CHICAGO (CBS) — Federal officials visited Northerly Island on Tuesday to see the progress that has been made toward turning the site into an urban oasis on the lakefront.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy had high praise for Mayor Rahm Emanuel as she walked along the hills and wetlands areas being created on the manmade peninsula that was once the Meigs Field airport.

“We actually worked together on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and this project was made possible by $3.1 million in funding from that initiative, as well as the commitment of the state,” she said.

Emanuel gave a nod to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who bulldozed Meigs Field to turn Northerly Island into a lakefront nature preserve.

“This used to be a runway. It used to serve a lot of corporate interests; a lot of people taking private planes, making their way down to Springfield, making their way to other parts of the state or other parts of the country. It’s now going to serve our kids and our families,” he said.

Renowned Architect Jeanne Gang is one of those who’s designed the Northerly Island project to be an extension of the nearby museums campus. She says there will be recreations of what the area looked like before the City was built. She acknowledges, though, that this is all being built on what was a man-made island.

Assistant Secretary JoEllen Darcy, who heads the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer, says the transformation of the former Meigs Field is part of protecting Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes.

There’s already camping in the area just south of the Museum Campus, and more to come.