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4/13/04 No public input

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4/13/04: Still No Public Input Allowed on Meigs Park

Despite the continuing lack of public input into the future of Meigs Field, the Chicago Park District is moving forward with a "minimalist" park at Meigs, planned to open as early as July, 2004.  The "park" will be little more than grass, and a few sidewalks.

Representatives of the Friends of Meigs Field and the Committee for a Better Chicago attempted to give public comment during the committee meetings of the Chicago Park District board on April 13, 2004, but were told that--because Meigs was not on the agenda--their comments were not welcome.

Some comments were submitted instead under the agenda item for raising fees at the public museums, emphasizing that the Friends of Meigs' Parks and Planes plan would provide funds that could eliminate the need for fee increases.

The Park District board, true to past form, ignored the comments and voted to increase the fees.

Chicago Tribune story:

Crews set to start job of making Meigs park ; Preliminary work until funds arrive:[Chicago Final Edition]
Liam Ford, Tribune staff reporter
Chicago Tribune
, Chicago, Ill.: Apr 13, 2004.  
 

Crews this week will begin transforming the former home of Meigs Field into a park expected to open this summer, a Chicago Park District spokesman said Monday.

A private contractor will begin laying out paths and landscaping the 91-acre Northerly Island site so it can be used as a bare-bones lakefront park starting in mid-July, said Julian Green, a parks spokesman.

Crews will begin "staking pathways, and they're going to be at least identifying paths for asphalt so that we can put down sidewalks, and planting prairie grass seed and small trees," Green said.

The district held special events such as a fishing derby at Northerly Island last year and will continue to do so this year, Green said.

Officials expect to begin work later this spring on a final plan for the peninsula near the southeast end of Grant Park where Meigs Field operated until Mayor Richard Daley ordered it closed last year.

A proposal developed in 1996, as the Aviation Department's original 50-year lease for the Park District land ran out, may serve as a touchstone for the final plan, to be put in place when funding is available to the cash-strapped district.

Daley closed the Meigs Field runways without warning in late March of last year, and after they were removed last fall, contractors laid down sod on the site.

Later this spring, the Park District will begin its search for a firm to work with South Loop residents on planning the park, Green said.

The head of a parks advocacy group is enthusiastic.

"It converts the island to a usable space," said Erma Tranter, president of Friends of the Parks. "I think people will begin to get out there and use it."

A mid-July opening would coincide with the planned opening of the $370 million Millennium Park near the northeast end of Grant Park.

 

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