MCKINLEY PARK — A volunteer neighborhood group said it was disappointed to learn it didn't make the cut for the first round of a city-backed playground replacement program, but happy a different funding program will help get them what they want.
The group expressed disappointed because they wanted the overhaul of the crowded, outdated and dirty playground equipment sooner but are relieved to hear that help is on the way, courtesy of the Chicago Plays! initiative.
The local group had already been rallying to raise money and drum up support for the playground project at the McKinley Park lot, which would've required the Chicago Park District to foot a third of the bill. The remainder would have been split between the alderman's office and private interests such as park advisory councils.
But the city program scrapped that formula in favor of one where Chicago Plays! picks up the entire tab, by way of the Park District's capital budget.
So when the 35 playgrounds slated for replacement under the program were announced last week — including nearby McGuane Park in Bridgeport and Armour Square Park — neighbors were bummed to hear they'd missed out.
But then they received a follow-up email saying work on the McKinley Park lot, 2210 W. Pershing Road, would start in 2014.
"We felt a little disappointed...but it was smart of them to announce it like that instead of just kind of making us wait," said Heather Breems, who helped lead the effort.
Breems said the group is now hoping to send some of the cash they've already raised — about $2,000 — to upgrade the new park when it's finished.