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City Calls for Local Workers at Ping Tom Park

By Casey Cora | January 3, 2013 4:47pm | Updated on January 8, 2013 6:45am

CHINATOWN — Looking for work?

A city program offers a crack at construction jobs for the long-planned field house at Ping Tom Memorial Park, 300 W. 19th St. 

Only a handful of people applied during the December sessions for job seekers, hosted jointly by the city’s Public Buildings Commission and the Chicago Park District.

“On the first go around, the community response was not that good. Possibly that may have been our problem, that we didn’t get the news out,” said Leonard Louie, president of the volunteer Ping Tom Park Advisory Council.

Two more sessions are scheduled for March 8 and March 23, both to be held from 10 a.m.-noon at 1700 S. Wentworth Ave.

The local hiring push is part of a city plan that requires at least 50 percent of the project’s labor force to reside in the city and pushes for hiring in neighborhoods close to the job site.

The field house will contain a swimming pool, gymnasium, fitness center, locker rooms and two meeting spaces, all housed within a 28,000 square-foot building packed with eco-friendly features, including green roofs, solar power and low-flow water use.

Project leaders are aiming for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status, among the government's top honors for sustainability in new construction.

It's being built with help from an allocation of $15 million in tax increment financing from the River South TIF District, a spokesman for the city's department of housing and economic development said.

Downtown-based engineering and architecture firm Wight & Company was awarded the contract for the project, records show. The company expects to complete the work in the fall.

It’s latest phase of a larger park project that’s been a decade in the making.

Just as renovations were completed on the park's second phase, located just north of 18th Street at Wentworth Avenue, Mayor Rahm Emanuel in September 2011 announced the construction of four new boat houses along the Chicago River, with one of the $4 million structures to be placed in the park.

And it won’t be just any old boat shack.

It’ll be designed by acclaimed Chicago architects Jeanne Gang and Christopher Lee, with help from Illinois Institute of Technology students.