Mayor Richard M. Daley, members of the Gary Comer family and Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary A. Dempsey joined invited guests, community leaders and local residents today for the dedication of Chicago Public Library's new Greater Grand Crossing Branch at 1000 E. 73rd St.
"Libraries are an important part of our effort to give Chicago the best educational system of any city in the nation," said Mayor Richard M. Daley. "But a library is more than just a place of learning, they are true community anchors. Time and time again we see Chicagoans using their branch libraries as places to gather and meet their neighbors. This creates a sense of community, which is important in every neighborhood in the city."
Now serving a community that previously has been without a local library, the 8,900 square feet, and environmentally-friendly Greater Grand Crossing Branch is made possible in part through a land donation by the Gary Comer Science and Education Foundation.
Working in tandem with the nearby Gary Comer College Preparatory High School and the Gary Comer Youth Center, the $4.3 million Greater Grand Crossing Branch brings a renewed commitment of service to the community. Additionally, the branch offers two special programs sponsored by the Comer Foundation including "Teacher in the Library," to assist students with class work and "Cyber Navigator" to help patrons better understand technology.
The new Greater Grand Crossing Branch features a $500,000 opening day collection of books, newspapers and magazines for children, teens and adults. The collection also includes numerous educational and entertainment DVDs, online research databases and a Special Collection featuring African American History and Culture.
Specific environmentally friendly elements, accounting for sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality, were incorporated into the building's design. As a result, the Greater Grand Crossing Branch is anticipating a "Gold" rating under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) U.S. Green Building Council's Rating System.
Additional programs and services at Greater Grand Crossing Branch include 24 computer stations for adults and children with free Internet, free WiFi access, a Summer Reading Program, storytimes, story crafts, family programs and holiday celebrations. Adult programs will include book discussions, financial literacy and cultural programs of community interest.
The Chicago Public Library continues to encourage lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through materials, programs and cutting-edge technology.
In addition, Mayor Daley thanked the residents of the 5th and 20th Wards for their help in moving the City forward and highlighted some of the things the City and residents have accomplished together.
- In addition to the Greater Grand Crossing Branch Library the City opened the Bessie Coleman Branch in 1993 and renovated the Hiram Kelly Branch, the second oldest branch in 1989.
- We have built two new schools, renovated five and created five campus parks in the area. In addition, Science labs were added to two high schools, Hirsch Metro and Hyde Park Academic.
- As part of the Chicago Housing Authority's Plan for Transformation, the former Washington Park site has been upgraded to a mixed income community. There are 56 new mixed-income units in a community that is known as St. Edmund's Meadows, which opened in 2009 and is an example of the City working with faith-based organizations to develop surrounding communities.
- Also in the 20th Ward is Keystone Place, a mixed-income development with 69 units. It was a public-private partnership to revitalize the Washington Park area.
- Senior housing has been rehabilitated in a combined 600 units at Vivian Carter Apartments, Major Lawrence Apartments, Kenneth Campbell Apartments and Washington Park Elderly.
- 60 two-story family row house developments have received significant upgrades.
- The City has invested in public safety infrastructure throughout the community, including the new firehouse Engine Company 63, which was the first firehouse under the neighborhoods Alive 21 program and the completion of Engine Company 84, which houses the Chicago Fire Department's 5th District Headquarters and accommodates three shifts totaling about 50 firefighters and officers.
- The Chicago Police Department has one Satellite Station in the 20th ward and one the first POD cameras was placed at 45th and Wood.
- We have made a new of improvements to parks and open space throughout the community including:
- 30 new playgrounds some at Essex, Stout, Coleman and Jackson Parks.
- Expansion of Sherwood and Flying Squirrel Parks and acquisition of the Nash Community Center.
- Washington Park has also undergone development and improvement with the rehabilitation of the refectory, aquatic center and pool. Natural elements of the park, such as the lagoon, have also been rehabbed as well as the development of a boardwalk. Public art has been restored at the park, notably the conservation of the Fountain of Time monument, which is considered one of the nation's most significant sculptural fountains.
- The City Colleges of Chicago opened the New Kennedy-King College at 63rd and Halsted Streets in Englewood as an "anchor" for south side community revitalization. The new campus has 6 main structures and approximately $264 million was invested in the new Kennedy-King College.
- Recently, the City Colleges of Chicago South Shore Culinary Institute's home in the South Shore Cultural Center, a historic lake front Park District building, received a $6.5 million renovation including two floors of teaching and classroom facilities as well as The Parrot Cage restaurant and catering facilities on the ground floor.
- In 2004 the Englewood Senior Satellite Center was completed and it serves seniors from third wards.
- The Chicago Department of Transportation has invested over $182 million in infrastructure on the South side:
- As part of the Kennedy-King neighborhood revitalization, both 63rd St. and Halsted St. were reconstructed with new roadway, curb and gutters, new lighting, sidewalks and landscaped medians.
- The reconstruction of Lake Shore Drivefrom 23rd Street to 67th Street included replacement of the storm sewer, roadway lighting, the addition of five new pedestrian underpasses, reconstruction of two highway bridges and extensive median, gateway and pedestrian plaza landscaping.
- In addition one of the Chicago Transit Authority's largest capital improvement projects occurred on the Green line which included a $4.9 million renovation of the 63rd/Cottage Grove station.
- In 2009, all South Side Green Line stations received new high definition security cameras.
- The $294 million Red Line Rehab project was completed in 2006. The work included power, signal and communication upgrades for more than nine miles of the Red Line from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th Street, as well as seven station renovations.
- There are 50 bus routes that serve the South side including two new routes in the 20th ward and two new express routes in the 5th ward.
- There has been more than $19 million in TIF-generated public infrastructure and business improvements in the these communities:
- ADA improvements at Fiske and Seward schools and along 71st Street.
- Surface improvements on the 48th Street and Greenwood Avenue.
- The 76th and Stony Island Retail Development.
- Solistice on the Park a proposed 27-story residential tower.
- The City of Chicago has provided approximately 1450 units of affordable housing in the 5th and 20th wards.
- The Branch of Hope Apartments at 5628-30 S. Halsted St. provides 100 units of housing with on-site supportive services to help very-low income and formerly homeless individuals.
- In partnership with the City, St. Edmund's Redevelopment Corporation has built or rehabilitated over 500 units of mixed-income rental housing in the Washington Park community.
- Built under the City's Plan to End Homelessness, Harriet Tubman Apartments, a 28-unit building at 5741-59 S. Michigan Ave. provides supportive housing for homeless women and their children.
- New Homes for Englewood has provided 16 new single-family homes and 12 two-flats in a mix of affordable and market rate homes.
- St. Bernard's Place, located in the 6400 block of South Harvard St., serves as the first phase of a multi-phase plan to build single-family and two-flat homes under the City's New Homes for Chicago program in Englewood. Phase I, has provided more than 70 affordable units of affordable housing.
- Kenwood Pointe in the 6400 and 6500 block of South Kenwood Ave. provides 55 units of affordable housing in a mix of single-family and two-flat homes.
- Rosewood Estates at 342 W. 60th St, created 16 units of affordable housing in partnership with the City.
- Approved the conveyance of 14 City-owned parcels under the City Lots for City Living program for the construction of Keystone Place, a 69-unit mixed-income rental housing development that includes 17 buildings ranging from two- to six-flats.
- Conveyed City-owned parcels under the City Lots for City Living program for the development of Greenline Condominiums. The development includes six small condo buildings with a total of 37 affordable and market-rate housing units.
- Vacant parcels were also conveyed to Kimbark Maryland LLC under the City Lots program creating two condo buildings with 16 units. The buildings contributed tot the revitalization of the 6600 block of South Kimbark Ave.
- Revelation Pointe is being built under the City's HomeStart program. The City conveyed 28 parcels for the development with 39 single-family homes and two-flats that are being built in the area bounded by 67th Street on the north, 70th Street on the south, Dorchester Avenue on the west, and Stony Island Avenue on the east.
- Assisted in the redevelopment of Dante Harper Townhomes, by turning an existing CHA property into 36 units of grand-family housing
"Working together we've brought Chicago into the 21st century, and given it a bright future. It's been a joy and an honor to be your Mayor."