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Park District and Board celebrate the Chicago Wheelchair Softball Club’s National Title Win     

Today, during its monthly meeting, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners heard a presentation on the proposed 2023 budget and voted in favor of Code changes that will increase transparency and community engagement for large scale events permitted on park property. Other agenda items include the approval of contracts to design new fieldhouses and other improvements at Moran Park located in the Englewood community and Jackie Robinson Park, located in the Washington Heights community. Also at the meeting held at Columbus Park, 500 S. Central Avenue in the Austin community, the Park District and Board celebrated the Chicago Wheelchair Softball Club’s National Division II title win.

Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño presented the 2023 budget recommendations to the Board. The $545.9 million budget is a fiscally responsible plan that places the current and future needs of the District’s patrons and its workforce first. A 6.7% increase from the previous year, the 2023 proposed budget addresses rising operating costs, investments in local parks and the District’s workforce. Highlights of the balanced Operating Budget include the expansion of youth programs and growth of thriving programs, investment in aging water infrastructure, nature areas and other capital projects that better equip the District to meet the public’s needs. The Park District Board of Commissioners will vote on the 2023 budget recommendations during its regular monthly meeting on December 14th.  

The Chicago Park District’s 2023 budget recommendations can be viewed online at here.
Keeping with the District’s commitment to prioritize park investment in communities in need, the Board approved authorization for the District to enter into agreements to build new fieldhouses and other improvements at two Southside parks. 

The District will contract with Woodhouse Tinucci Architects to design a new fieldhouse and water spray feature at Moran Park, 5727 S. Racine Avenue in the Englewood community. The scope of work includes Minority and women-owned participation for the contract includes 32.72% MBE and 14.98% WBE exceeding the District’s goals. 

The Board authorized the District to enter into an agreement with Booth Hansen Architects to design the new fieldhouse at Jackson Robinson Park, 10540 S. Morgan Street in the Washington Heights community. The Minority- and Women-Owned participation for this contract include 30.4% Minority-Owned and 8.0% Women-Owned exceeding the District’s goals.

“Making thoughtful investment in parks has a direct correlation and contribution to a greater quality of life for a community and the families who live there,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. The Board’s approval on these contracts allow us to move forward on two projects that are vital to their respective communities. Once designed and built, these new fieldhouses will expand and support opportunities for residents in Englewood and Washington Heights.” 

Today, the Park District Board’s voted unanimously to approve changes to Chapter VII of the Chicago Park District Code now requires the Board to give provisional approval for permitted events with an attendance of 10,000 or more before a permit can be issued. Community residents, businesses and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide input prior to Board consideration. This change provides an added layer of transparency at the Board of Commissioners’ level to the District’s procedural permit process for large events. During its regular meeting in September, the Board heard proposed changes to Chapter VII of the Code and a 45-day public comment period was initiated.

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 planned event operations. As part of their community engagement, organizers are also encouraged to bring benefits to the community by hiring local residents and securing local vendors. This is consistent with actions by event organizers that already provide financial support to local parks and schools, organize park clean ups, hosted holiday food and toy drives and contribute 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. The newly adopted changes to the Code will require these new procedural steps to be applied to permit applications received for events taking place in 2023.

The Board also authorized the District to participate in the Cook County’s contract with Clarity Partners, LLC, a certified MBE contractor, to host, maintain and support the District’s website and mobile application. Since 2012, Clarity has provided services for the Chicago Park District  website, and the CPD “My Chi Parks” mobile app. Most recently, Clarity has provided these services to the Park District as part of a cooperative purchasing arrangement with Cook County and was approved by the CPD Board of Commissioners in 2017. The pricing achieved under cooperative purchasing with Cook County is more favorable than what CPD would have received if it advertised under its own solicitation for these services.

Today, the Board acknowledged the achievements of the Chicago Wheelchair Softball Club’s National Division II title win. The team, which won the Wheelchair Softball World Series back in August, is largely comprised of gun violence survivors. The program gives athletes the opportunity to be active and compete in a healthy and productive manner. In addition, players develop a camaraderie with their teammates and the city’s broader wheelchair softball community. 

Also today, the Board proposed 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 proposed amendments include streamlining of lower cost purchases.  

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

The Board’s approval initiates a 45-day public comment period during which residents, vendors and other stakeholders can provide feedback prior to the Board vote.