Linda J. Painter: 2022 candidate for DuPage County Forest Preserve Board District 3
Office sought: DuPage Forest Preserve Commission
Occupation: Commissioner, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
Previous offices held: Forest Preserve District of DuPage County board of commissioners since 2008
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
A: With my knowledge and experience on the board, I would like to continue the many initiatives and projects I have been working on. What motivates me is seeing the dogs and their owners loving the dog park at Oldfield Oaks that I initiated and followed through until the grand opening. I continue to listen to the dog park patrons with their wishes, i.e. more picnic tables, benches along the dog park trail, and more trees for shade.
I helped the Mayslake dog park users get a post for the tags of dogs who have passed over the Rainbow Bridge.
I get great satisfaction when people are using the directional signs that I initiated to help them find their way in the preserves. It gives me great satisfaction knowing that we are preserving our trees to help our environment and provide habitat for our wildlife. I continually advocate for planting more trees. I advocate for planting milkweed to help the endangered monarch butterflies.
Q: If you are an incumbent, describe your two biggest contributions to the board. If you are a non-incumbent, describe two ways you would contribute to the board.
A: Land Acquisition -- I led a community driven initiative to acquire additional acreage to preserve open space. I encouraged the nearby community to financially donate the needed $50,000 to supplement the purchase of the land. We came up with the funds and now the land is part of the Forest Preserve for future generations to enjoy. I also led an intergovernmental agreement to secure an easement to connect several parcels of land owned by the district. I support carefully acquiring more quality land to remain as open space.
Parking lot in Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve -- Several years ago, I observed approximately 200 cars parked on Bluff Road near the waterfall entrance. People were walking down the middle of the road with strollers, small children and dogs. This is a two-lane road that semi-trucks utilize. This was an extremely dangerous situation. Through my continued efforts for a new parking lot, it has finally come to fruition and was opened Labor Day weekend.
Q: What role should the forest preserve play in preserving historic buildings on its land?
A: The Forest Preserve District owns a number of historic buildings that are enjoyed by many. That being said, historic buildings cost a lot of money to maintain. The Forest Preserve District needs to continue to work with community leaders, governmental agencies, historical organizations, private donors, grants, and any other avenues to assist in raising funds to provide economic solutions to preserve these historic treasures that the Forest Preserve District currently owns.
Q: How would you rate the job the commission is doing to develop existing forest preserves and make them accessible to residents? How would you approach things differently?
A: We are doing a good job as a board, but there is always room for improvement. I would like to see more done in the way of spur trails and trail connectors in my district.
Greene Valley Forest Preserve has many neighboring residents that cannot access the preserve without driving to the parking lot even though they basically live across the street. One of my major accomplishments for Greene Valley was initiating the 79th St. trail entrance that many residents are enjoying every day.
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve has a great opportunity to provide "mini" trails off the main trail for people with children or dogs, or walkers who would simply like a more tranquil experience. I am advocating for a Serenity Garden in Waterfall Glen that would be easily accessible for our seniors and/or people with disabilities. My vision would be using an existing asphalt circle with wildflowers in the center and a few benches and picnic tables for peaceful meditation.
Q: What is the most important issue facing the forest preserves in your district and how should it be addressed?
A: Unfortunately, in today's world, the Forest Preserve District needs to work on ways to continue to keep our preserves safe. Our forest preserve law enforcement department does a great job and needs to continue to use technology to find ways to enhance safety within our forest preserves.
One pilot project being worked on is installing security cameras in a few of the parking lots especially at the dog parks. The car break-ins have dropped by 50% after installing the cameras.
Another project I would like to see implemented is installing a QR code on the mile markers on the trails. The QR code would direct a 911 call to the exact location in the preserve in case of an emergency.
I would like to see the Forest Preserve District's Law Enforcement Department work together with the DuPage Sheriff's Department on this initiative.