Wilmette, News

Gillson’s landscaping plan — which includes an additional 360 trees — gets green light

A comprehensive landscaping plan for Gillson Park, which includes the planting of more trees, received final approval on Monday, Feb. 12.

The unanimous Wilmette Park Board approval, which is expected to be implemented over the next 10 years, came following a brief discussion at the board’s regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 12.

Steve Wilson, executive director of the Wilmette Park District, said the plan, which was created by landscape architecture firm Upland Design, of Plainfield, was previously presented to the board during its Jan. 22 committee of the whole meeting. That discussion led to a number of questions from commissioners.

“A couple of the questions have led to some minor alterations to the plan from the committee of the whole until now — all positive changes,” Wilson said.

Those questions and alterations were addressed in a memo found in the board packet for Monday’s meeting. Most of the questions from commissioners involved tree and plant removals, the methods that Upland Design plans on using for removing plants, and what types of plants may be added to Gillson.

Among the changes from the initial plan include the addition of grasses “to help prevent sand build up” along the east beach path and noting that herbicide treatments will be used to remove buckthorn, a type of weed, to prevent it from returning.

A landscaping layout of Gillson Park in Wilmette. | Image Submitted

According to the presentation, found in the board’s packet from the Jan. 22 committee of the whole meeting, Gillson Park currently has close to 1,500 trees. The landscape plan proposes adding almost 360 new trees, an increase of 24 percent.

Park Board Vice President Patrick Duffy acknowledged Monday that the plan calls for some tree removals, but he said there are reasons why the park district plans to remove them.

“There will be tree removals, not just because some are invasive trees, they’re non-native trees, but …some of the trees are impacting the deterioration of the dunes,” Duffy said. “So, some trees will be removed and other plants planted so that we can establish the dune growth, because the trees are blocking out the growth.”

According to the Jan. 22 presentation, 18 percent of the existing trees are non-native, and the ones being proposed for removal are black locust and burning bush.

Duffy added that the trees will be replanted “in substantial numbers.”

The updated landscape plan will also include the addition of plants in Gillson’s parking lot and adjustments to the perennials being planted at the dog beach, both of which were made based on community feedback.

Commissioner Allison Frazier voiced support for the landscape plan.

“We should celebrate this,” she said. “This is a big win. (It’s) a long time in the making.”

“And it’s a great plan,” Commissioner Mike Murdock added. “Over time, it’s really going to enhance Gillson Park in a lot of ways.”

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Peter Kaspari

Peter Kaspari is a blogger and a freelance reporter. A 10-year veteran of journalism, he has written for newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois, including spending multiple years covering crime and courts. Most recently, he served as the editor for The Lake Forest Leader. Peter is also a longtime resident of Wilmette and New Trier High School alumnus.

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