Two NW Side parks slated to get playlots
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
Demolition of the aging playlot at Merrimac Park, 6343 W. Irving Park Road, began last week, and work on the new playground is expected to be complete by the summer.
“It will be a huge improvement than anything that was there before,” Alderman Tim Cullerton (38th) said.
Cullerton said the old playground was more than 20 years old and that it had a limited number of swings, a slide and a water-spray feature. He said that many residents have complained about the condition of the playlot and that he worked to secure funding for construction of the new one.
Cullerton said that $615,000 from the West Irving Park Tax Increment Financing District will be used for work on the playground, as well as for the construction of new sidewalks and the installation of three new flagpoles at the Merrimac Park Veterans Memorial. He said that the installation of new lighting will allow flags to be displayed 24 hours a day.
Plans for the playground call for new swings, a water-spray feature, a concrete water tunnel, a shade structure with a picnic area, trees, a spinner, a landscape structure and slides.
“It won’t be as elaborate as the one in Portage Park, but it will be a good addition to the community,” Cullerton said.
The playlot at Portage Park, 4100 N. Long Ave., was constructed in 2011.
Meanwhile, Alderman Nicholas Sposato (36th) said that work on a new playlot at Shabbona Park, 6935 W. Addison St., likely will begin in April and that the playground should be open by the summer.
Sposato said that residents formed the Shabbona Park Playground Committee and later the Shabbona Park Advisory Council and that they have been raising funds for the new playground since 2011.
Park advisory council member Kimberly Kanasky said that the council was formed after residents began discussions about how to improve the existing playground and the park, which is more than 25 years old. Kanasky said that the Friends of the Parks and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Chicago of Children’s Memorial Hospital deemed the playground unsafe in 2011.
Kanasky said that the council raised about $9,000 for park improvements through fund-raising efforts such as sales, walkathons and dances.
Sposato said that he will use about $180,000 from the 36th Ward’s “aldermanic menu” fund and that about $330,000 will come from the state. He said that state Representative Luis Arroyo (D-3) helped secure the state funds.
“I’m thrilled about this,” Sposato said. “It’s not going to be my in ward (after redistricting takes effect), but I’m doing what I can to help the community.”
Kanasky said that preliminary playground plans are displayed in the park fieldhouse and that the plans are about 30 percent complete. “We wanted something more than just a sprinkler pole coming out from the ground, and they (the park district) said they would try to add a more elaborate water structure,” she said.