Monday, January 24, 2011

Chinatown closer to new field house, library

Chinatown residents are inching closer to winning some city resources that they’ve lobbied for during the last several years. Chicago’s City Council allocated funding in September for a new field house to replace one that was torn down nearly 50 years ago. More recently, the Chicago Public Library and city officials identified a site for a new library branch and have started moving to acquire the property. The progress comes just as Chinese-Americans observe their 100-year anniversary in Chicago’s South Side Chinatown.

The field house has been a particular sore point for young and elderly Chinatown residents alike. “When I started fighting for this thing I had children,” said Leonard Louie, President of the Ping Tom Memorial Park Advisory Council. “And I think today my grandchildren are old enough to be able to use it. That's how long it's been.”

Louie himself used to play basketball at the old field house at Hardin Park, before the state tore it down in 1962 to expand the Dan Ryan Expressway. At the time, said Louie, Chinatown residents were promised that they’d soon get another field house. Instead, Louie and other residents say children now often play volleyball over sidewalk fences, because there’s no proper facility or community center. “It's definitely a problem because you just have kids hanging out on the street and looking for things to do,” said Louie. “You're in a situation where you're just asking for trouble.”
The Chicago City Council approved a $10 million allocation from the River South TIF District to finally build the facility near the southern end of Ping Tom Memorial Park. At that price, park leaders will likely have to pare back their original vision for the facility. “The original plans for the field house were to include a natatorium, which is an indoor swimming pool,” said Louie. But park district officials estimate that could cost anywhere from $15 million to $18 million. More recent field houses, like the Taylor-Lauridsen Playground Park and Jesse Owens Park, did not include swimming pools, and ran just below $10 million. Still, Louie hopes whatever the city builds could be expanded to include a swimming pool later. He and other park leaders are also exploring the possibility of raising additional money to fund the natatorium.
This story is worth a read. And this is the kind of thing I would like to see out of our community!

No comments:

Post a Comment

PLEASE READ FIRST!!!! Comment Moderating and Anonymous Comment Policy

While anonymous comments are not prohibited we do encourage you to help readers identify you so that other commenters may respond to you. Either read the moderating policy for how or leave an identifier (which could be a nickname for example) at the end of the comment.

Also note that this blog is NOT associated with any public or political officials including Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer!