Last night’s meeting at the alderman’s office about our newest park, Park 526, was very informative. As you can see from the rendering available at the meeting, the former “eyesore” at Devon and McCormick will become a beautiful park open to the public around this time next year.
Current plans do not include a playground. Instead, the park is envisioned as a quiet space at the western gateway to West Ridge. It continues the existing bike path along the waterway, and includes a walking trail with three benches for rest stops. There will be a small hill and a water fountain, with open space for picnics on the grass. The open space is not meant for organized league sports, although programming for the park has yet to be determined. It’s possible that some families will choose to use the space for soccer, for example.
Native trees will grace the north entrance, and a decorative four-foot fence will enclose the space, with entry and exit portals on the north and sound ends of the park. t’s believed that urrent lighting should prove sufficient for the space. There will be some exercise stations, similar to what currently exists at Warren Park, but no furniture other than the benches due to concerns about vandalism and theft. Because the park will not have any staff, there will be no toilet facilities.
At some point a pedestrian-biker bridge will be built across Devon so walkers and riders will not have to cross the busy highway. There are currently ten parking spaces across Devon near the canoe launch; it is expected that no more than a couple of spaces will be added. It’s expected that shoppers at Home Depot and Lincoln Village who decide to stop at the park will be able to remain in the shopping center parking lots.
The next steps include hiring engineering services, obtaining permits, and obtaining work bids over the Fall and Winter of 2016-2017, with work set to begin in Spring. The alderman was able to make $600,000 in TIF funds available for the park, and Banner Storage, which will turn the theater into a storage facility on the park’s south border, promised to contribute $10,000 for playground equipment. However, it was stated several times that Park 526 is envisioned as a “passive park,” so the question of attractions for children is unsettled.
The car wash has been demolished and Banner is still in the process of obtaining permits for its building. The Chicago Park District has a 66-year, perpetually-renewable lease on the new park.
It will, of course, at some point need a name other than “Park 526.” Perhaps neighborhood school children could be involved in choosing a name. I think it would be nice if the park were named for Bernie Stone, our longest-serving alderman, or Rabbi Wolf, who made the park possible.
It will be a nice addition to the neighborhood.