Join Principal Adrian Dobbins and me as we cut the ribbon on Field School’s new playground, outdoor garden and athletic field. The ceremony takes place tomorrow (Thursday, September 20th), 3:30 p.m., at Field School, 7019 N. Ashland.
Thanks to a $1.4 million grant from Space to Grow, Field School’s outdoor campus was transformed from a huge slab of lifeless asphalt into a vibrant space to play, learn and be outdoors.
Field School and my office held a series of meetings in 2017 to solicit input from students, staff, parents and community residents on the design of the new school yard. Many of the suggestions were included in the final design.
The new schoolyard manages stormwater by using plants and natural elements such as rain gardens, native gardens, and trees to allow water to infiltrate into the ground.
Features include permeable rubber and asphalt, permeable artificial turf fields, cisterns, and narrow channels known as “runnels,” all of which provide underground water storage that can hold thousands of gallons of water and slowly release it back to the sewer to avoid overloading the system during a big storm.
The new schoolyard, with its edible and native plant gardens, also will serve as an outdoor classroom for Field’s students, allowing teachers to develop curriculum on nature and horticulture. Finally, the addition of a track, turf field, exercise equipment and new playground equipment will provide many health and wellness opportunities for students and community residents alike.
The Field School grounds have long needed attention. Despite the school’s name, Field School’s grounds were not a field, but almost entirely covered with asphalt, limiting recreational opportunities and contributing to storm water run-off. The school’s playground equipment was in complete disrepair and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) did not have funding to replace it.
In the early 1990’s, CPS installed several classroom trailers on its parking lot to alleviate severe overcrowding. Field’s overcrowding problem was solved with the 2003 construction of New Field School, which I helped shepherd. Most of the trailers were removed, but one ugly trailer remained. With the Space to Grow grant, that neighborhood eyesore was finally removed this summer.
Many parents and community members advocated for this project over the years. I would like to thank Principal Dobbins, community volunteers Annie Gill Bloyer and Rebecca Weinberg, and my staff assistant, Bob Fuller, for pushing this project across the finish line.
Space to Grow is a partnership of CPS, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Openlands, an open space advocacy organization. The grant was funded through the City of Chicago Department of Water Management, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Metropolitan Chicago and CPS’s capital budget.
Please join us tomorrow to celebrate this community victory!