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DuPage County forest district,  CN railroad agree to land use plan

Updated: December 22, 2012 6:33AM

The CN railway has agreed to provide more than $3.1 million in preserve facilities and land enhancements to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County in exchange for the railway’s use of a five-acre parcel of district land.

According to a release Tuesday form the district, the railroad wanted to make the swap to better enable CN to make track improvements and connections.

“This is an unprecedented agreement that is a great benefit to all residents of DuPage County,” said D. “Dewey” Pierotti Jr., president of the Forest Preserve District. “Our negotiations with CN generated a proposal that will not only help enhance our facilities, but will also modernize a stretch of tracks to help ensure the safety of all citizens.”

The agreement provides CN, which acquired the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. in 2009, with five acres of land within the north central part of Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve in Wayne. Known as the Munger Connection by the railroad, CN will use it for staging of material and equipment as the railroad works to improve tracks on its own property. Additional area is provided for compensatory storage and wetland creation.

“CN needed access and room to efficiently perform the work,” said Pierotti.

Upon completion, CN will not only restore the site, but will perform wetland mitigation and habitat improvements. Pratt’s Wayne Woods is DuPage County’s largest forest preserve and contains key habitat for wildlife that rely on open areas, the release said.

Additionally, CN will fund the design and construction of two new recreational facilities now at Pratt’s Wayne Woods. The off-leash dog area will be relocated to nearby Hawk Hollow Forest Preserve in Hanover Park, and the model aircraft facility will be relocated off Stearns Road within Pratt’s Wayne Woods.

Those facilities at Pratt’s Wayne Woods are located adjacent to high quality habitat, but the Forest Preserve District’s long range plan called to move them to other areas to allow their development footprints to be restored to its natural habitat. Funding, however, was an issue, according to the district.

“We always wanted to relocate the off-leash dog area and model aircraft facility to better serve residents,” said Pierotti. “But this agreement provides us with the needed funding to move forward.”

“The public was invited to multiple outreach meetings to review the plans,” he said. “Many design elements were revised to meet the needs of the attending public.”

Work is likely to start this year and is expected to end by fall 2014.

“CN is investing millions of dollars not only in the modernization and rehabilitation of its tracks, but also in the restoration of the area’s natural environment,” said Pierotti. “The residents of DuPage County are truly benefiting from this agreement.”

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