A variety of park, garden, and green space improvement projects will move forward across the Near West, West, and North sides through financial measures approved today by City Council.
“Parks and gardens, no matter how big or small, can make a world of difference to the livability of local neighborhoods,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Each of these projects will reinforce what it means to be a Chicagoan and the many ways that people experience the city outside their homes, schools, and work places.”
A new park will be developed on 1.75 acres of land at 1900 W. Washington St. through $3.1 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance. Owned by the Chicago Housing Authority, the vacant, Near West Side site will be transferred to the Chicago Park District, which will use the funds to add a playground, landscaping, walkways, benches and lighting. The park will serve as an open space amenity for the CHA’s Westhaven residential complex, a mixed-income development that is replacing the former Henry Horner Homes public housing project.
Penn and LaSalle II Magnet Elementary School Gardens
Vegetable and flower gardens will be developed on the grounds of North Lawndale’s Penn School and West Town’s LaSalle II School through $307,000 in Open Space Impact Fees (OSIF).
Approximately $187,000 of the fees will be allocated to transform a .09 acre asphalt lot into a growing area at Penn, 1616 S. Avers Ave. The remaining $120,000 will be used to create a garden on a .25-acre site at LaSalle II, 1148 N. Honore St. Both gardens will be constructed by Openlands conservation agency and be maintained by students, teachers, parents, and community residents.
The OSIF program collects fees associated with the construction of new residential projects to apply to the open space needs of surrounding neighborhoods.
Jacob Playlot Park
Lincoln Square’s Jacob Playlot will be expanded onto .26 acres of adjacent land at 4658 N.Virginia Ave. through $206,000 in Open Space Impact Fees. The funds will pay for site preparation, new fencing and landscaping costs. Last year, the Park District purchased the vacant parcel, located next to the Brown Line commuter rail tracks, from the Chicago Transit Authority.
An additional $195,000 in Open Space Impact Fees will support the conversion of a vacant lot at 1358 W. Monroe St. on the Near West Side into a .40-cre dog-friendly extension of Skinner Park, located across the street. Last year, the City Council approved $525,000 in TIF assistance and $250,000 in OSIF to pay for soil improvements, fencing, and other features. The additional funding will support site improvement costs.
Ellen Gates Starr Park
An outdated playground at Starr Park, 2306 W. Maypole Ave., will be replaced with ADA-compliant equipment and surfaces. The project will be entirely financed with $730,000 in TIF assistance.
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