The Chicago Park District is one step closer to breaking ground on a new $64 million Southwest Side headquarters and park. The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners gave their approval last week on the new construction contract. The contract, given to F.H. Paschen and All Construction, included minority and women-owned businesses.
The new 17-acre headquarters and park facility will be in the Brighton Park community. It will include two turf fields, a large lawn, play space, an administration building, and a field house, along with other amenities. “It’s going to be transformative for this community. It is a big project, it’s major construction in an area that we envision will be totally lifted by having a project of this magnitude locate there,” said Avis LaVelle, Board President.
Brighton Park has long been in great need of green space, as are many area communities on the Southwest Side. Land ready for development in the Brighton Park area is usually slated for housing or industrial use.
Heather Gleason, Director of Planning and Development for the Park District acknowledged that viable parkland was difficult to find. But the organization was determined to put its resources in an underserved community.
Gleason was not alone in her commitment to serve the community. Mike Kelly, Park District CEO and General Superintendent said, “It’s not easy to go to 49th and Western and get $60 million. The government needs to invest sometimes when we can’t get the private sector to go there.”
Since the project is using land on industrial property, the city has begun the clean-up process. They are removing any environmentally unsafe materials. Once completed the land will be covered in layers of clean soil. The project could break ground as soon as late spring.
Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer and journalist based in Chicago. Find her on social @beboldshineon.