Changes, improvements announced for area parks
January 7, 2011

By Marie Balice Ward

Officials recently announced several changes and improvements at local parks.

Mary Bartelme Park, West Loop—This recently developed park at Adams and Sangamon Streets has been named for Mary Bartelme (1866-1954), one of Illinois’ first female lawyers, who in 1923 became the state’s first female judge (and the country’s second).

Born near Halsted and Fulton Streets, Bartelme earned her degree from Northwestern University’s Law School in 1894 as the only woman in her class. She fought for women’s suffrage and was appointed Cook County’s first female public guardian. She also helped draft and lobbied for legislation creating the county’s first juvenile court in 1899, and she founded three group homes for delinquent girls as an alternative to prison.

Second Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti proposed naming the park for Bartelme, and the Chicago Park District approved it after consulting several community groups that expressed support, explained Leslie Recht, schools and parks liaison for Fioretti. The park district will install a plaque about Bartelme at a date yet to be determined.

Henry Palmisano Park, Bridgeport—The park district dedicated Stearns Quarry Park, 2700 S. Halsted St., in honor of the late Henry Palmisano, former owner of Henry’s Marine in Bridgeport. Palmisano created many fishing opportunities throughout Chicago and became a benefactor for Bridgeport Catholic Academy, which has named a scholarship in his honor.

The park features a fishing pond, wetlands, preserved quarry walls, trails, an athletic field, a running track, and a sledding hill. It cost about $12.5 million to create and was designed to meet all age groups’ recreational needs.

Fred Kramer Memorial Garden, South Loop—The Alliance for a Greener South Loop (AGSL) and its partners, Center for Neighborhood Technology, NeighborSpace, Draper + Kramer, the 2nd Ward Alderman’s office, Columbia College, Grace Place, the Greater South Loop Association, South Loop Neighbors, and Clarence David Landscaping Company, have helped create the Fred Kramer Memorial Garden at approximately 65 W. Polk St., immediately west of Dearborn Station.

The site features a rain garden and pedestrian paths. Said Gail Merritt of the AGSL, ”A rain garden is planted with deep-rooted native plants in order to have the rain that falls in the garden stay in the garden.”

This approach helps the community in times of heavy rain by reducing water flow to storm sewers. A major downpour can overload the sewer system and cause its runoff to flow into the Chicago River, Merritt explained. The South Loop is a major contributor to storm water runoff in the city.

“Fred Kramer was the visionary behind the planning and construction of Dearborn Park,” Merritt said. He was a real estate pioneer who believed in affordable housing in desirable neighborhoods. Dearborn Park was just one of the projects he undertook to help create racially integrated and stable communities.”

Also, Kramer’s “love and devotion to bulldogs” helped make Dearborn Park a dog-friendly community, Merritt said.

The park district will install a plaque honoring Kramer at a later date. For more information, log on to www.greenersouthloop.com.

Sixteenth Street and Wabash Park, South Loop/Near South—Several community groups are reviewing conceptual plans for a new park near 16th Street and Wabash Avenue. The design will include a dog-friendly area; the park also will accommodate residents without dogs.

Sixteenth Street and Indiana Avenue Park, South Loop/Near South—The Prairie Pointe Condominium Association and United Maintenance hope to develop a site at 16th Street and Indiana Avenue into a landscaped park with a fountain, benches, lighting, and a parking lot.

United Maintenance will use the 64-by-120-foot parking area and plans to convey the property to the Chicago Park District under a 99-year lease and to develop and maintain the park. The parking lot could have up to 26 parking spaces and would front on Indiana Avenue.

Workers will use stone pavers to create the pavilion-style lot, where United’s tenants will park weekdays during business hours. At other times, it would be available to area residents.