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Park District and Board celebrate Black History Month, highlighting special events and acknowledging the accomplishments and contributions made by African Americans 

Today, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners approved measures that build on the financial strength of District’s and bring investment to neighborhoods parks. This includes this year’s first provisional approvals for the Bank of Chicago Shamrock Shuffle, Fifth Third Bike The Drive and the Hot Chocolate Run Chicago scheduled to take place on park property later this year. These and other permitted events, provide an array of athletic, recreational and cultural opportunities to Chicago and are vital economic drivers, generating more than $20 million in revenue for parks annually. 

“Park permitted events activate our park spaces, enliven our city’s neighborhoods and support recreation aspirations of residents, families and visitors while generating revenue that keeps park programs and services affordable,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. “We thank the Board for their consideration and provisional approval for these events and we look forward to working with them to continue this public process.”

The Park District’s Code requires provisional Board approval for permitted events with 10,000 or more attendees.  Last year, the Park District announced the launch of the Park Enhancement Fund, created to allocate a percentage of revenue from multi-day, permitted events and reinvest it directly into the park that hosted the event. 

The Board also authorized an ordinance permitting the Park District to tender outstanding General Obligation Tax Refunding bonds to existing bondholders. If accepted, the Park District may realize debt service savings. This move underscores the Park District commitment to seek unique ways to reduce one of its largest budgetary expenses that support parks and families. 

The Board authorized the reimbursement of general obligation bond proceeds to fund the District 2024 Capital program. The authorization permits the Park District to recapture funds paid for the costs of the projects and expenses in an amount not to exceed $33 million. Additionally, the Board authorized the Park District to issue General Obligation Bonds to finance $10 million in ADA improvements at park fieldhouses throughout the District. Other capital investments to be included are Chicago Splash! spray feature renovations, riverbank restoration projects at Legion Park, River Park and Ronan Park, major field house restorations including cultural center improvements at Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, Douglass Park, and Austin Town Hall Park; a new artificial turf baseball diamond at Burnham Park in partnership with Kenwood High School.

The Montrose Dunes Expansion Area in Lincoln Park is officially named the Monty and Rose Wildlife Habitat. The Board approved the renaming, which honors the first Piping Plovers chicks to fledge at Montrose Beach in 71 years. Arriving in 2019, Monty and Rose were the first two Piping Plover chicks to fledge in Chicago and Cook County in 71 years.  They captured the hearts of people across Chicago, our nation, and across the globe.  Their story was portrayed in scores of local and national newspaper articles.  Monty and Rose went on to fledge their own chicks in 2020 and 2021. Sadly, both Monty and Rose passed away in 2022, but thanks to their presence at Montrose, scores of people were introduced to the joys of birding and the importance of bird and habitat conservation. Over the past decade, the Chicago Park District’s has made great progress in growing the footprint of its natural areas and habitats which support a variety of species, making our neighborhoods and city wildlife destinations.
Also today, the Board voted unanimously to rename Park 581, located at 11625 S. Oakley in the Morgan Park community, The Prairie Park. For decades, community residents fondly referred to the 8.74 parcel as “The Prairie”. The proposed name change was presented to the Board at the December 13th meeting, initiating the required 45-day public comment period. The new name is supported by residents and community stakeholders. 

The District and the Board celebrated Black History Month by highlighting events happening in parks throughout the month. During a presentation, the District also brought attention to Chicago parks named in honor of African Americans and the accomplishments and contributions each made to the world.