To the editors:

I read the story of the land battle in Kendall County [December 6] with interest, and although the topic of this letter is of less significance, I write it to set the record straight.

Contrary to Harold Henderson’s report, the Openlands Project is 31 years old, not 28, and its founder was not the late Gunnar Peterson. In 1960, as a young staff member of the recreation division of the old Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago, now merged into the United Way of Chicago, I conceived the idea of the project as an emergency measure to save rapidly shrinking open space in the metropolitan area. My boss and I pushed it through the Council’s bureaucracy that spring; George Overton, an attorney who–bless him–is still active in the project, and I filed the articles of incorporation; and the Welfare Council got some foundation money to begin the work.

Indeed, we called the venture a project because we thought the whole issue would be over in five years or so: open land was either saved in that period of time or it was lost to the real estate developers and road builders. About three years later, when the issue proved to be more complex and obviously required action over a much longer term, the project became an independent operation and Gunnar–an outdoorsman and a fine person–was hired as its director.

Regardless of how one feels about the Kendall County dispute, the work of the project’s volunteers and staff members in the past 31 years has given us and our progeny a legacy for which we should all be extremely grateful. I know I am.

William Friedlander


Harold Henderson replies:

Thanks for the correction and additional information.