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District celebrates the achievements of Special Olympics 2022 Spring Games athletes     

Today, during its monthly meeting, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners heard a presentation on large scale events permitted on park property and considered a proposed Code change that will provide an opportunity to increase transparency and public input and revise the Board’s approval process. The Board also approved supplemental funding to support neighborhood park investments. Other agenda items include a contract award to renovate Ridge Park Fieldhouse and a contract for supply and delivery of sand and gravel. Also at the meeting held at Fosco Park, 1312 S. Racine Avenue in the Near West community, the Park District and the Board acknowledged the Special Olympics program and celebrated the participants of the 2022 Spring Games.

The District delivered a presentation on large scale events permitted on park property, highlighting the cultural and economic benefits to parks and the city as a whole. These events activate park spaces and elevate cultural opportunities for residents and visitors. In addition, large-scale events bring vital revenue that support parks and park programs and directly benefit Chicago’s children and families. 

Earlier this year, the Park District implemented new policies that require organizers of large events to submit and employ a community engagement plan to keep neighboring residents, businesses and other stakeholders abreast of event operations. As part of their community engagement, organizers are also required to bring economic investment to the community by hiring local residents and securing local vendors. Since, organizers have provided financial support to local parks and schools, organized park clean ups, hosted holiday food and toy drives and contributed to park capital improvements.

This year, the District will collect a projected $20 million in permit fees that directly support parks. These funds are instrumental in meeting the demand for capital investment and quality programs while maintaining affordable fees that so many families depend on. 

During the presentation, the Board reviewed proposed changes to Chapter VII of the Chicago Park District Code to increase community input require Board’s approval to permit events with attendance of 10000 or more.  These changes will be posted for 45 days for public input. 

“As General Superintendent and CEO of the Park District, I am committed to increasing transparency and community engagement and enhancing the process used to permit large festivals in our parks,” said Escareño. “Since my arrival, we’ve taken steps to require more from large event organizers and gather vital input from community stakeholders.  The proposed changes to the Code will allow new procedural steps will be applied to permit applications received for events in 2023”

Pursuant to the Chicago Park District Code, the Board approved the allocation of a one-time $61.4 million payment from the State consisting of Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (PPRT).  The District will use these funds to pay down debt associated with the construction of the new neighborhood park and CPD headquarters in Brighton Park, make a supplemental payment to the District’s retirement fund and make $20 million in capital investments at parks across the city. The District receives a share of the Personal Property Replacement Tax that is collected by the State and remitted to local governments.  

“These supplemental funds create a unique opportunity to further strengthen the Park District’s fiscal health and deliver much needed capital investment to parks,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. “We are extremely grateful to be able to leverage these funds to prioritize the needs of children, families and communities of Chicago.”

The Board approved authorization for the District to enter into an agreement with George Sollitt Construction for renovations to the fieldhouse at Ridge Park, 9625 S. Longwood Drive in the Beverly community. Improvements include the construction of a new interior ramp and installation of a new three-stop elevator to improve accessibility to all three floors of the fieldhouse.
Additional improvements to the 1913 fieldhouse will include a new chair lift at the auditorium stage, a new all gender washroom, auditorium control room and stage extension, improved stage and auditorium lighting, new gymnasium bleacher seating, drinking fountains and an updated electrical system.  The existing reception desk will also be modified to provide an accessible service counter, new lighting and other finishes. The minority and women owned business participation for this contract includes 25% MBE and 5% WBE.

The Board also authorized the District enter into an agreement with KLF Enterprises, Inc. for the supply and delivery of sand, gravel and related materials used to maintain nearly 9000 acres of parkland and approximately 75 miles of walking, running and bike paths. The minority and women owned business participation for this contract also includes 25% MBE and 5% WBE.

The Board also a heard presentation highlighting the District’s Special Olympics program and celebrating the athletic achievements of the 2022 athletes. In June, the Chicago Park District sent 11 Special Olympics athletes and one coach to participate in the USA Games in Orlando, Florida. Team Illinois representatives hailed from six parks and competed in events. Each athlete earned at least one medal in their respective event and the flag football team came home with the Gold.

The Chicago Park District has a proud history of providing recreational opportunities for residents with special needs. In 1965, the District offered its first community based, Special Recreation program at West Pullman Park and subsequently expanded to create similar programs at other parks across the city. The first Spring Games were held at Soldier Field in 1968 giving individuals with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to compete in athletic games. What began as a small track and field meet evolved into a global movement celebrating more than five million athletes across 172 countries.