Mayor Announces Significant Investment in Bloomingdale Trail
Mayor Rahm Emanual addresses members of the media and other guests during a March 12 press conference at Humboldt Park's Yates Elementary School.
When Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a $290 million commitment to new park space in Chicago, including several million dollars for the Bloomingdale Trail, he chose Humboldt Park as the site of his press conference.
On March 12 at Yates Elementary School, 1839 N. Richmond St., Mayor Emanuel, alongside colleagues from the Trust for Public Land, Chicago Parks Department, and Logan Square Neighborhood Association, announced an “unprecedented investment” in Chicago open space at the neighborhood level.
With no large-scale open-space projects currently slated for the downtown area, “I wanted to seize this opportunity to support our neighborhoods,” Emanuel explained.
The Bloomingdale Trail – a nearly 3-mile elevated park that will traverse Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park, and Bucktown by repurposing abandoned railroad track above Bloomingdale Avenue – will see a big boost from a combination of public and private funding, including significant contributions from Exelon, CNA, Boeing, and the Chicago Parks District. “We have the plans, we have the resources, and this will be open by 2014,” the Mayor said.
The Bloomingdale is just winding up its framework phase and will shortly launch its design phase, with leadership coming from the Trust for Public Land, Chicago Parks Department, and Friends of Bloomingdale Trail. Community outreach to the neighborhoods along the trail is expected to pick up steam in the coming months, as leaders have recognized the need for significant and meaningful engagement with community residents along this linear park. The Mayor honored the early visionaries who shepherded the concept of the Bloomingdale long before it had any financial resources allocated.
A combination of public and private support will also facilitate new open-space projects citywide, including the following:
- 8 new soccer fields
- 100 new basketball courts
- 180 acres of new park land
- ~20 new playgrounds per year for the next 5 years
These new open-space initiatives are expected to create 1200 jobs throughout the city. Lucy Gomez, Health Outreach Director for the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and long-time community activist, expressed gratitude for the memories the Bloomingdale will create for her 9-year-old daughter, but she also issued two key calls to action to the Mayor: 1) Make sure the Trail is designed for all of us, i.e. the diverse populations that make up its adjacent neighborhoods, and 2) Prioritize local applicants for the 1200 new job opportunities.
“This community was built by strong, hard-working people,” Gomez said. “We’re ready to work. We’re ready to play.”
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