Orland Park Nature Center at 139th and LaGrange Road is closer to becoming a reality. Before it was purchased by the Orland Park Open Lands Fund in 2012, the 3.5 acre site housed the Pebble Creek Landscape Nursery.

“The nature center planned for 139th and LaGrange Road is a nice example of the great work that the village’s Open Lands Commission has done to preserve open space in the community,” said Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin who created the group in 1995 to preserve open space in the village.

The Pebble Creek parcel is part of the “green triangle,” an area bound by Southwest Highway, LaGrange Road and 135th Street. The Open Lands Program has targeted this area for protection because of its sensitive and distinctive natural features and its proximity to Cook County’s McGinnis Slough on the opposite side of LaGrange Road. The area already encompasses Open Lands’ 135th Street Wetlands acquired in 2003 and the O’Malley parcels acquired in 2011.

“A lot of people have been working very hard on this project and it will be nice to see what they’re proposing,” he added.

A public meeting to discuss the proposed nature center master plan will be held on Tuesday, March 10 at the Frederick T. Owens Village Hall, 14700 South Ravinia Avenue. An open house will begin at 6 p.m. during which attendees will be able to discuss the conceptual draft plan with village staff and Open Lands commissioners. The commission has been working with Planning Resources, Inc. to develop ideas for the site.

The formal presentation of the plan will be made at 7 p.m. before the village’s Plan Commission.

“Orland Park having its own nature center is very exciting,” said Trustee Kathy Fenton, chair of the village’s Development Services Committee and the Village Board’s liaison to the Open Lands Commission. “This will be a great benefit for many reasons, including the site forever remaining open space and residents and visitors being able to learn about native plants and wildlife in Orland Park,” Fenton said.

“I especially like the concept because all levels of scouts will be able to work on badges related to the outdoors and wildlife,” said Fenton, a former Orland Park Girl Scout leader. “This facility could also offer great opportunities for high school kids needing community service hours for graduation. It’s a great addition to the village all the way around,” she said.

In 2013, the Village of Orland Park was one of 17 northern Illinois municipalities and non-profits awarded grants from ComEd and Openlands, a Chicago based conservation non-profit. Agencies throughout northern Illinois applied for green region grants with the recipients chosen by local environmental leaders.

The ComEd grant helped Orland Park with its site preparation including prairie seed mix and the development of a master plan for the property.

Since its mid-90s inception, Orland Park’s Open Lands Commission has saved hundreds of acres that will remain open space along with purchasing three family farms in the Village of Orland Park.

Questions about the property and the March 10 presentations may be directed to the village’s Development Services Department at 708/403-5300.