Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Park District General Superintendent Michael P. Kelly and Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) joined members of the Bridgeport and rowing communities today to officially open Eleanor boat house at 2828 S. Eleanor Street, the fourth boat house to be built in the city under the Mayor’s tenure.
“The Eleanor Boat House supports the larger movement of ecological and recreational revival of the Chicago River,” Mayor Emanuel said. “For too long, Chicago residents were cut off from an asset in our own backyard. So today, we are transforming our rivers from relics of our industrial past to anchors for our neighborhoods’ futures.”
Eleanor boat house is a rowing training and boat storage facility that consists of two buildings. The first building, totaling 5,832 square feet, includes a floor area large enough to accommodate up to 57 “erg” machines that simulate the action of rowing and measure work output, a multi-purpose community room, main office, open seating area, restrooms with showers, and building storage. The second building, totaling 13,171 square feet, functions as boat storage and includes a rowing office, boat repair bay, vending machine area, restroom and four team storage areas. It is currently at capacity for boat storage.
“The Chicago Park District is excited to offer our residents an opportunity to tap into more recreational opportunities along the Chicago River,” said General Superintendent and CEO Michael P. Kelly. “With the opening of this most recent boat house in the Bridgeport community, we have reclaimed the Chicago River with access points at a total of four boat house locations from our parks, offering water-based recreations options for Chicagoans to enjoy.”
The Park District will offer programming at the facility, which is also be open to the public. The area’s rowing community consists of five separate groups: Recovery on Water (ROW), which serves cancer patients and survivors; St. Ignatius College Prep’s rowing group; the intramural team at the University of Chicago; the Chicago Training Center (CTC), which provides rowing opportunities to underserved youth; and Lincoln Park Boat Club (LPBC), a private organization rowing out of multiple city locations.
Site improvements include a 160 foot long accessible floating boat launch dock in the Chicago River, fishing pole stations, walkways, new lighting, permeable concrete pavement steps and ramp to transition down to the river’s edge, fitness equipment, open lawn areas, landscape plantings, bio-restoration planting at the dock area, on-site parking lot with eight parking spaces and drop off/loading zone. Between the two new buildings, a plaza space has been added with pathways and brick pavers that mimic the Chicago River and channels at this park location.
The construction of this south side boat house cost approximately $8.8 million, consisting of $5 million in private pledges, $2.8 million in committed State Grants (OSLAD and DCEO), $741,000 in Chicago Park District funding and a $259,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Chi-Cal Fund.
The completion of a fourth boat house along the Chicago River and the recently extended 1.25 mile Riverwalk demonstrates the Mayor's commitment to increased access and recreational opportunities on the river, as outlined in both his Building on Burnham plan and Our Great Rivers, a forward looking action agenda for Chicago's three rivers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided nearly $1 million in grant funds to help clean up the river and spur job creation.
The boat house in Bridgeport is the final of four boathouses built under the leadership of Mayor Emanuel. The boat houses at Clark Park, River Park and Ping Tom Park are already open and active. Each contains a concession facility and will serve both as access points and attractions along the river. The sites were chosen to line up with improvements the Chicago Department of Transportation is making to extend trails along the river, providing easier and more consistent river access for runners, biker, and walkers.