Group seeks input from residents on park plans


by BRIAN NADIG

The Jefferson Park Advisory Council is asking residents to take an online survey as part of its efforts to create a 5-year improvement plan for the park, 4822 N. Long Ave.

The council presented its proposed "vision" plan, which calls for an enlarged playlot, year-round swimming, a band shell, a dog run and a concessions stand, at its Nov. 13 meeting. The council plans to use the survey results and other comments to revise its proposal before a plan is in place by April 1.

Council president Lionel Rabb said last week that initial talks about the plan with the Chicago Park District have gone well. The council, which has generated thousands of dollars in corporate and private donations to pay for outdoor festivals at the park, plans to raise several million dollars to pay for the improvements and to have construction completed within 5 years.

While the proposal received a warm reception from the 10 audience members, one woman expressed concern about the proposed move of the tennis courts from the southeast corner of the park to the northwest corner. The woman said that the park’s existing courts are in good shape but that recently constructed Chicago Park District courts have been plagued with problems.

Another resident said that a planned picnic grove with outdoor grills along Higgins Avenue could create noise disturbances for those living near the park. "If you have a lot of people coming, it becomes a little overwhelming," she said.
To help block light and sound form the park, additional trees would be planted along the perimeter and across from the park, Rabb said.

Council members also discussed the proposal to eliminate one of the park’s two baseball/softball diamonds. Having one diamond which meets Little League standards would allow for a seating area in front of the planned band shell that would be built in the southwest corner of the park, according to the council.

To get recommendations on which amenities the community would like in each section of the park, the council is asking residents to complete a survey which is posted at www.jmpac.org. Copies of the survey, which includes space for write-in suggestions, also are available at fieldhouse.

The possible amenities listed on the survey include bocce ball and shuffleboard courts, outdoor chess boards, a horseshoe pit, a temporary ice rink, a band shell with a stage and a sound system, an inflatable enclosure for the pool during the winter and a toddler pool. The survey also lists 16 amenities for a new playlot, such as having a pirate ship, tree house or other theme.

Survey respondents also are being asked if they would prefer the city Bureau of Forestry facility near the northwest corner of the park to be replaced by a fitness center, a dog run, an arts building or a concessions pavilion. "We’ve heard unofficially that they’re closing it," Rabb said of the forestry building.

Also at the meeting, it was announced that the council has been exploring options for the installation of an ice rink at the park this winter but that no plans have been approved.

The council will hold a holiday festival with sleigh rides and decoration making from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. Free photos with Santa will be available, but registration at www.jmpac.org is required.


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