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updated: 12/3/2012 11:48 AM

Reader proposes linear park for St. Charles

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  • Downtown St. Charles is visible looking south along the Fox River, as is a view of the bike path and railroad bridge that crosses the river north of the dam.

      Downtown St. Charles is visible looking south along the Fox River, as is a view of the bike path and railroad bridge that crosses the river north of the dam.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer


The High Line in New York City, the Atlanta BeltLine and the Bloomingdale Trail proposed for Chicago represent city parks that came about when someone thought an abandoned rail line could become something beneficial for city residents.

Now think of the abandoned rail line and trestle that cuts through the near north side of St. Charles. A few ideas have popped up in the past about what to do with that empty track, mainly because it does cover a scenic area over the Fox River near Pottawatomie Park.

Phil Kessler, an avid reader of this column, sent a note with a fairly simple summation. "Wouldn't that be a great place for the latest trend ... a linear park?" Kessler said.

"I haven't heard anything about the rail line recently, so I thought, what the heck, this would be cool," he added.

Cool is right.

Kessler said he's talked with city and park officials about the idea and they showed interest in the concept.

It's another idea that would take city, park, township and maybe even county or rail company cooperation, depending on who really owns or has access to various parcels along the rail.

After three years of planning and planting, the High Line in New York City became a one-mile aerial greenway along the lower west side of Manhattan on a section of an elevated track that was formerly a spur of the New York Central Railroad. It is now an interesting and scenic area for residents and visitors to walk or sit on park benches.

St. Charles has challenges unfolding on the east side with the Charlestowne Mall property, and the west side in the area where the former St. Charles Mall once stood and is now surrounded by former and now empty Colonial and Burger King restaurant shells. The center of town is somewhat on hold with a First Street project that was beaten back by a bad economy.

That makes it less likely the city could approach such an enthusiastic project as a linear park. But I bring up those other challenges to point out that the city should examine any public park idea that would enhance its proclamation as "The Pride of the Fox" because its retail projects have not always lived up to that standard.

A bad rap for breed?: Not every dog breed makes headlines, but pit bulls sure do. Unfortunately, these dogs create media buzz when they have been found as part of a dogfighting ring or have attacked and mauled a person.

With that kind of publicity, it's safe to assume a majority of potential pet owners would not consider owning a pit bull.

Anderson Animal Shelter would like to give pit bulls a fair shake, and it intends to do so in showing the film "Beyond the Myth: The Truth About Pit Bulls" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Arcada Theatre. Cost is $10 for a ticket, with a portion of proceeds going to the shelter. Shelter officials hope the movie reaches those who have negative views about pit bulls because they consider the movie an eye-opening experience. Those interested in tickets or more information can call (847) 697-2880, ext. 25.

A football odyssey: I wrote about Patrick Schiller of Geneva about six years ago when he was part of what was being touted as one of the best linebacking corps in the state at Geneva High School. Since then, he made a name for himself at Northern Illinois University and now as a member of the practice squad for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.

I could tell years ago that his young man was pretty darn good at his trade. The better the opposing running back or quarterback, the better he played in defending against them. Here we are in late 2012, and Schiller last Sunday made the cover of The New York Times magazine. His uncle is a writer for the magazine and penned an extensive piece on his nephew's challenges in making it into the NFL. Look it up online if you get a chance. It's a great story about a local kid and his passion for football.

This is holiday joy: If you enjoy hearty laughs mixed in with your holiday music, you should know Fox Valley Repertory has another winner on its hands with "The Winter Wonderettes" holiday musical, playing on Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 30 at Pheasant Run Resort.

This musical, which takes place at a hardware store holiday party in the 1960s, has plenty of funny moments with the four talented ladies who make up the Wonderettes. Music director Ken Jones, a resident of Wayne, brings us plenty of those moments through the songs the Wonderettes belt out.

When you set aside the general silliness and truly hilarious stuff, you are reminded through songs like "Snowfall" and "Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day" that these Wonderettes can really sing.

This show represents what this time of year is supposed to be all about -- holiday joy for all ages.

Other holiday options in that same category include "Scrooge, the Musical" at the Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles and the production of "Annie" at the Paramount Theater in Aurora. "Annie" has been getting rave reviews, including one in the Daily Herald last week. If you attend, watch for young local stars Sydney Poss of North Aurora and Amelia Kuhlman of St. Charles.

Another sugary record: Chef Alain Roby is at it again, with another quest for his name in the Guinness Book of World Records. This time, area residents will have a chance next Saturday to see the longest sugar cane ever created, a 45-foot monster that Roby will display from the front of his All Chocolate Kitchen on Third Street to the courthouse lawn.

It would mark Roby's third entry into the world record books with sugary creations, having accomplished the feat with chocolate skyscrapers and sculptures.

Not a shopper, but …: Like most men, I don't consider myself much of a holiday shopper.

However, I agree with those who thought opening stores for business on Thanksgiving night was a good idea. Of course, I did not participate in that night's shopping sprees, but my wife and I did go out the following morning -- and found it to be much less hectic.

Retail businesses need every possible boost they can muster, so if opening the holiday shopping season earlier works -- and it appears it has -- then more power to them.

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