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Today, the Chicago Park District held its first in-person Board Meeting in two years, welcoming long time public servant and former Chicago Public Library Commissioner Andrea Telli to the Board of Commissioners in the first meeting chaired by new President Myetie Hamilton. During the meeting, which was held at Jane Addams Park, 1434 S. Loomis St., the Board also voted to approve the contract for design phase services for the much-anticipated DuSable Park, located at 401 N. Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Dr. This approval launches an extensive community process, including public meetings to seek input on design and amenities for the park named in honor of Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, the first non-native American settler and founder of Chicago. 

“On behalf of the Board, I am thrilled to return to in-person meetings and welcome Commissioner Telli to our Board,” said Board President Myetie Hamilton. “I look forward to working with Commissioner Telli and the entire Board to implement measures that improve our parks and uplift the families and communities we serve. A strong governing Board is especially vital as the District continues to make necessary transitional changes within our organization and return to normal delivery of programs and capital investment that were delayed due to the pandemic.”  

Telli is a dedicated public servant with 30 years of experience leading library and branch operations. In her most recent role as Commissioner of Chicago Public Library, she oversaw one of the largest library systems in the country, with 81 branches in neighborhoods throughout the city. As a lifelong Chicagoan, Andrea continues to contribute to her city and her profession through consulting, advocacy and active participation in the improvement of libraries and municipal agencies nationally. 

“I’m excited for the opportunity to serve the residents of Chicago in this new capacity and help start a new chapter for the Park District,” said Commissioner Andrea Telli. “Just like libraries, parks are a vital resource for kids and families in every neighborhood, and I know that strong parks enhance the health of our city. As a lifelong Chicagoan, parks have been an important presence in my life – as a child, I spent many days on the swings and ball fields at Rutherford Sayre Park and now I enjoy walking our dog Rocco through the park. I’ve come full circle and look forward to giving back to our city parks, which have given so much to me.”  

During the meeting, the Board of Commissioners also approved the awarding of the DuSable Park design contract to DuSable Park Design Alliance, a Chicago-based joint venture between Brook Architecture, a City of Chicago certified minority business enterprise (MBE), and Ross Barney Architecture, a City of Chicago certified women business enterprise (WBE). The contractor was selected through a publicly advertised Request for Proposals through a target market search, which only solicits proposals from certified MBE and WBE firms, underscoring the District’s commitment to awarding opportunities to qualified minority and women owned firms. Pursuant to their agreement, DuSable Park Design Alliance will prepare fifty percent of the construction documents for DuSable Park based on the recommendations of the 2006 DuSable Park Framework Plan.

“With the upcoming design of DuSable Park, we have the opportunity to honor the under-appreciated founder of Chicago while establishing a new prominent destination on Chicago’s public lakefront,” said Rosa Escareño, Interim General Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District. “I am thrilled that this design process is moving forward and I look forward to working closely with the community to ensure that this park properly honors the legacy of DuSable while serving our residents for years to come.”

DuSable Park is a 3.44-acre park located east of Lake Shore Drive at the confluence of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. The site was established as a park as part of the Chicago Dock and Canal Trust Planned Development, and in 1987 Mayor Harold Washington dedicated and named the site in honor of DuSable. In 1988, DuSable Park was deeded to the Park District. While undeveloped, the park is positioned as both a critical piece of Chicago's public lakefront and the endcap to Chicago’s Riverwalk. 

In honor of Women’s History month, representatives from the District’s Community Recreation Department shared a presentation at today’s Board Meeting on the Girls P.L.A.Y. Initiative, a new program launched in 2018 to encourage girls to engage in sports and other physical activities and combat social and cultural barriers that commonly prevent them from participating. Programming also includes activities that help instill self-esteem, leadership skills and healthy living. Now in its fourth year, the Girls P.L.A.Y. Initiative has grown to serve more than 1,000 girls each year. Through these opportunities, the District hopes to help cultivate the next generation of women leaders. 

Interim General Superintendent & CEO Escareño also delivered a presentation at today’s meeting highlighting parks and park features named in honor of women. To date, the District has 71 parks named in honor of women who have blazed trails leading to positive change in their communities and our city. To learn more about these women and their contributions, visit the Chicago Park District’s YouTube channel. 
The Chicago Park District continues to urge the public to weigh in on the proposed changes to the District’s code that will allow the launch of the Office Prevention and Accountability. This Office, the first-of-its-kind at the Park District, will be empowered to prevent misconduct and hold wrongdoers accountable through fair, independent and thorough investigations into allegations of misconduct. The proposed Code Amendments are available for public comment on the Park District’s Website.