Emanuel: Improvements coming to 300 Chicago playgrounds - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Emanuel: Improvements coming to 300 Chicago playgrounds

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Over the next five years, the Chicago Park District will rebuild, repair or refurbish 300 playgrounds across the city, the largest investment of its kind ever in the city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday.

Speaking before community leaders and community members at the Harrison Park Field House at 1824 S. Wood St., the mayor announced "Chicago Plays," a five-year playground renovation project.

It targets replacement of equipment at more than 300 aging playgrounds , with immediate work plans including the completion of 50 playground upgrades by November.

The Chicago Park District is cooperating with the Park Advisory Councils and Friends of the Park n the implementation of this program.

The mayor also mentioned investments in the park system throughout the city, including:

— Maggie Daley Park to the immediate east of Millennium Park, which will offer a mix of habitat, ecology and recreation features such as rock climbing sculptures, an ice skating ribbon and play garden.

— Work at Northerly Island will include creation of a four-acre pond, controlled hydraulically via Lake Michigan; re-grading of land to create hills and vistas; management of native plantings to welcome local and migratory birds and wildlife; nature education opportunities; and a natural oasis for walkers, runners, bikers, para-triathletes and cross-country skiers.

— Little Village Park, the largest U.S. EPA Superfund-to-park conversion in a major city, according to the mayor's office. The park in the former Celotex 22-acre park development includes two artificial turf athletic fields, three natural grass athletic fields, large playground with water spray feature, skate park, comfort station, promenade, trails and storm water infrastructure.

— Bloomingdale Trail, the longest urban elevated rails-to-trails conversion in the world, is a 2.7 mile conversion of underutilized elevated train line into a connective, multiple access point trail for bikers and pedestrians. It will link four neighborhoods and create more than 15 acres of parkland.

— West Ridge Nature Preserve, a 20-acre wooded site along the northwestern edge of Rosehill Cemetery in the West Ridge neighborhood, will be developed as a new park and trail with funding from a federal grant and TIF funds. It offers a complete restoration of degraded land; trail for walking, biking, and hiking; designated fishing and wildlife viewing areas; canoe and kayak launch; and elevated overlooks of the city and park.

There will also be lighting improvements at 48 Slam Dunk basketball courts and six more artificial turf fields for sports including football, soccer and rugby, raising the number of such fields in the city to 45. The city will acquire another 200 acres of parkland in 2013, the release said.

There will also be four new parks added in 2013, according to the release.

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