LINCOLN PARK — A project that would transform a distressed field outside Alcott Elementary into turf athletic fields looks like a done deal.
A joint letter from state Rep. Ann Williams and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton on Wednesday announced a $750,000 grant that will pave the way for the project to move forward.
"It's surreal," said Robin Fine, a parent at the school who has been leading the Field of Dreams project for the past three years.
The preliminary plans seek to build an artificial turf field with a baseball diamond, soccer field and track around the field.
The Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant Program, which is part of the Illinois EPA, awarded the grant to the Field of Dreams project.
The grant is for stormwater management. For this project in particular, Alcott and Chicago Public Schools will use the cash to revamp drainage under the field as well as replace the blacktop play area with a permeable surface.
The field has drainage issues and regularly floods whenever it rains.
The grant is the largest chunk of money raised by the parent-led initiative to transform the often unusable field and playground.
"I'm so proud of our committee and the dedication that they've shown and the work they've put in," Fine said. "It feels like a little bit of celebration time."
Fine said there are a few behind-the-scenes commitments that need to be firmed up, but it looks promising that the design phase could start in November and the hope is the project could be complete by fall 2015.
Most recently the fundraising effort was awarded $50,000 from the Cubs Charities.
Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) has pledged upward of $300,000 toward the project and had been instrumental in the push to get state legislators involved.
In the joint letter, Williams and Cullerton said, "We would like to give special thanks for the tremendous advocacy of Ald. Michele Smith, who has been an incredible source of support from the begging and continues to make our children's future a top priority."
The Field of Dreams group is hosting an event with local politicians, community members and the school community Saturday at Alcott, 2625 N. Orchard St., to celebrate the grant.
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