Palos Heights wants to chop down this tree, remove the greenspace and pave it over. (Photo by Nuha Abdessalam)

Palos Heights wants to chop down this tree, remove the greenspace and pave it over. (Photo by Nuha Abdessalam)

Navajo Hills residents want to save threatened cul-de-sacs

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By Nuha Abdessalam

Navajo Hills greenspace islands could be getting the ax and residents are upset.

Residents of the East and West Courts of Navajo Hills, aware of the historical significance of the greenspace, spoke up during the Palos Heights City Council meeting May 21.

There are five cul-de-sacs in the Navajo Hills subdivision and they have sustained routine damage for years from winter snowplowing and other maintenance.

City officials concerned about the constant damage as well as the wear and tear around the curve of the islands decided to take action. The proposed solution was to remove the islands and pave over the land.

“When we received complaints about the maintenance in the five cul-de-sacs of Navajo Hills, where islands have been routinely damaged for years, we had to consider a solution,” said Public Works Director Adam Jasinski.

In an email dated May 16 to homeowner Christopher Wiksten, Jasinski outlined the reasons for their solution.

“With an increase in package deliveries and the growth of vehicle sizes, the islands in the cul-de-sacs are routinely damaged,” he wrote. “In addition, the public works maintenance vehicles also grew in size and it is difficult for us to clear the snow in these cul-de-sacs without plowing in a driveway or damaging the island.

“These issues were discussed in detail during the public Roads and Construction Committee meetings over the past two years and several maintenance options were debated. The city maintains over 20 cul-de-sacs and we made the decisions to make these cul-de-sacs uniform and remove the islands as we proceed with the Road Resurfacing Program. We anticipate to hold a preconstruction meeting with the contractor shortly and you will be notified when the road will be resurfaced. Please note that public works will also relocate the hydrant on the island and clear the area for the paving crew within the next four weeks.”

Jasinski said budget issues were addressed that paved the way for the removal.

“With the budget, we can now maintain uniformity and remove islands and proceed to resurface,” he said at the meeting. “We have plans to renovate East Court of Navajo Hills fully. We are looking to move forward.”

The Homeowners Association sent a representative and residents, who have formed deep emotional bonds with the greenspaces that have been a part of their lives for years, expressed their profound disappointment over city’s plans to remove the islands and greenspace entirely from the subdivision. They said the greenery holds a special place in their hearts. Some of the cul-de-sacs even predate their homes.

“We implore you to reconsider,” Susan Miller, an HOA member of Navajo Hills and resident for over 50 years, passionately pleaded. “We cherish the green, the beauty of Navajo and its greenery.

“We want the green space, and there are ways to accommodate and enlarge the area,” she said. “We’re asking the alderman in our community to put it back to the committee so we can resolve the issue and appreciate where we live. We adore the green, and we fervently hope you’ll reconsider. We don’t want a parking lot.”

A Navajo Hills East Court resident who asked to be unnamed said, “One of the reasons we moved to Navajo Hills and chose to move here is that they always talk about the greening of Navajo and support the beautiful landscaping. They take time to make it environmentally happy, but we would also be cutting down a healthy tree, which upsets us. It’s beautiful.”

Residents voicing their disapproval of the planned removal cited the advantages of traffic islands.

“They force drivers to go slow in the circle,” a crucial safety measure in a place where kids and grandkids play.”

Jasinski said the islands have created tight spaces for garbage trucks, city trucks, delivery drivers, etc., for the years.

Another anonymous Navajo Hills resident poured doubt on that claim.

“We have an elderly neighbor who frequently has assistance from the fire department or ambulances that managed fine, garbage trucks and city workers are OK, not sure who is doing the damage.”

A Navajo West Court resident voiced her concern. “Shrink the greenspace island but leave the tree and greenery and bring the curve in, and not change the aesthetic of our cul-de-sacs. We see it every day, and we love it.

“I have watched my children enjoying the greenspace and island for years, and other kids, we don’t want to eliminate the green space; that is our option. We want to keep the tree.”

Aldermen Jack Clifford and Jeff Key confirmed that the potential project will be reviewed and discussed further at the next Road and Construction Committee meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, June 11.

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