EDISON PARK — The playlot at Edison Park's namesake park has been transformed into a shrine to the Chicago Blackhawks — but construction fencing is keeping kids out of the custom playground, despite the unseasonably warm December weather.
The red-and-black main play structure with the team's famous Indian head logo soaring overhead is complete, and the entrances and ladders on the play structure depict laser-cut outlines of hockey stick-wielding skaters in motion.
Signs threaten to prosecute anyone in the park, where construction equipment still sits, and ask passers-by to call police if they see anyone inside the fence.
The playground also features a swing set and a triangle-climbing bridge.
Wood-based soft Fibar chips have yet to replace the park's surface, which is still covered in wood chips. Typically, the Friends of the Park and the Chicago Park District ask for volunteers to complete that task.
Chamber officials have been working for years to turn the former rotted, rusted, drab and dangerous playlot in the heart of the neighborhood's business district into a one-of-a-kind playground and to honor team CEO John McDonough, an Edison Park native.
In April, officials announced the Chicago Plays program would contribute $125,000 in new equipment to the playlot and launched a $100,000 fundraising effort to turn it into a shrine to the Stanley Cup champions. The fundraising goal was later increased to $150,000 without explanation.
A sign on the fence surrounding the playground says the fundraising effort is continuing, and urges supporters to call the chamber at 773-631-0063 or go to edisonpark.com.
In September, Edison Park Chamber of Commerce director Melissa McIntrye asked chamber members and residents in an email for help, after raising just $30,000 in five months.
McIntyre did not return an email message Wednesday about the fundraising effort, which has been roundly criticized on Facebook by some Edison Park residents who wrote that they were unwilling to contribute to the playground after the Chicago City Council imposed a massive property tax increase.
A raffle in October was designed to raise $50,000, but it is not clear whether that was successful.
Others suggested that the Blackhawks should foot the bill for the "enhanced playground" at 6755 N. Northwest Highway.
A spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District did not respond to questions about when the playground will be completed.
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