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Mayor Richard M. Daley today joined Lakeview Community leaders to celebrate the renovation of the Sheil Park playground at 3505 N. Southport Ave.
“Our parks and open spaces are among our greatest treasures. When we invest in parks and playgrounds and field houses, we are helping keep our neighborhoods strong,” Daley said in a news conference at the park.
Daley said that it has been important to him that the City’s parks offer new and renovated facilities to meet the changing desires of residents.
In the last 22 years, he said, the Chicago Park District has acquired 501 additional acres of parkland, added 73 new parks, built 18 new field houses and built or refurbished 70 fitness centers. In that time, Chicago has added 1,500 acres of open space.
Today's parks system now includes: 537 baseball fields, 218 soccer fields, 520 playgrounds, 86 swimming pools, 18 dog parks, 9 skate parks, 9 ice skating rinks, 6 golf courses and 89 community gardens.
As part of the renovation project, the existing Sheil Park playground received many improvements, such as a new stone entry plaza with steps and a stroller-friendly ramp, concrete pavers, benches, entry planters, fencing, landscaping and other site furnishings.
The new playground equipment and soft surfacing have a baseball theme, complete with a chalk scoreboard that the community requested to highlight the park’s close proximity to Wrigley Field.
The park visit also represented another stop on the “Neighborhood Appreciation Tour” the Mayor will make in communities all over the city before he leaves office in May to thank Chicagoans for their collaboration in helping the City move forward.
“Today I want to thank the residents of the 44th ward for their hard work and dedication. Working together, we've brought Chicago into the 21st century, and given it a bright future,” he said.
The Mayor said the renovation of Sheil Park is just one of the projects that have helped to make this part of the City a better place.
He identified a number of those initiatives in the 44th Ward:
- In 2007, Mayor Daley dedicated the Center on Halsted, the first community center in the Midwest for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The $20 million center was constructed with the help of private contributions and city, state and federal assistance. It provides social and recreational programs, counseling, legal and mental health services for young and elderly people.
The Center on Halsted is an important project that helps Chicago lead the way when it comes to meeting the needs and aspirations of the members of the gay and lesbian community.
- The City recently opened the new 23rd District Police Station that replaced the old Town Hall district station, which was built in the 1930's and didn’t have adequate space or amenities to service the community.
The new 44,000-square-foot station is designed to accommodate the needs of the police, as well as the community with a 100-seat meeting room. It will also achieve LEED “Gold” Certification for environmental design.
- Both the Chicago Public Schools and the Public Building Commission have carried out numerous projects in this community in recent years, including improvements or renovations at four schools in the 44th Ward, with two new playlots and a campus park at School and Seminary.
- The Chicago Park District has completed 12 separate improvement projects at 11 parks and beach locations in the 44thWard, including major improvements to Belmont Harbor including the installation of 108 boating slips.
Other park projects include improvements to the lakefront multi-use trail, the development of the Diversey Driving Range and the acquisition and development of Kelly Park.
- The CTA has undertaken big projects that have benefited the 44th ward over the past 20 years. For example, the CTA has:
- Opened three new train stations on the Brown Line and Red Lines at Southport, Addison and Belmont.
- And today, all CTA buses are equipped with cameras for customer safety and customers can use the award-winning BusTracker to plan their travels.
- The Southport Farmers Market on Saturdays gives our residents more access to healthy, fresh foods.
- The City has completed a dozen street-scaping projects in the ward, 20 major street improvement projects and marked out four miles of bike routes in the ward.
- The City helped redevelop the former Wieboldt's department store in the heart of the Lincoln-Belmont-Ashland commercial district.
- The City also helped rebuild the Lake Michigan shoreline from Belmont to Diversey, and improved the Lake Shore Drive underpasses at Barry and Roscoe.
“So I’m here today to thank every resident, every community organization, every business, every not-for-profit for their advice, support and cooperation on all these projects,” Daley said.
“Thank you for participating in the process. Thank you for your ideas, your input and your time. That’s what our system of government is based on – the people.
“It’s been a joy and an honor to be your Mayor,” he said.
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