BUCKTOWN — Described as "the jewel of Bucktown" by a volunteer, a 101-year-old Chicago Park District field house will get a major makeover with $1.2 million in state funds, it was announced Saturday.
Gov. Pat Quinn stopped by the playground behind the Holstein Park Field House, 2200 N. Oakley Ave. on Saturday to deliver the news to a small army of volunteers from Friends of Holstein Park and Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).
"It's so vibrant, energetic to see all the young boys and girls at the park, that's what parks are all about," Quinn said before telling the group that the park will receive a $1.2 million grant from a Parks and Recreational Facility Construction (PARC) program, funded through the Illinois Jobs Now! initiative.
"Some of the parks built 100 years ago need some improvements. [The grant] will make it more energy efficient and more accessible and available," Quinn said.
The $1.2 million from the state will be applied toward an estimated $2.1 million needed to renovate the historic field house, which was built in 1912.
Currently in the design phase — with work expected to begin in the spring — the interior and exterior renovations will include electrical and plumbing upgrades, new accessible restrooms, locker rooms and ramps.
Exterior renovations will include a roof and skylight replacement, as well as repairs to interior water-damaged finishes and an updated filter system at the existing wading pool, according to Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, a Park District spokeswoman.
Addressing the crowd, Michelle Fike Maher, a volunteer from Friends of Holstein Park, said, "The field house really is the jewel of Bucktown. The park is more than the building, more than the brick and mortar: it's our experiences."
Waguespack, whose office is contributing $300,000 in ward menu funding toward the renovations, lauded Quinn for the support.
"That money, along with what the Holstein mothers and fathers have raised and the people of Bucktown, will make sure this building continues for decades and hundreds of years to come," Waguespack said.
The Chicago Park District is supporting the project with $375,000, while $150,000 is expected to come from private fundraising efforts through Friends of Holstein Park. Another $50,000 has been pledged from the Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Faulkner said.
After the ceremony, Carolyn Aberman, whose 7-year-old daughter, Carly Aberman, attends summer camp at the park, credited Waguespack for being "very supportive."
"Maybe we screamed loud enough, I don't know but we do a great job here with lots of volunteers. People love this park and we want it to be amazing. It's frustrating we can't show how awesome it is, but now with these funds it will make the park much more accessible and enticing for people to come out and use it," Aberman said.
Waguespack, who was headed to a 5 p.m. performance of the Midnight Circus in the park with his wife and two young sons, said he enjoys visiting the park with his family.
"We spent a lot of days swimming here with the boys," Waguespack said.
Waguespack credited the Friends of Holstein Park "for being fantastic, for keeping things going and being the driver of fundraising efforts dating back eight years."
To stay updated on the park, including the annual Bucktown Apple Pie Contest fundraiser on Oct. 19, visit Friends of Holstein Park's website.
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