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Jefferson Memorial Park Renovation Plan Moves Forward

  The plan will be submitted to the Chicago Park District for approval, officials said.
Jefferson Memorial Park Renovation Plan Moves Forward
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JEFFERSON PARK — A $3 million renovation that would reshape almost every inch of Jefferson Memorial Park drew a favorable response from the community and will now be submitted to the Chicago Park District for approval, the president of the park's advisory council said.

About 150 people took the survey, which was available at the field house, 4822 N. Long Ave., and online, advisory council chairman Lionel Rabb said.

"We got a lot of positive comments," Rabb said, adding that the events sponsored by the council — such as family movie nights, a chess club and a table tennis tournament — drew rave reviews.

The plan will be updated to reflect the comments from the surveys before being submitted to Chicago Park District officials for approval, which could come in two months, Rabb said.

Rabb said council officials met once with park district officials after the plan was unveiled in November and received a "positive response."

"It has been a good dialogue," Rabb said.

Chicago Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner did not respond to a request for comment.

The plan calls for a larger playlot, a band shell and perhaps a synthetic ice rink for the seven-acre park.

The renovation would be funded entirely from private sources, which could be the first time a Chicago Park District facility is completely overhauled without a cent of public money.

The plan also calls for the creation of a dog-friendly area near the northwest corner of the park, which now has two baseball fields, one combination football/soccer field, three tennis courts, a basketball court, a playground with a water spray feature and an outdoor swimming pool.

Rabb said he was not certain that the final plan would include a dog park, after park district officials told him it must be maintained by a community group and have deep support in the area.

"It is a lot of work," Rabb said.

Some responses to the survey objected to plans to move one of two baseball diamonds to allow the band shell to be built and to create a larger area for special events and festivals, Rabb said.

The plan calls for the basketball court to be removed. The court has long drawn complaints that it attracts drug dealing and crime, although police reports do not support those claims.

To give the seniors who frequent the park something to do, the proposal calls for the addition of chess tables and a bocce ball court.

The proposal also calls for the 130-year-old arts and crafts building at the park to be restored and turned into the new home of the Northwest Chicago Historical Society.

In addition, Jefferson Memorial Park's outdoor pool would be covered during the fall and winter to allow for year-round use, much like the one at Piotrowski Park in Little Village, according to the plan. A toddler pool would be built next to the main pool, according to the proposal.