Monday, November 22, 2010

New Grass for Abbott Park

Got this e-mail recently from Clevan Tucker of Roseland Heights about artificial turf for Abbott Park:
The sense of connection to nature is hugely important for almost anyone who goes to a park. The Chicago Park District has plans to renovate the track behind Harlan High School by replacing the center area of mud holes with artificial turf.

According to the design for Chicago's green movement aren't we suppose to be adding more real greenery to the hard-surface ? Now, especially in Daley's Chicago, every thing is suppose to be blooming.

On Nov. 30 at 6:00pm in Abbott Park, CPD officials will be meeting with the Park Advisory panel and the community talking up the need for fake grass..

Currently, the greenery largely consists of grass, trees and ugly mud holes where cars jump the crub and drive into the park. So now the big question is with who's money do we pay for the turf CPS or CPD or both? These are the same people who faced real constraints and had no budget for popular park programs and cut them. An even bigger question mark is who will this benifit? How will this fake greenery be integrated into an overall design.

Beyond the proposed artifical turf, how much of the existing park will be improved? There remains plenty of room for park re-configuration. At least Park officials seem serious about bringing the community to the table. But will proposal need community vote for approval or like the zone change be done whether the community likes it or not?? Get ready for "Artificial Turf" or "The Rezone Sequel."


If only there was room to turn Abbott into a campus park for Harlan. Why not have a football stadium or a baseball stadium in addition to having fields for baseball and softball? Of course I also recognize that this isn't likely and the community should be able to use such facilities for their own purposes if they wish.

I wish the Park District could figure out what to do about that old playlot near 98th & Michigan. It's been years since they removed the playset. I wish it could find a new use in the future. Of course that in addition to getting that track in better shape.



  1. As far as the artificial grass it is probably coming from the Nike reuse a shoe program. The recycled shoe parts are used for a variety of surfaces. Nike has partnered with the Chicago Park district in several ways.

    Also, if it is a heavy traffic area. Would it not make sense to use this surface versus wasting money on natural grass?

  2. On Nov. 30 at 6:00 p.m. the Park District will present its plans to the Park District Advisory Council and the community. At that meeting I'm sure the rationale for the decision will be made evident. However I note that I have been lobbying for the renovation of this space for the past 3 years, seeking funding from State officials, City officials, CPS, the Park District and World Sport Chicago. Years ago Harlan used to host City championship track meets and now the space is relegated to a walking track. Why should our children have to practice in mud?

    The improvement of the grounds is a part of a long term plan to return Harlan to its place of prominence among City High Schools by improving the quality of education and the facilities. To that end we began putting new programs into Harlan, which were and remain successful. Then we lobbied for money to upgrade the physical plant ($2 million plus)& make the building ADA compliant (it is beautiful). As I stated to the Roseland Heights residents who were alarmed that a portion of the park was being re-zoned, the school was rezoned as a park in error, during a rewrite of the entire zoning code. It was clearly a school and we needed to clarify the zoning of school grounds ONLY, prior to obtaining permits. Some of the residents refused to accept this explanation that was given by myself & the lawyers for the Board and insisted it was a plan to tear down the school and build affordable housing. I was then told by certain community representatives that we had not sought their permission to add the new programs, thus the continuing re-zoning references.

    Should there be any plans or programs initiated that would adversely impact the quality of life of any citizens, I make sure citizens are notified in advance with ample opportunity for imput. However, neither the Board of Education nor the Park District is required to submit decisions to upgrade their facilities or programs to popular referendums. We may disagree with grass versus artifical turf, but for the life of me I can not see why any reasonable person would oppose improvements that benefit not only the children of the community but the community as a whole. I sincerely hope that people aren't raising this issue for political purposes, our children and the families that utilize the Park deserve better.


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