EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Dream of Pennsy Greenway comes true today

2013-10-27T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Dream of Pennsy Greenway comes true todayBy John Wilson nwitimes.com
October 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” – Walt Disney Co.

The start of a tremendous business enterprise — Disneyworld. I am not suggesting Disneyworld is coming to a local community, I am promoting that dreams do come true.

It might take many years of setbacks, small successes and sometimes nothing even happening. But if you keep your eyes on the prize, your dedication, hard work and the cooperation of others will get you to the promised land.

The Lan-Oak Park District along with Munster, Lansing, delegates from the Mid America Trails & Greenway Conference and other dignitaries will celebrate the Pennsy Greenway Trail connection on the Illinois/Indiana Stateline today.

The Pennsy Greenway was a dream that originated in the 1990s. The trail was to attach to the Burnham Greenway on the northern end of Lansing, travel through the community then hook up with the Thorn Creek Trail, making Lansing a part of the 475-mile Grand Illinois Trail.

But the dream of a large scale trail system was in the making by several government agencies in south suburban Cook County and Northwest Indiana.

Today that dream will come closer to the overall dream of many cyclists and trail planners. The Pennsy Greenway is now among a handful of trails in the United States that crosses a state line and will keep the same trail name. A unique feature for the Pennsy that travels from Lansing to Crown Point is it’s just the starting point.

It has been proven over and over there is a positive economic value for communities lucky to have a good trails system, good parks and open space. I have written about the economics of trails in other columns, so I will not review those numbers here.

The Pennsy is no different. In time, towns and local businesses along the Pennsy Greenway will see an economic benefit from the trail and its users.

The bigger dream is the Pennsy Greenway will not only serve the users in communities along its route, but also cyclists traveling from coast to coast.

On the larger scale, the 6,000-mile American Discovery Trail traveling coast to coast will use the Pennsy Greenway as part of its trail system.

In Lansing, our Chamber of Commerce has been promoting Lansing as a destination town. I believe the Park District and the village are helping with that promotion by being a part of the Pennsy Greenway and ADT family.

Yes, we all dream, and most of us pursue those dreams hard. As Disney started with a dream and a mouse, the Pennsy Greenway started as a dream and a line on a map.

John Wilson is director of the Lan-Oak Park District. The opinions are the writer's.

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