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Taylor Street to Get First New Park in Little Italy in Years

By Chloe Riley | December 3, 2013 8:13am
 Residents will be able to give their input on a proposed Taylor Street park, which is part of the Roosevelt Square development project.
Taylor Street Park
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LITTLE ITALY — Monkey bars are at the top of the list when it comes to requests for amenities at a park proposed for Taylor Street in Little Italy — at least with the 7 and under crowd.

"I like monkey bars," Near West Side resident Latrell McCoy, 6, said Monday, while walking past the empty lot where the park will go, which is just west of Lytle Street on the south side of Taylor Street.

Grace Fitzpatrick, 7, agreed, saying simply: "Monkey bars!"

But beyond monkey bars, residents can weigh in about plans for the park — the first new park in Little Italy in years — both online and at a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting will be held at the new Urban Prairie School, 1220 W. Lexington St.

Residents can also vote for different park elements they'd like to see at the 53,000-square-foot, L-shaped property — such as park equipment or landscape features — via an online poll by community group Connecting4Communities.

An initial rendering of the park shows several soft-surface areas planned for the space, along with multiple benches, bike racks and a storm water rain garden.

The park is on land that is part of the Roosevelt Square development, a Chicago Housing Authority initiative that replaced the ABLA public housing project with mixed-income housing. The project has seen various delays since the late 1990s.

In February, the City Council voted to extend Roosevelt Square's Tax Increment Finance district until 2035, partially as a means of funding the park. No price tag has been set for the park.

While currently a Chicago Housing Authority project, the park could potentially be taken over by the Chicago Park District, Park District spokeswoman Jessica Faulkner said.

Construction on the park could begin as early as spring, according to Dennis O’Neill, executive director of Connecting4Communities.

While O’Neill isn't thrilled with putting a park along the largely commercial Taylor Street, he said the meeting will be a good opportunity to get resident input on the project.

"It's an opportunity to move forward with Roosevelt Square and get the community engaged," he said. “Having a park on Taylor might not be the most ideal space but that's what the plan calls for."

Near West Side resident Tatiana Vaughn, 21, said the park would be great for her and her 3-year-old son, Davonta. The location would be a shorter walk from their home than Sheridan Park, which is four blocks away at 910 S. Aberdeen St.

"There's a lot of kids in this area. In the summer, I'm not even sure where they play," said 34-year-old resident Aisha Adams.