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South Loop's British School Opens Rooftop Park to Public Despite Opposition

By Kelly Bauer | August 27, 2015 7:44am
 Kids played on a jumbo bounce house, mini Ferris wheel and kids-sized train as officials cut the ribbon on the rooftop park/garden at British International School Wednesday.
British International School Rooftop Garden
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SOUTH LOOP — The British International School has opened its rooftop park, which will be open to the public, despite a history of opposition from some residents.

Opponents of the rooftop park had been concerned the space wouldn't fulfill a promise to the public that the location would be used for green space. They spoke out at meetings and wrote to Ald. Danny Solís (25th), who supported the rooftop park.

But, at the park's grand opening Wednesday, speakers said the school's backers had "drowned out" those voices with their support and thanked the city and Solís.

Solís said he hopes the park will become an "anchor" that leads to further development of the area. While he received letters opposing the park when it was proposed, he's now received a letter complimenting the park but speaking out against another area development, he said.

"Look, it's really added a lot to this community," Solís said he would tell any people who still oppose the park. "People are using this place."

Martha Garcia Barragan — who has two sons, Santiago and Nicolas, at the British School — said putting the park on the school's roof is a "great compromise." She said she understood residents' concerns and attended community meetings where the school and rooftop park were debated, but she thinks the project is better than the vacant land that was at the property before the school was built.

"This is fabulous for us to be here in the new building," she said.

Samantha Kozloff, who has a daughter at the school, said she's "all for" the rooftop park.

"It's great to have a park in the city anywhere," Kozloff, of the South Loop, said. "Who wouldn't want to come?"

Stephen Bridges, the British consul general in Chicago, echoed Headmaster Michael Horton in saying more British Schools could open in the city following the opening of the South Loop building.

"We're talking about the British invasion and imperialism again," he joked.

The park is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. It is accessible by an exterior staircase or elevator at the school, 161 W. Ninth Street.

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