Neighbors Praise Plans for Albion Park, With a Few Suggestions

By Benjamin Woodard on April 17, 2013 9:07am 

ROGERS PARK — A group of about 30 neighbors had mostly good things to say Tuesday night about the Chicago Park District's plans to develop a long-vacant lot at Albion Avenue and the lake.

"This is going to be a tremendous improvement for this area," said Branislav Ugrinov, an 11-year resident of Columbia Avenue, just a couple blocks from where the new $275,000 park will be created.

The 63-year-old, who splits his time between Cleveland and Chicago, said he swims, runs and kayaks on the lakefront.

"I wake up every morning and I ask myself, 'Am I in Heaven or am I in Rogers Park?'"

Many of the future park's details — including the crushed-gravel path, lighted pergola and shade trees — had already been revealed by Ald. Joe Moore (49th).

But Michael Lange, the project's manager, answered questions and addressed concerns expressed by some at the meeting.

"It's really a simple plan," Lange said when asked about whether native plants and community gardens could be added to the plan.

He said other features, like gardens, could be added in the future after the planned drinking fountain and water connection is installed.

Other neighbors said they wanted the path, from Albion Avenue to the northeast portion of the lot, to access both the beach and the alleyway.

Some neighbors who live near the now-empty lot said they were concerned about more foot traffic and gang loitering near their homes.

Lange said the park would be have several lights to discourage people from congregating at night.

While the fence now surrounding the lot would be removed, the district plans to erect a 4-foot-tall, black chain-link fence on the west and north sides. The rip-rap on the beach would remain under the plan.

He said the park district has owned the land since 2007, but it only recently found the additional money needed to redevelop the property in a fund created by the Open Space Impact Fee, which is set aside for the development of open space in the city.

Projects funded by the fee must be approved by the City Council.

Lange said the park would be similar to the park located in Edgewater at Sheridan Road and Thorndale Avenue.

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