Local News, Opinion

Half Week | May 30: Thornton Township budget hearing Friday, No Mow May no more, MMA for commuters?

Thornton Township reschedules meeting, budget hearings for Friday

Josh Bootsma of the Lansing Journal reports that Thornton Township Supervisor Tiffany Henyard postponed the Tuesday, May 28, budget hearings and board meeting 53 minutes after the scheduled start.

The meeting will now take place at 1 p.m. Friday, May 31, in township hall, 333 E 162nd St., South Holland. The proposed budget can be found here.

Art & Garden is on

It looks like Saturday will be damp. The forecast currently calls for a 77% chance of nearly half an inch of rain. Homewood officials confirm that the Art & Garden Street Fair is on, rain or shine. Grab an umbrella and head downtown. The fair opens on Friday, May 31. Hours are _____

Homewood and Flossmoor in the spotlight

Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson and Flossmoor Community Relations Commission Vice Chair Jackie Riffice each announced at the May 20 village board meeting that Chicago Magazine had featured Flossmoor in its June/July 2024 edition.

The “Best Places to Live in the Suburbs” article includes a photo and a quote from residents Jon and Jenna Diemer, who said they chose the village because of family ties, strong schools, sense of community, and diversity.

“There’s something infectious about Flossmoor,” Jon said in the article. “People like coming back or sticking around.”

Homewood got a page in the Illinois Municipal League’s “IML Review” June edition on page 28.

The village was recognized for three recent economic development projects, Homewood Brewing, which is nearing completion on Dixie Highway; Stoney Point Grill, the restaurant in the Hartford Building downtown, which opened at the end of March; and Bergstein’s NY Deli, which relocated from Chicago Heights and marked its grand opening May 7.

New MMA: Public transportation merger idea floated

The Illinois Answers Project reported recently that a proposal to merge four public transportation agencies might be picking up steam:

“The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning urged lawmakers last year to consider the seismic move, spurred by a looming fiscal cliff and a growing crisis of confidence in the CTA’s leadership. The nonpartisan Civic Federation lent its support to the idea last week, and now some lawmakers are out with their own proposal to wind down the CTA, Metra, Pace and the Regional Transportation Authority and establish the Metropolitan Mobility Authority in their place.”

No Mow May no more

As May ends, so ends Homewood’s first No Mow May experiment. Village officials announced on Facebook that lawns should be mowed by Friday, May 31, to comply with village code, and that citations for violations in the height of grass and other vegetation will begin on June 3.

The purpose of No Mow May is to give pollinators like bees and butterflies a chance to do their thing without whirling blades of death shredding their habitat. 

I’m all for giving pollinators a chance, but I also confess I will seize any excuse to avoid mowing the lawn. 

The writer’s lawn, still in the process of being returned to civilized form
after the No Mow May experiment. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Flossmoor briefly considered following suit with Homewood but ultimately declined. Trustee Gary Daggett suggested the idea, and the Board of Trustees was polled on April 15 to see if there was interest in considering an ordinance establishing guidelines for suspending lawn maintenance rules for a period in spring. 

Enough trustees expressed interest in exploring the possibility that the matter was added to the board’s May 6 meeting agenda. However, the prevailing winds had shifted. Daggett said after consulting with a master gardener, he was less inclined to support the measure.

“Based on what the experts are saying, I just don’t think it’s effective enough to warrant the amount of work” that village staff would bear, Daggett said.

Assistant Village Manager Jonathan Bogue offered the results of staff research on the pros and cons of temporarily suspending lawn maintenance requirements. He said staff consulted with University of Illinois and University of Wisconsin experts. 

While the advantages include providing more food for pollinators and other urban lawn creatures and reducing the noise and air pollution produced by gas-powered mowers and trimmers, getting lawns back under control after they become overgrown is difficult. 

I know that. Getting our two-foot grass back under control has not been quite as much fun as I thought it would be. 

He also noted that turf grass dominated lawns provide very little support for pollinators. Lawns need flowering plants like clover, violets, dandelions and others in order to have a positive effect.

Bogue said the No Mow May phenomenon started in the United Kingdom, which has a later growing season than our region. Other options that might work better include No Mow Until Mother’s Day (which falls in mid-May every year) or Slow Mow May, which involves mowing less frequently but preventing vegetation from getting higher than five inches.

Another problem is the temporary nature of the practice. 

“We’re looking for more sustained food for pollinators,” he said. 

Bogue listed things residents can do to support pollinators effectively, including add flowering plants to lawns, reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides, use native trees and plants when possible.

Trustees Brian Driscoll, George Lofton and Jim Mitros also noted the resistance they and their constituents feel for allowing overgrown lawns. Mitros suggested Mow May as a better policy than No Mow May.

Our lawn is already well infiltrated with clover, violets, dandelions and other plants that are delightful to see and good meals for bees, and we plan to add more, too, but in a more intentional way than No Mow May produces. 

In spite of my mow phobia, I’ll grant that letting grass get out of hand is probably not the best approach. We can create better pollinator habitats that are attractive, too. Really, there’s nothing more boring than an uninterrupted expanse of turf grass. 

Less grass, more bee food, that’s our motto. 

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