Stretching 2.7 miles through four vibrant Chicago northwest side neighborhoods, the unused Bloomingdale elevated rail corridor is adjacent to numerous private properties and crosses over major arterials, a historic boulevard, bus and bicycle routes, and the CTA Blue Line. The conversion of this corridor into a trail and park will provide unprecedented connections to and among these communities.
The recently released Bloomingdale Trail and Park Framework Plan represents a critical juncture in the development of the project. Balanced between the efforts of the past and the development of the future, it strives to capture and harness the momentum and history of the project while defining a vision for the Bloomingdale's initial development and long-term stewardship. In this program, Beth White from the Trust for Public Land and Kathleen Dickhut from the City of Chicago provided an overview of the collaborative planning process and discussed the plan's guidelines to design, implement, and manage a local trail and park with global appeal in the heart of Chicago's neighborhoods.
Beth White is director of the Chicago Region Office of The Trust for Public Land, a national organization dedicated to land conservation and the creation of urban parks. She was also previously the managing director of communications and policy for the Chicago Housing Authority, chief of staff for Chicago Transit Authority's Chicago Transit Board, assistant commissioner for the City of Chicago's Department of Planning and Development, and founding executive director of Friends of the Chicago River where she led the creation of the award winning Chicago River Urban Design guidelines. White also worked on the creation of the first landmarks protection ordinance and staffed the Historic Preservation Commission for the City of Highland Park. As the former chair of Lakewood Balmoral National Historic District Committee, she led the designation of the Lakewood Balmoral neighbood on the National Register of Historic Places.
Kathleen Dickhut is deputy commissioner of the Open Space/Sustainability Division of the City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development. Over the past 12 years the division has implemented the CitySpace and Chicago River plans and developed and implemented the Calumet plans, Logan Square Open Space Plan, Chicago Eat Local Live Healthy and Adding Green to Urban Design. Three new plans are now in various stages of development: Chicago Sustainable Industries, FoodSpace and Green Healthy Neighborhoods. To implement the plans the Division acquires and funds new parks, community gardens and urban agriculture sites and develops policy and programs for green infrastructure and local food systems. Dickhut has a Master of Science in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.