Plum Grove Estates’ Campaign to “Save Briarwood”

Palatine’s Plum Grove Estates is a bit of a hidden gem. Although the entrances that lead to the subdivision are off of fairly busy roads, you might not even know it’s there.

It’s not all that common to find a neighborhood this beautiful and this well-integrated with the surrounding nature, while being so close to so much. Immediately west of Route 53 (290) and 5 minutes north of Woodfield (if that), Plum Grove Estates incorporates a series of winding roads that roll gracefully over the hills and dips in the landscape. It’s a lush haven for many fine examples of mid-century architecture, and includes countless century-old trees and beautiful ponds that lend a serene tranquility to this refuge within the busy northwest burbs.

Read on to find out why Briarwood needs Saving…

Salt Creek also runs through Plum Grove Estates, and where it crosses under Briarwood Lane – the street that runs through the subdivision from Plum Grove Rd. to the Rte. 53 frontage road – there’s an architecturally-significant, mid-century stone & concrete bridge, built in 1954 as part of the subdivision’s master plan.

The Save Briarwood campaign is focused on this bridge, as well as the section of Briarwood closest to the bridge. Unfortunately, the Palatine Township Road District (PTRD) wants to replace the bridge and modify the flow of Briarwood Lane at the significant taxpayer cost of approximately $1 million.

“We believe that the bridge is a very important part of the history of Plum Grove Estates,” says PGE resident Cathy Reichl. Cathy’s one of a number of residents spearheading the Save Briarwood campaign. “Not only is it a neighborhood landmark, but if you look at its design, you can see that its stonework matches the stonework at all six entrances to the neighborhood. Replacing the bridge would not only take away the charm of an original mid-century stone bridge, it would destroy the aesthetic continuity that was obviously a part of the thoughtful design of Plum Grove Estates back in the 1950s.”

PTRD’s plan will adversely affect many elements that make Plum Grove Estates a standout community, not only by destroying the original stone bridge, but by cutting down mature trees, and by changing the course of Briarwood Lane in such a way that will encourage traffic to travel at higher speeds, reducing the safety of the roads, which have been shared by pedestrians, bikers and cars for over 50 years.

“The PTRD was trying to push this project through for completion this year,” says Reichl. “One of our goals was to slow down (if not stop) that process until homeowners were made fully aware of the adverse effects this project would have on our neighborhood. While the Committee still has other work to do, we feel that we’ve accomplished that particular goal.”

Many residents in Plum Grove Estates are opposed to the plan. Members of the community have taken it upon themselves to get experts to show that the bridge doesn’t need to be torn down and replaced. The community has proposed an alternative plan that involves repairing the bridge deck, without replacing, widening or elongating the bridge and without altering the flow of Briarwood Lane or resorting to cutting down mature trees.

“We’ve recently made some significant progress and have received a lot of support from Plum Grove Estates residents as well as residents of neighboring communities in the form of signed petitions and displaying of yard signs in support of Save Briarwood,” says Reichl. “We’ve also garnered interest in both the Briarwood Bridge and in the Plum Grove Estates neighborhood from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Their input regarding the bridge and the neighborhood has the potential to slow down, if not stop, the PTRD’s plans to replace Briarwood Bridge, and to change the direction of the project.”

And you can help too.

“We’ve been gathering petitions from both Plum Grove Estates residents and residents in neighboring communities,” continues Reichl. “We’re more than happy to have the support of anyone out there to show the Township that preserving part of history is an important issue to many people.”

I encourage you to look through the Save Briarwood website where, in addition to information about the campaign and the petition, you’ll find a scan of an original brochure detailing the benefits of home ownership in Plum Grove Estates. There’s also some cool information about the community’s land planners (Carl L. Gardner & Associates) and landscape architect (Harold O. Klopp), both of whom were recognized as leaders in their fields.

You can e-mail your signed petition to Save.Briarwood@yahoo.com or send it via postal mail to this address:

Save Briarwood
c/o 353 Park Drive
Palatine, IL  60067

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