March 12, 2015

Mayor Emanuel Calls On Governor Rauner To Reverse Harmful Suspension

Illinois Department of Natural Resources freezes state grants for park improvements, undercutting Chicago’s dramatic park expansion, corresponding economic development

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today called on Governor Bruce Rauner to immediately reverse his decision to suspend Chicago park improvements that are planned or in progress after learning late yesterday that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) instructed the Chicago Park District to immediately freeze state grants awarded for park improvements.

“The Chicago Park District and I have worked to enhance the quality of life in Chicago by providing safe and inviting parks and facilities; and to create a park system that prioritizes the needs of children and families,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Governor Rauner’s decision to suspend grants for new parks across Chicago and the rest of the state will hurt every child who wants to swing on a swing set or play on the monkey bars, and is a slight to every parent who wants their child to have a safe, community-oriented place to enjoy.”

A total of 27 Chicago projects at 25 parks across Chicago stand to lose $28 million for improvements if this funding is not restored.

“Over the last four years, we’ve enacted one of the most comprehensive strategies of any city in the nation to invest in parks, playgrounds and recreational spaces,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Not only has this effort led to the dramatic expansion of the Park District and corresponding economic growth, Chicago’s park system has become the first urban park district to ever win the Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. Governor Rauner’s decision to freeze park projects undercuts the tremendous progress we’ve made in Chicago to create a brighter, healthier future for children in every Chicago neighborhood.”

The following projects have received IDNR grants and are now in jeopardy due to the freeze :
• Archer Park facility renovation
• Big Marsh Park development
• La Villita Park
• Columbus Park facility renovation
• Columbus Park artificial turf fields
• Dvorak Park facility renovation
• Garfield Park facility renovation
• Hamilton Park facility renovation
• Holstein Park facility renovation
• Humboldt Park field house exterior renovation
• Independence Park bungalow green renovation
• Independence Park field house ADA transition renovation
• Palmer Park ADA facility renovation
• Robichaux Park facility renovation
• Shabbona Park field house ADA transition renovation
• Sherman Park facility renovation
• South Shore Cultural Center interior & exterior renovation
• Walsh Park expansion
• Austin Park town hall facility renovation
• Douglas Park facility renovation
• Eckhart Park facility renovation
• Garfield Conservatory – garden lookout (GPCA)
• Gately Park indoor track and field facility construction
• Harrison Park facility renovation
• Lincoln Cultural Center facility renovation
• Park 571 site development
• The 606- Magid Glove acquisition

Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Park District have been committed to enhancing the quality of life of Chicago residents by providing safe and inviting parks and facilities and creating a park system that prioritizes the needs of children and families. Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, Chicago’s park system has drastically expanded with the addition of more than 750 acres of new park land, 27 new turf fields, 17 new parks, 11 new community facilities, more than 150 refurbished playgrounds and more than $500 million in capital investments from public and private sources.

Late last year, an economic analysis showed that parks and playgrounds are a driver of economic growth for the City of Chicago. The analysis concluded that Chicago Park District parks add at least $900 million to the value of residential properties located close to parks. Moreover, major events, special assets and tourism in these parks drive an economic impact of between $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion for the City each year.