CHICAGO (CBS) — The future of a Chicago nature preserve hit a boiling point this week as neighbors continued to demand the shutdown of Forest Playschool, an all-season, outside only daycare.

For nearly two months CBS 2’s Lauren Victory has been asking opponents of the daycare to go on camera to explain their issues with Forest Playschool. They declined but did invite CBS 2 to a public meeting.

Chicago Park District leaders predicted some heat, but things exploded at the meeting. People shouted feedback out of turn. Someone unplugged the microphone.

“People don’t know this, but that 12 acres is habitat to a lot of deer, coyotes and other animals that are making their way into our neighborhood because their habitat is being displaced,” said Janita Tucker, an opponent of the daycare.

“When we work in the gardens, we often have to try to get the kids to leave the horses alone,” said opponent Nancy Katz.

Opponents also expressed outrage over debris in the area, which was cleaned up in December.

“And taken away by the City of Chicago,” Tucker said. She also said taxpayers paid for that.

Supporters reminded park-goers that children are learning to love the outdoors.

“The more there are people in these woods, the more it’s going to be protected,” said Sol Hinami-Mayorga, a parent and supporter of the daycare.

“The idea of nature play is to be in nature,” said parent Matthew Mitchell.

Forest Playschool’s attorney shot down the rumor that the daycare is unlicensed. He said they have a working agreement with the Department of Children and Family Services to operate as is.


Lauren Victory