Mayor unveils $290 million plan to renovate parks over five years
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter email@example.com March 12, 2012 4:32PM
Mary Eysenbach, director of Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park, which sustained hail damage during major thunderstorms last year. File Photo. | John H. White~Sun-Times.
Updated: April 14, 2012 8:10AM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel took the wraps off a five-year, $290 million capital plan Monday that will bring new parks, fieldhouses, artificial soccer turf and other recreational improvements within 10 minutes of every Chicago resident.
“It’s a unique time in our city’s history without a single large project downtown [so there’s an opportunity] to make an unprecedented investment in … communities where our residents live,” the mayor said at a news conference at Yates Elementary School, 1839 N. Richmond.
“We have a beautiful front yard. We’re now gonna make our backyard as beautiful as our front yard. ... I call it — and I talked to the [park] board about this — it’s the quiet revolution in our neighborhood parks.”
As the Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this week, the plan includes construction of the 2.7 mile Bloomingdale Trail. That’s the long-anticipated plan to transform an abandoned railway into a linear park on the Northwest Side.
But that’s only the beginning. Other projects include:
180 acres of newly acquired park land serving 100,000 residents.
12 new parks or park developments impacting 300,000 residents, including community and vegetable gardens, nature preserves, athletic fields and playgrounds.
$9 million to build 20 new playgrounds serving 100,000 kids between the ages of 2 and 14.
Eight new artificial turf soccer fields serving 50,000 young players and 100 renovated basketball courts serving 150,000 teens.
Six new community buildings serving 220,000 residents.
$11 million to renovate and restore the hail-damaged Garfield Park Conservatory. The storm destroyed “almost all” the glass.
$5.4 million to renovate the McFetridge Sports Center, replace the Park District’s only indoor ice skating rink and upgrade tennis court lighting.
Construction of a $16 million fieldhouse at Ping Tom Park and a $12 million field house at Jesse White Park.
$12 million worth of facility upgrades at: Austin Town Hall Park; Clarendon Park; Fuller Park; Garfield Park gold dome; Humboldt Park field house; Independence Park; Indian Boundary Park; Rutherford Sayre Park; Shabonna Park; Sherman Park; Stanton Park and the South Shore Cultural Center.
Two of the four boat houses along the Chicago River that Emanuel promised to build last fall.
Park District Supt. Michael Kelly stressed that all but $1 million of the $12 million makeover under way at Garfield Park Conservatory will be covered by insurance. That’s even though most government agencies are self-insured.
“Ten years ago, there was a fire there. And we were smart enough to realize that it’s time to get some insurance,” Kelly said.