Planning for Sustainability

In March of 2009, Schaumburg Park District initiated the Green Light Sustainability Plan (GLSP). It is intended to ensure the District can continue to meet its current and ongoing environmental, social, and economic needs without compromising the future for succeeding generations. The Plan also confirms the District’s commitment to leadership in the advancement of sustainable practices that manage land use for long term benefits, reduce dependency on nonrenewable fuels, reduce consumption of resources without offsetting benefits, and improve our impact on the environment (Schaumburg Park District, 2009).

In regards to land use, the GLSP intends to decrease the amount of mowed turf at select detention, non-high use park sites throughout the district by replacing it with native plantings. By decreasing the amount of mowed turf, the district will save on labor, fuel, and maintenance on mowing equipment. It will also allow the district to allocate resources to other projects.

The GLSP also focuses on converting some of the 21 parking lots owned by the district from hard paved surfaces to a permeable surface that would reduce the amount of storm water runoff and reduce the heat island effect experienced with standard paving. The use of permeable concrete can also reduce the need for additional detention areas since the water is able to percolate through the surface and replenish the ground water supply.

The Park District’s sustainability plan follows in the wake of two recent Village-wide planning efforts. The Schaumburg Biodiversity Recovery Plan created in May 2004 adopted the goals of Chicago Wilderness, an organization formed in an effort to protect and restore natural areas in the Chicago region. It provides specific guidance for maintaining, restoring, and preserving the integrity of open space in the village. The plan also targets specific high priority sites and makes recommendations for the preservation and restoration of these sites. In addition to parkland being listed on the plan for preservation, a number of corporate sites are also listed as high priority sites because of their restoration potential, existing restoration efforts, potential water quality benefits, threat from development, and ease of protection (Applied Ecological Services [AES], 2004).  Included in these sites are Motorola Corporate Campus, Woodfield Business Center, and Friendship Village.

In 2008, The Village released its Comprehensive Green Action Plan (C GAP), which covers a range of sustainability and conservation initiatives from energy use / carbon emissions to waste reduction to water resources management to transportation to land use. The latter section is of paramount relevance to this discussion. Its first stated goal is to “[a]dopt and enforce land use policies that reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create compact, walkable urban communities” (p. 10). This laudable goal contains a measure of irony, given that to many sustainability advocates, planners, and geographers, Schaumburg seems to epitomize many characteristics of late-20th century sprawl. Anyone who has driven around Schaumburg and experienced its wide roadways with high speed limits, lack of sidewalks and accessible crosswalks in some parts of the Village (particularly the northeast section around Woodfield Mall), knows that fostering a “walkable” community within Schaumburg presents tremendous challenges.

That said, parts of the Village are indeed walkable, such as the shops and facilities within the Town Center area located at Schaumburg and Roselle Roads. Moreover, Schaumburg possesses an extensive and longstanding network of bike paths and on-street bike lanes, and as of the summer of 2011 is initiating an effort to encourage and invest in all forms of “active transportation,” particularly biking and walking. Another goal articulated in the Land Use section of the C GAP is to maintain the health and vigor of the Village’s “urban forests” (p. 13), a project which provides multiple benefits, including wildlife habitat for animal species, shade for residential and commercial properties, urban heat island effect mitigation, and aesthetic beauty.

Next Section: Land Restoration Projects