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

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Chicago Proposes “Congestion Fee” On Parking to Fund Transit

|
In last winter’s Chicago mayoral election, all the leading candidates made ambitious promises to increase funding for the city’s struggling transit agency. Now, with a proposed $2 “congestion fee” — really a downtown surcharge on the city’s parking tax — Emanuel plans to make drivers pay their fair share and use the proceeds to build […]

Chicago: A City Whose Mayor Cares About Bicycling

|
November’s Governing Magazine has a great story on how big cities across the U.S. are gearing up to make themselves more bike-friendly. There is no mention of New York City, but check out what Chicago is doing and how they are doing it: In the next decade, it plans to expand its network of bike […]

Chicago Loses NYC’s Congestion Pricing Money

|
Will Chicago get a second chance at federal funds for better bus service? Photo: celikins/Flickr Looks like New York legislators aren’t the only ones willing to pass up big money for transportation improvements if it means putting a fair price on private auto use. Back in April, the feds withdrew a $354 million grant to […]

The Streetsies

|
All in all it was a great year for New York City’s Livable Streets Movement. Here are the winners of our 2007 awards. See you in January… Best Livable Streets Project: The Ninth Avenue bike lane, Chelsea. Best New Public Space: DUMBO’s Pearl Street Pocket Park. Honorable mention: Chelsea’s Meat Market Plaza. Best Pedestrian Project: […]

Chicago-Style Parking Plan Could Raise $5 Billion Plus for NYC

|
According to a senior municipal bond analyst at a leading Wall Street firm, New York City could raise between five and six billion dollars immediately if it privatized its parking meters as Chicago is doing. Whether privatization is the right way to unlock New York City's parking riches is debatable. What's not in question is that curbside parking in New York and most U.S. cities is grossly underpriced and could potentially be a crucial source of revenue for much needed transportation improvements.