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Park District and Board honored 85 recent retirees for the years of service to the parks and citizens of Chicago.

Today, during its first monthly meeting of the year, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners authorized the District to enter into agreements to renovate three of the District’s cultural centers and provide broadband internet service to remote park facilities. Also during the meeting held at Fosco Park, located 1312 S. Racine in the New City community, the Board District also honored recent retirees for their years of service to the Chicago Park District. 

Today the Board approved a contract with F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen and Associates, LLC for facility improvements to cultural centers at Austin Town Hall, 5610 W. Lake Street in the Austin community, Humboldt Park, 1400 N. Sacramento in the Humboldt Park community and Douglass Park in the Lawndale community. These designated spaces within park fieldhouses are community-based hubs for cultural programming. Renovations, including the installation of ADA platform lifts, new theater lighting, acoustic panels and upgraded audio/visual equipment, will improve and expand access to vital programs like theater, dance and other cultural opportunities. This is the first phase of the District’s plan to renovate all of its nine designated cultural centers. Participation for this contract is 25% MBE and 5% WBE, meeting the District’s goals.

“Park cultural centers provide residents with unique opportunities to access and engage in arts -focused programming and events, “ said Chicago Park District General Superintendent & CEO Rosa Escareño. “The demand for community-based arts and cultural resources is growing and in order to deliver high-quality experiences that children and families expect, it’s important that we make these important investments.”   

“Investing in these critical renovations and expanding programing for the Austin, Douglass Park and Humboldt Park communities should be the standard for providing the resources they deserve”, said Board President Myetie Hamilton. “I applaud the work of our Park District team for making this a reality.”

The Board also authorized the District to enter into a contract with Windstream Holdings, Incorporated to provide broadband internet access services to remote Park District facilities. This investment network infrastructure will improve connectivity to email, shared files and internet access including the District’s program registration database and other applications.

Representatives from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Field Museum gave presentations, seeking approval to increase visitor admission fees for Chicago residents, non-city residents and out of state visitors. After much consideration and dialogue on the impact that proposed fee increases will have on Chicago families, the Board approved both requests and asked each museum for additional reporting measures. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and Field Museum are part of Museums in the Park (MIP), a non-profit coalition of 11 cultural institutions on Chicago Park District property. 

In addition to attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, these museums serve as an extension of the city’s educational system by offering a multitude of learning experiences to city school students, park program participants and members of Chicago’s civic organizations. As MIP institutions, museums are required to get Board approval to increase admission fees and they must offer admission free days throughout the year per their agreement with the Park District.  

Also today, the Board approved changes to Chapter XI of the Park District Code that would update processes and authority related to the purchasing of goods and services given to the Director of Purchasing, the General Superintendent, and the Board. The approved amendments, which support the streamlining of lower cost purchases and other efficiencies, were proposed last November followed by a 45-day public comment period. 

“These proposed changes are critical and will strengthen board governance, increase transparency, and help to modernize our processes” said Chicago Park District Board President Myetie Hamilton. 

Today, the Board also acknowledged 85 recent Chicago Park District retirees for their years of service to the District and the residents of Chicago. Each retiree was presented with a resolution  thanking them for their contribution to the city’s world-class park system and well wishes on their retirement.