On the way into town, heading north on Route 14, I also have driven past a sign just across the street from the oaks: "Harvard - Success comes naturally here," all spelled out under the golden image of an oak tree.
Imagine my surprise when the owner of the Rush Creek property called The Land Conservancy to see if we might be interested in buying that very same piece of his property!
Well, it has been about 18 months since that phone call, and the pieces to make the project a reality are coming together nicely.
The City of Harvard is on-board, as is the School District. After all, not only will the future park set the tone for the entry into town, but, being a short walk from Crosby School, it will also provide an opportunity for generations of Harvard kids to experience a natural, meandering creek - something that is rarely seen today.
There was a front page article about the project in Harvard's August 5th Main Line newspaper and also a mention in the Harvard EDC report that was included in the same issue. Now we just need to raise the money to complete acquisition of the property, to restore the woods and to establish an endowment that will ensure the property can be taken care of forever.
We are now trying to raise $190,000 over three years to cover acquisition, restoration and establishing a long-term endowment. That's $63,000 a year in each of three years. Harvard itself has a population of about 9,500 people. Add in the surrounding area, and there must be at least 11,000. If each person chipped in $5.75 a year for three years, we would have a successful campaign!
The stretch of Route 14 behind the sign & the future park is a bit worse for wear - a vacant property, a couple of empty businesses, and a partly vacant shopping center where Wal-Mart was located before they built the Super Center on McGuire Road.
But that doesn't mean things will be that way forever. It's a fact that protected & restored natural land can help spur economic development when located in urban areas. I'm not saying that a 15 acre nature park at the entrance to town will spur a wave of economic development, but it certainly won't hurt.
Think of Gateway Park as an investment in a future of a place called Harvard: "Success & Nature go hand-in-hand here" !
Wondering how you can help with the Campaign for Gateway Park?
- Please join TLC, the City of Harvard and your neighbors on Sunday, August 28th at 3pm at the intersection of Heritage Lane and Marengo Road for the official kick-off to the Campaign for Harvard's Gateway Park.
- Make a pledge of support:
- Become a Gateway Guardian for $1,000 a year for 3 years,
- a Friend of the Park for $500 a year for 3 years,
- Rescue an Oak for $250 a year for 3 years, or
- Save a seedling for $100 a year for 3 years.
- Join the Campaign for Gateway Park Committee & help make this project a reality!