Park enhancement means plenty of slips, slides and splashes

A new $1.5 million water park addition is planned for Palmer Park, 111th Street and King Drive. The South Side park has been an integral part of the Roseland community since 1904, primarily because of its programs and services, according to Ald. Anthony B

The park is in his 9th Ward. “This park has basketball courts, a swimming pool, a fitness center, a children’s play area, tennis courts, and now a mini water park,” he said. The water park will be completed by June when the swim season begins, Beale said. That’s good news to 13- year-old Jason Taylor who has been swimming at the park since he was 7.

“I can’t wait until the school year ends so I can start enjoying my summer break by going swimming,” Taylor said. “My friends and I go there all the time. We go play basketball, swim and sometimes just hang out and mess with the females.” Taylor’s dad, Edward, enjoys the park’s swimming pool and fitness center.

“Building a water park at Palmer Park was a smart idea. A lot of times the pool is crowded with young kids, so an adjacent water park will keep them out of our hair,” said Taylor, 38. “The park is a central location for Roseland because people go to the park for various reasons. For me it’s the swimming pool.

I love to swim and so does the Roseland community.” The state and Chicago Park District financed the addition. “[State Senate President] Emil Jones Jr. secured $500,000 from the state; state Rep. Bob Rita secured $500,000 and the Park District matched it with $500,000,” Beale said. Jessica Faulkner, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District, said she didn’t know if the water park addition would raise the park’s insurance liability.

To reduce liability, the swimming pool does not have a diving board and diving is not allowed. With so many people utilizing the park, Beale said neighboring businesses would benefit. “Across the street from the park is Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep High School, so students use the park and go swimming after school.

And down the street and up the hill on Michigan Avenue are lots of retail stores such as restaurants to clothes.” The wave of violence that has killed a number of Chicago Public Schools students thus far is another reason why enhancing the park was important to Beale.

“We have got to do something to get our kids off the street and swimming could be one solution,” he said. “Swimming is a universal activity the whole family can enjoy together.”

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