Photo by Joe Boyle
The waterfalls at the Harry "Bus" Yourell Sidestream Elevated Pool Aeration Station in Worth is an inviting location for wedding party photo shoots, joggers and walkers. However, the Worth Village Board has approved an ordinance to prevent people from feeding wildlife along the Cal-Sag Channel.
By Joe Boyle
The days of feeding wild animals in the village of Worth appear to be over.
The Worth Village Board has adopted an ordinance prohibiting feeding wild animals during a board meeting held July 21. The provision was approved during the consent agenda to promote the public health, safety and welfare of its residents by minimizing unregulated wildlife feeding.
"Some of you know we have had issues of feeding wildlife in the village for years," said Mayor Mary Werner during the meeting. "A lot of people feed the wild animals at the Harry "Bus" Yourell Sidestream Elevated Pool Aeration Station along the canal (Cal-Sag Channel). We had this conversation a few years ago with coyotes becoming plentiful. We wanted to pass an ordinance then but were told by the MWRD (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) that we could not. But now a MWRD attorney said that we could pass an ordinance to not feed the wild animals."
The Yourell Aeration Station at 11700 S. Harlem Ave. includes several off-stream waterfalls that is run by the MWRD. The park-like setting attracts wedding parties for photo shoots, bike riders and joggers. It is also adjacent to the 18th hole of the Water's Edge Golf Club that extends across Harlem Avenue east.
But while the area is an inviting destination spot, many people also come by to feed the wild animals and that creates problems for Worth, according to village officials
And while some people enjoy feeding the geese and ducks, it has become a public nuisance, Werner said.
The Worth mayor mentioned that she recently visited Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens in Palos Heights, which is located on the south side of the Cal-Sag Channel. The mayor said there are signs posted throughout the center warning visitors not to feed the animals.
She said that needs to take place along the Yourell Station location in Worth. Board members said that signs will be posted in four languages — English, Arabic, Polish and Spanish — informing visitors that they will be fined if they feed the animals.
The board will discuss the issue at a future meeting and will initially warn visitors at first to refrain from feeding the wild animals. If people continue to do so, the board said the find could be as much as $750 per offense.
Werner said that along with the issue of feeding the wild animals that could draw coyotes and rats, there are other obstacles that occur because people often picnic along the area.
"We have had instances where we have had people golfing on the 18th hole competing with people having picnics," the mayor said. "We have golfers competing with kids playing soccer. There are people there who show up with bags of food to feed the animals."
The mayor said after the signs are posted and initial warnings are given, police will begin giving out citations to repeat offenders.
Trustee Brad Urban, who is the head of the public works committee, said the issue is getting out of hand along the canal.
"It took six hours for public works employees to clean up the area one weekend," Urban said. "It's one thing to feed the animals, but we have people leaving food all over and even lawn chairs."
Feeding wild animals will include ducks, geese, turkeys, pheasants, coyotes, deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks and other non-domesticated animals, according to the ordinance.
Another related ordinance was adopted by the board to modify picnic regulations in the village and near the channel. Board members addressed the issue of picnics occurring on publicly-owned property and unauthorized locations, including complaints concerning waste, litter and other debris being left behind by picnickers.
Construction has begun on the long-awaited Thorntons service station that will be built at the southwest corner of 111th and Ridgeland Avenue in Worth. Village Clerk Bonnie Price said that ground has been broken at the site and the project is tentatively expected to be completed in four months.
During the pandemic, travel for Worth village employees will be limited for essential business. The board approved that professional development or training, as well as other non-essential travel will be postponed.
Suggestions for a Worth Car Cruiser Parade was turned down after some discussion due to the pandemic and liability.
A business license application request was given tentative approval to Brand Names 4 Less, 7026 W. 111th St. Hanan Darweesh is the owner. The license is contingent upon having passed all inspections and being in compliance with all codes and ordinances.