The NFL free agent signing period started last night, and over the next few weeks there will be a lot of players—team assets really—moving from one city to another (with any luck, the Bears will acquire a pass rush and an impact receiver).
That got me to thinking, what's one asset from another city that I'd like to see the Chicago region "sign" away? If we could literally just pick something up and put it here, what would it be? Would it be a physical thing, like some sort of transportation innovation, or a policy, or even a person? I'd love to hear some ideas.
My choice would the canal system from Dublin, Ireland. It collects stormwater runoff, which is naturally filtered by aquatic plants growing on the banks, and returns it to the sea instead of the sewer system. It's also lined by homes, schools, hotels, walking paths, cafes, and yes, a pub or two.
Mixed-use development and walking paths alongside Dublin's Grand Canal.
Like UrbanLab/Archeworks' eco-boulevards concepts, a canal like this in Chicago would create an urban watershed by capturing stormwater runoff from roofs, streets and parking lots, then filtering it and returning it to Lake Michigan. Not only would that ease strain on our combined sewer system, but it would reduce the stormwater loss from our Lake Michigan diversion (see page 10 of our recent report with Openlands, Before the Wells Run Dry). Moreover, it would create a green corridor through the city, attracting new infill development and providing recreational opportunities.
So how about you? What asset would you like to bring to the Chicago region, and why? Think about it—and feel free to think big—then share your thoughts here or on our Facebook page. I can't wait to see what people come up with.