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Park District and Board appoints President Hamilton to Public Building Commission Board & recognizes the Harvest Garden program which enhances communities and teaches youth lessons in urban agriculture

Today, during its regular monthly meeting, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners authorized various motions to support vital park operations and investments, including a complete reconstruction of the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden at the Garfield Park Conservatory, in the East Garfield Park community. The project, awarded to local construction firm, F.H. Paschen, includes new planting beds, a new indoor playground, family restrooms and a wheelchair accessible, spiral ramp that leads to the top of the Conservatory’s historic glass roof. These improvements will create an immersive, experience, where children can discover and engage in nature. 
“This project exemplifies the positive impact of public-private collaboration,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent Rosa Escareño. “We are extremely grateful to the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance for raising the funds to realize this incredible project and for their ongoing work to support programming and events and provide experiences that not only highlight this historic gem but also enhance the experience of the thousands of visitors that enter the Conservatories doors annually. “
Funding for $8,581,000.00 project includes $4.5 million in private grants and donations, $2 million in TIF, $1.75 million in state grants, $1.5 million in Park District contribution. The contract exceeds the Park District’s compliance goals with 26% MBE and 6% WBE participation. 
Committed to ensuring the District has a diverse and experienced pool of contractors to address capital projects as needed, the Board authorized the District to enter into agreements with 16  contractors in the pre-qualified pools for rapid  response construction. Projects completed under this pool could include roofing, masonry, electrical, plumbing, architectural finishes, playground improvements and ADA compliance upgrades. This process expands potential opportunities for first time participants to the pre-qualified pool. Of the 16 contractors included in this pool, four are first time participants and five a certified MBE’s. 
In advance of the upcoming outdoor ice rink season, the Board authorized the contract with Westrec SMI LLC for the management and operation of the five ice skating rinks located in parks across the city. These amenities are popular destinations for outdoor recreation, from late November through the end of February. Responsibilities include daily management during operating season, resurfacing the ice, maintaining the refrigeration and all other equipment, developing and managing rink schedules including rentals, marketing the rinks for skating lessons and hockey, maintaining and renting skates, and custodial services. In addition to open skate, the District also hosts programming and special events at each location. The contract meets the Park District’s compliance goals with 25% MBE and 5% WBE participation. 
The Board also voted to appoint President Myetie Hamilton to the Public Building Commission of Chicago Board for a term of five years.  
In a presentation to the Board, the Park District’s Department of Natural Resources highlighted the Harvest Garden program which operates 21 community-based food gardens and programming in parks across the city, including five new gardens launched this year to increase opportunities on the city’s south and west sides. The program introduces Chicago youth to three seasons of urban agriculture, from prepping the soil for planting to harvest. Crops include varieties of lettuce, root vegetables, tomatoes, onions and herbs. The benefits of community gardens reach beyond agriculture and expanding the availability of fresh food. These spaces also beautify the surrounding areas, promote healthy lifestyles and civic engagement.   
Other agenda include the approval of three ordinances for bonds issuances totaling $196 million for investments in District’s land acquisition, park and harbor system investment and refunding debt obligations.