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Hundreds Of Trees Cut Down In Northwest Side's Legion Park, Many Unhappy

CHICAGO (CBS) -- You'd think a twister went through Legion Park on the city's Northwest Side – with hundreds of trees leveled.

But it wasn't Mother Nature who caused all the destruction. As CBS 2's Jim Williams found out, it was the city – and people aren't happy.

Neighbors are furious – with tree stumps and dead branches as far as the eye can see. What's more, they insist they didn't see the destruction coming.

Janette Dingee says her daily, peaceful walk was shattered by a stunning sight:

"It's been horrifying what's been done, "Dingee said. "I am brokenhearted. I walked up and down here crying yesterday."

Hundreds of trees chopped down along the North Shore Channel of the Chicago River system in Legion Park in the Budlong Woods neighborhood.

"It's mindless, thoughtless, indiscriminate, heartbreaking destruction," Dingee said.

Over a half a mile along the river, from Foster Avenue north to Bryn Mawr Avenue, it looks like the aftermath of a tornado.

"There was always like lots of trees and it was always just a pleasant walk, and now it's gone and it's kind of shocking," said Alyssa Werstler.

The Chicago Park District tells us the trees were removed to shore up the river bank and stop erosion. A spokesman says once that work is finished, native trees will be planted.

The work is set to be finished in 2022 - part of what the Park District calls a five year ecosystem restoration project.

But at Legion Park on Tuesday, there were just so many tree stumps and severed branches.

"I mourn the loss of the trees," said Mike Plecki.

The Park District said the project was discussed in public meetings, but we talked to several neighbors and all said they knew nothing about it until they saw these downed trees.

Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) said his office also was not notified.

"We didn't get a heads up. They didn't let the neighbors know before the work was done," Vasquez said. "There was definitely a breakdown in communication."

Vasquez is planning a meeting with neighbors and the Army Corps of Engineers.

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