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Park District celebrates Earth Day, highlights Parks’ purpose to elevate city’s environmental sustainability, access and scientific research 

Yesterday, before the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, the District gave its first year report outlining a fully operational Office of Prevention and Accountability, the District’s newest office empowered to investigate and prevent misconduct. The Board also received an update on Lollapalooza and Sueños Festival scheduled to be held in Grant Park this Summer, demonstrating the District’s commitment to community engagement and vibrancy. Also, during the monthly meeting, held at McGuane Park, 2901 S. Poplar Avenue, the Board approved requests from the Museum of Science and Industry and the Art Institute of Chicago to change admission fees, in addition to a landscape and electrical supply contract. The District also gave a presentation acknowledging Earth Day and the importance of parks to the city environmental sustainability and scientific research. 

Today, the District delivered a presentation acknowledging the one-year anniversary of legislation passed, paving the way for new reporting structure within the organization and providing an update on the Office of Prevention and Accountability. 

Last April, the Park District Board approved amendments to Chapter IV of the Code giving Superintendent Escareño the authority to establish the Office Prevention and Accountability. The District’s first office of its kind, OPA is empowered to prevent misconduct and investigate complaints made by an employee or patron. Now fully staffed and operating, OPA is the cornerstone of the District’s work to create and maintain a safe and respectful environment for its employees and patrons. 

“Upon my arrival to the Chicago Park District in October 2021, creating a culture of transparency and accountability was mission one,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent & CEO Rosa Escareño. “Modernizing the District’s policies and implementing mandatory employee trainings, strengthening our relationships with organizations with expertise in workplace safety, hosting community town halls to gather valuable input from our patrons and employees, all to underscore and support the creation of this new office.”

Also today, the Board granted provisional approval for the Hyde Park Summer Festival to be permitted on park property later this year as required by code.  The District’s goal over the past year has been to implementing mandatory community engagement and provisional approval from the Board for all events with an expected attendance of 10,000 or more.  The District also delivered a presentation to the Board on Sueños Festival and Lollapalooza scheduled to take place in Grant Park, May 27th and 28th and August 3rd through August 6th, respectively. This year will mark the second year for Sueños and the 18th year that Lollapalooza will return to the park. 

“These events are part of Chicago’s vibrancy and enrich the city’s cultural landscape and boost its economy and support children and families by bringing $20 million in vital revenue into our parks annually,” said Superintendent Escareño. “We are committed to having input from our residents as part of our new process for large-scale multi-day events. Over the past year, we have updated our process and worked with our Board to put measures in place to engage the community and ensure our stakeholders are heard.”  

Board President Myetie Hamilton reinforced the commitment of our Board and Parks Administration to creating a process that supports improved transparency, inclusion and community engagement for large events taking place in our parks. “It’s vitally important that we see authentic community engagement from organizers.  The Board is looking for two-way communication with residents.”

As the world prepares to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, the Park District will host nearly 100 park clean-ups and beautification projects across the city in partnership with Friends of the Park. Thousands of volunteers, including park advisory councils, corporate and student groups will participate in cleaning, mulching and planting flowers and greenery in the parks. 

“Earth Day is every day at the Chicago Park District as our team cares for and grows green all year long. We are excited to host Earth Day events in our parks and encourage everyone to come out, roll up their sleeves and give back to our parks,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent & CEO Rosa Escareño.  “Although Earth Day is a one-day of observance, to protect our precious planet and natural environment, we must all make conscious decisions and work daily to ensure its health and vitality for the present and future generations.”  

As the keeper of nearly 9,000 acres of parkland including 2,000 acres natural areas, the Park District is the leading greening steward of the city. Throughout the year, the District is committed to implementing best practices that support parks but the environment. These efforts include planting 3000 trees annually, renewable fuel use and riverfront restoration that has transformed segment of Chicago’s river into viable recreation destinations and wildlife habitats. The Park District also works with more than 50 organizations to use parks as living laboratories for 65 projects and studies, advancing scientific research.   

The Board approved a contract with Christy Webber and Company for landscape maintenance services for Grant Park and the Museum Campus. The two-year contract will not exceed $2,294,924 for the initial term. Compliance for this contract is 25% MBE and 5% WBE, meeting the District’s requirements.  

The Board also approved a contract with J.P. Simons and Midco Electrical Supply, Inc. for light fixtures, fuses and other electrical supply needs. The one-year contract will not exceed $4,967,757.45 for the initial term. Compliance for this contract is 25% MBE and 5% WBE, meeting the District’s requirements.  

Representatives from the Museum of Science and Industry and the Art Institute gave presentations, seeking approval to change their visitor admission fees for non-city residents. The Board granted approval allowing both museums to implement the requested changes. Museum of Science and Industry and Art Institute are part of Museums in the Park (MIP), a non-profit coalition of 11 cultural institutions on Chicago Park District property.