WEST PULLMAN — Far South Side residents want to see better acknowledgment of historical landmarks, more recreational amenities and more frequent maintenance along the Major Taylor Trail, they told officials at a community meeting Saturday.
The Major Taylor Trail is a paved 8.1-mile bike and walking path made from an abandoned train line. It runs from the Dan Ryan Woods through Morgan Park, West Pullman and Roseland to the Calumet River.
“I think the general impression is that it needs more work,” said lead designer RaMona Westbrook, of Brook Architecture. “There’s a lot of land on each side of it and opportunities to do a number of different things.”
About 20 community members gathered Saturday morning at the Far South Community Development Corporation, 837 W. 115th St, to discuss what they want to see included in the Major Taylor Trail Framework Plan. The initiative is for “neighborhood-oriented investments” adjacent to the trail between 104th and 125th streets.
“We’re looking at the trail as an amenity, but we’re looking for symbiotic opportunities — how the trail can help development and how development can help the trail,” Westbrook said.
Far South Side Community Development Corporation is working with the city’s planning and development department, Teska Associates Inc., Rudd Resources and Brook Architecture to finish the plan before the end of the year.
Click here to see an interactive map of the area encompassed by the plan. You can add comments and suggestions for the planners to consider.
Those working on the plan have identified 10 vacant lots near the trail they believe “hold a great deal of potential” to focus on developing first, Westbrook said.
Residents suggested a variety of amenities they’d like to see near the trail, including a bike repair shop, restaurants and grocery stores, affordable housing, a dog park, a playground and urban farms. More protected bike lanes near the trail would also help to connect it to businesses, they said.
Residents said more people might use the trail and surrounding nature if there was a place to rent bikes and kayaks, as well as more benches, water fountains and garbage/recycling cans.
They also said there should be more signs and rest stops along the trail so it is easier to navigate and safer to cross the busy roads it intersects with.
The trail is named after Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, a famous Black cyclist who spent his final years in Chicago, but neighbors said the trail doesn’t have many signs educating passersby about his legacy.
Neighbors and those leading the project agreed the trail can better educate passersby about Taylor and the neighborhood’s rich history with the labor movement.
“We’ve actually heard international visitors come here to find out about Major Taylor, so we’re thinking about what opportunities there are to tell that story,” said Scott Goldstein, a representative from Teska Associates.
This includes adding more monuments and public art, as well as signs with directions to the Coach National Monument and Visitor Center610 E. 111th St., and as the African American Heritage Water Traila kayaking route along the Little Calumet River at the Cook County Forest Preserves’ Beaubien Woods.
The next public meeting is 10 am-noon Dec. 10 and will focus on design ideas for the area. The location for the meeting hasn’t been announced yet, but you can keep up with the group’s plans here.
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