Freedom of Information Act

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a state statute that provides the public the right to access government documents and records. The law provides that a person can ask a public body for a copy of its records on a specific subject and the public body must provide those records, unless there is an exemption in the statute that protects those records from disclosure. 

Exemptions are described under 5 ILCS 140, Section 7 and Section 7.5.  In addition, some records may be subject to confidentiality provisions imposed by other state or federal laws; the FOIA process for disclosure of information does not supersede these other applicable statutory and judicial mandates.  

The Freedom of Information Act is designed to allow a person to inspect or receive copies of records.  It is not designed to require a public body to answer questions.  For general questions regarding the Park District, go here, or call (312) 742-PLAY (7529). 

 

How to Submit a FOIA Request

FOIA requests must be in writing.  Please include the following:

  • Requestor’s name, mailing address and daytime telephone number
  • A description of the records that are being requested.
    Please be as specific as possible when describing the records you are seeking. 
  • Indicate how you would like the documents sent to you: via email, regular mail, fax or made available for pickup at Chicago Park District headquarters (address below).
  • If you are requesting a waiver of any fees for copying the documents, you must include a statement of the purpose of the request with a specific explanation as to why your request for information is in the public interest.

FOIA requests can be mailed, faxed, emailed or dropped off in person to

Freedom of Information Officer
Chicago Park District
541 N. Fairbanks Court
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Fax: (312) 742-5276
Email: foia@chicagoparkdistrict.com

Requests can also be submitted using the FOIA Request Form.
The form is provided as a convenience but is not required to be used.

 

FOIA Contact

Maria Castaneda
Phone: (312) 742-4789
E-mail: foia@chicagoparkdistrict.com

 

 

FOIA FAQ

When can I expect a response to my request?

For non-commercial purpose requests, a response will be provided within five (5) business days from the day after the request is received. 

Pursuant to 5 ILCS 140/3(d) that time period may be extended for an additional five business days from the date of the original due date.  If additional time is needed you will receive an extension letter.

In addition, a written agreement with the requestor can extend the deadline for response beyond the statutory time requirements. 

For commercial purpose FOIA requests, a response will be provided within 21 business days from the day after the request is received.

 

When does the five (5) business days time period start?

On the first business day after the request is “received”.  The date that the request was received does not count as “day one.”

 

When is a FOIA request sent by email“received”?  

If a FOIA request sent by email appears in the recipient’s mailbox during normal working hours, it is “received” on that day.  FOIA requests received after 5PM, or on weekends, or holidays will be marked as “received” on the following business day. 

 

Is there a fee?

There is no fee for the first 50 pages of black & white, letter (8 ½ x 11) or legal size (11 x 14) copies.  Each additional page is copied at 15 cents per page.  There may be an additional charge for documents provided in color, or in any size other than legal or letter size.  For color copies or abnormal size copies, the charge is the actual cost of copying.  For documents provided in electronic mediums, such as CD, disc, etc., the fee is the actual cost of purchasing the recording medium.  There is no charge for electronic documents sent via email.

 

What is considered a commercial purpose request?

Section 5 ILCS 140/2(c-10) of FOIA defines “commercial purpose” as the use of any part of a public record or records, or information derived from public records, in any form for sale, resale, or solicitation or advertisement for sales or services.  For purposes of this definition, requests made by news media and non-profit, scientific, or academic organizations shall not be considered to be made for a “commercial purpose” when the principal purpose of the request is (i) to access and disseminate information concerning news and current or passing events (ii) for articles of opinion or features of interest to the public, or (iii) for the purpose of academic, scientific, or public research or education.

Pursuant to 5 ILCS 140.3.1(c), it is a violation of the FOIA for a person to knowingly obtain a public record for a commercial purpose without disclosing that it is a for a commercial purpose, if it is requested to do so by the public body.

 

What records are maintained by the Chicago Park District?

A list of records maintained by the Park District can be found in the Record Classification List
Records listed may not be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Where do I go to fill out or drop off a FOIA request in person?

You can fill out or drop off a FOIA request in person at Chicago Park District headquarters located at 541 N. Fairbanks Court, Chicago, IL 60611, Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) from 8 AM to 5 PM.

 

How do I appeal a denial?

In the event of a denial, you may either file a lawsuit in court or file a Request for Review with the Attorney General's Public Access Counselor (PAC) at  

Public Access Bureau
500 S. 2nd Street
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 558-0486
publicaccess@atg.state.il.us

 

What records are available online?

Many documents are available on the Park District website.  You can review or download the following: