Jan 13, 2011

Six Million Dollar Man

Will County Forest Preserves

One of the first plans I ever worked on was the Will County Forest Preserve Land Acquisition Plan.  The team leader of the plan was Don Eibling. Marla Uttech Gursh and I assisted. We mapped potential open space throughout the County, with an emphasis on wetland and flood plain. The plan was initiated in 1973  and largely completed in 1974. I used to kid Eibling that he put any property in the County with a tree on it in the plan. It was an excellent plan, especially considering that it was the first plan any of us had written.

Tom Murphy was the Executive Director of the Will County Regional Planning Commission. He was an aggressive leader who was passionate about planning and open space. But he irritated many County Board members for a variety of reasons. 

Their was a faction on the County Board who wanted to buy open space and supported Murphy. There was another contingent that did not care about open space but wanted flood control for Joliet that would be provided by Forest Preserves on Hickory and Spring Creeks. And there was a third faction that did not care about either but wanted to get Murphy.

Mary Lou Marzuki led the political fight to get the County to pass a bond issue to start buying open space. We of course supported her. I watched her single handedly convince a number of County Board members that they should pass a major bond issue.

And so the political deal was made. In exchange for passing the 6 million dollar bond issue, Murphy was fired. And so Tom Murphy became the six million dollar man.