Mayor Richard M. Daley today joined residents at the Fourth Annual Green Night at the Tarkington School of Excellence, 3330 W. 71st St., and thanked residents of the 18th and 21st Wards for their help in moving the City forward.
“I’m here today to thank you for participating in the process. I want to thank every resident, every business and every not-for-profit for their advice, support and cooperation. Your ideas, your input and your time have helped move the city forward,” Daley said at another stop on the “Neighborhood Appreciation Tour” he is making before he leaves office in May.
As part of its mission to provide a safe and rigorous academic environment, Tarkington School of Excellence is committed to helping its students become active and productive members of their community.
“At events like this, students learn first hand about the importance of being responsible for the environment around us,” said Mayor Daley. “It is fitting that we are here today to celebrate Green Night, because Tarkington was the first Chicago Public School in the entire system to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification.”
Chicago is acknowledged as the national leader among cities in green roofs with 600 completed or underway totaling more than 7 million square feet. Green roofs are required to be installed on buildings of developers who receive economic assistance from the City.
“In Chicago, the environment is a major component of our strategy to attract people and jobs and to remain competitive in the global economy,” said Daley.
Daley pointed out that by doing such things as planting more than half a million trees in Chicago and creating open space, removing pollution from the air and encouraging construction of buildings that are smart for the environment, the quality of life is enhanced for all the residents of the city.
The Mayor highlighted some of the major accomplishments that the City and the residents of these communities have worked together to move the city forward:
- Taking steps to increase green space throughout the South Side such as:
- Expanding parks and building new playgrounds at 16 Chicago Park District facilities.
- The construction of Hayes Park Natatorium, which added new recreational opportunities.
- Enhancing the facilities at Marquette Park including the field house and lagoon, plus a new artificial turf athletic field, running track, and a junior golf course.
- Improvements to Brainerd Park, featuring rehabilitated tennis and basketball courts.
- The City has made several improvements to public transportation on behalf of residents, including the Red Line Rehab Project, which was completed in 2006 and brought more reliable and efficient rapid transit service to the South Side.
- The investment of more than $50 million in TIF-assisted public facilities, business, housing improvements in local communities including: retail establishments at the Chatham Market, infrastructure improvements along 79th Street and the creation of Gateway Industrial Park.
- The Chicago Department of Transportation has renovated the Kedzie Avenue Streetscape between 80th and 83rd Streets to include new sidewalks, curbs and gutters, ADA pedestrian ramps, street trees, and sidewalk planters.
- The implementation of several strategic initiatives in the community to enhance public safety including:
- Partnerships with local police districts and community members that have resulted in anti-violence measures.
- Programs in schools that connect officers with young people in proactive ways to help kids turn away from gangs and violence and instead become involved in positive activities in the community.
- An annual National Night Out event to rally against crime and drug use in our neighborhoods.
- The Chicago Fire Department continues to educate Chicago’s residents about fire safety. The Department also offers free smoke detectors and installation of the detectors in homes is available in every community.
- The Chicago Public Schools have made major investments in the schools of this community, including:
- The construction of two new schools – Cuffe Elementary and Simeon Career Academy.
- CPS has recently broken ground for the new Southwest Area High School to provide a state of the art educational experience for the students of this community
- Additions have been made to four schools - Westcott, Julian, Durkin, Park and McKay Schools - and renovations have been made to eight more schools.
- And, through the enhancement of campus parks at Wacker, Gresham, Turner-Drew and Westcott Schools, the City has added more green space.
- Partnerships between After School Matters and local schools such as Simeon and Bogan High Schools provide youth with creative educational experiences to supplement their academic learning.
- The construction of two new library branches – Brainerd and Wrightwood-Ashburn – and expanded the Woodson Regional Library to increase the research collection and access to computers on behalf of patrons.
- Increased housing options on behalf of area residents, including:
- Independent living residences for seniors such as the Brainerd Senior Center, Wrightwood Senior Apartments and the Senior Suites of Marquette Park.
- Under the CHA’s Plan for Transformation, the City has renovated Lowden Homes to make all 127 units more energy efficient and increased the safety features.
"Thank you for participating in the process. Thank you for your ideas, your input and your time. 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," said Daley.