In Chicago, Parks Funded By Parking Garages

Mayor Richard Daley has been aggressive in transforming Chicago into a more livable city, cracking down on sociopathic motorists, encouraging traffic-calming, promoting bicycling and paying attention to the nitty gritty environmental impacts of street design. The Chicago Tribune recently reported on the Mayor’s latest effort to fund citywide park-improvements projects using revenues from city-owned parking garages:

haaspark.jpg Money from leasing four publicly owned downtown parking garages will provide financing for about 100 neighborhood park-improvement projects, from new fieldhouses at five parks to new playgrounds at 50 others, Mayor Richard Daley announced Thursday. The $122 million for the projects also will help pay for what were described as major renovations for existing park facilities such as the South Shore Cultural Center, the Broadway Armory and Garfield Park’s historic golden-domed fieldhouse.

"It certainly is the largest amount of capital dollars in one sum that I remember seeing in the last 20 years," said Erma Tranter, president of Friends of the Parks. "This is a unique opportunity to do some major facility construction in neighborhoods of need."

In some cases, money from the parking deal is being combined with state and federal funds and private contributions to get projects off the drawing board, officials said. About $3.5 million from the garage deal "will end up generating a total of over $8.5 million to give the people of this community the kind of park they want and deserve," Daley said. "And that’s what we intend to do across the city."

Photo of Haas Park in Chicago, Stephanie Says/Flickr

  • chicago

    I hate to burst your bubble, but as a resident of Chicago I have to tell you that Mayor Daley is asleep at the wheel when it comes to creating livable streets. He is all talk and little action at this point. Our transit system is about to implement major service cuts because he hasn’t won the support of the state legislature for sustainable funding, parking requirements keep getting raised, traffic enforcement agents regularly prioritize drivers over pedestrians, crosswalks are being taken out to “improve the flow of traffic,” and those pedestrian countdown signals are being installed to ensure that pedstrians know that they only have a few seconds on the street before it’s returned to their rightful owners: the drivers.

    That parking garage money should be going to widening sidewalks, restoring crosswalks, upgrading our delapidated train stations, adding real bike lanes, etc.

    The walking environment here is a joke because there’s no one smart or thoughtful enough in the city administration to even realize that there’s a problem. Meanwhile the aldermen wield complete control over the neighborhood streets, and are slowly but surely nibbling away at the sidewalks by adding curb cuts and parking lots.

    Publicizing this non-article is the same as streetsblog hyping an NYC DOT announcement that it’s put up Yield to Pedestrian signs on streets in which pedestrians are regularly being killed.

  • Thanks for the perspective, Chicago.

  • Ron in Chicago

    Our mayor is certainly not perfect. But I think that we have become spoiled by all the good things that he has achieved. Perhaps ‘Comment by chicago — July 16, 2007 @ 2:37 pm” might be a little more appreciative if he tried to ride a bike in London, drive crosstown in Manhattan or look for parking in your city. Chicago has become a terrifically improved city for the urbanite over the past 20 years. Ambience, parks, bike lanes and green roofs all testify to what he has achieved.

    We used to have a scary airport close to the city, on the lakefront. Now we have a brand new prairie-park and a beach and a new small stadium. And the list goes on and on.

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