Altgeld, Claremont Parks improved
January 3, 2013
Erma Tranter of Friends of the Parks directs volunteers, who came out to lend a hand on construction of a new playground. Young and old picked up litter, installed swings and slides, and readied the flower beds for new plants. (Photo by Margaret Heinzeroth)

The grand opening of Altgeld Park’s renovated field late in 2012 drew numerous visitors including representatives from Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC); Mayor Rahm Emanuel; dozens of young athletes and their coaches; and partners from the Chicago Park District, the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, and Chicago Hope Academy.

With the help of a $200,000 grant from LISC and spearheaded by the Park District’s “Take the Field” initiative, the field at Altgeld Park in the 500 block of south Washtenaw Avenue underwent a complete renovation, with an artificial turf surface and new lighting.

Designed to accommodate football, soccer, rugby, Little League baseball, and softball, the new field allows for nearly year-round play and is expected to lower maintenance costs.

“There is nothing more important than investing in our kids,”
said Emanuel. The Altgeld Field renovation is part of LISC’s ongoing efforts to improve and expand green space and athletic opportunities for Chicago youth. Since 1998, a partnership between LISC and the National Football League Grassroots Program (supported locally through the Chicago Bears) has provided $1.5 million, which has leveraged another $11.2 million to renovate ten Chicago area football fields, often in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools or the Chicago Park District.

“Engaging kids and families through sports brings neighborhoods together, which in turn can serve to reduce crime,” said Susana Vasquez, LISC Chicago’s executive director. “New fields, parks, and sports teams give all residents something to cheer for.” For information, call (312) 422-9556.

Also, community residents and volunteers came together to help build a new children’s playground in Claremont Park at 2334 W. Flournoy St. The event was held in partnership with Alderman Robert Fioretti, Alderman Daniel Solis, Friends of the Parks, the Chicago Park District, the Claremont Park Advisory Council, Lurie Children’s Hospital, and Kohl’s Cares Foundation.

Fioretti and Solis obtained $250,000 in TIF funds for the construction. More than 60 volunteers installed slides, swings, climbing equipment, and new sod; re-moved litter; and cleaned flower garden beds. For more information, call (312) 263-9273.