Please join your neighbors and me as we cut the ribbon cutting on new lakefront parkland in the 49th Ward: an expansion of Hartigan Park. The ceremony and ribbon cutting will take place on Monday, September 22nd, 6:00 p.m. at Albion Avenue and the Lake.
Up until this summer, the property was a vacant gravel lot (see the “before” photo below, courtesy of DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard) and was once a parking lot. The property was owned by two neighbors on the block–Matt Connelly and John Hartigan, grandson of the late Alderman David Hartigan, for whom the parked is named. They wanted to see the land preserved as open space and offered to sell the property at below market value.
At my urging, the City in 2007 facilitated the sale of the property to NeighborSpace, a not-for-profit organization established to preserve open space and funded by the City, the Park District, and the Cook County Forest Preserve. Over the next few years, community residents and I worked to identify funds to transform the property into green space.
A proposal to develop the site as a community garden and dune restoration area, using my discretionary “aldermanic menu money,” appeared on the 2012 49th Ward Participatory Budgeting ballot, but fell a few votes shy.
The Park District and I finally identified a funding source–“open space impact fees,” which are assessed on neighborhood developers. These impact fees are set aside for the purchase and development of open park land and can be used for that purpose only.
The Park District developed a proposal that called for replacing the gravel with new top soil, grass, a six-foot path made of crushed stone and a pergola with some stone seating at a cost of $275,000. The plan received the overwhelming support of neighborhood residents who attended a community meetingI sponsored in April, 2013.
The City Council Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation approved the expenditure of the funds in my first meeting as Chairman of the Committee in September, 2013, and work on the project began last spring.
The expansion of Hartigan Park is a great example of how Participatory Budgeting helps to inspire new projects. Though it didn’t win funding through Participatory Budgeting, community members recognized its worth and kept working with my office to find a way to make it happen. It is amazing what we can accomplish when we work together.
I look forward to seeing you at this celebration of the creation of new lakefront parkland in our neighborhood and the work we did as a community to make it happen.