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As a 606 Park Expands, Trailgoers Wonder Why Bathrooms Still Not Added

By Alisa Hauser | January 11, 2016 10:42am
 A vacant lot at 1808 N. Whipple Street in Humboldt Park that was bought by the Park District and will be part of a 606 park expansion.
A vacant lot at 1808 N. Whipple Street in Humboldt Park that was bought by the Park District and will be part of a 606 park expansion.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

HUMBOLDT PARK —  Julia de Burgos Park — one of four ground-level parks located along the elevated Bloomingdale Trail — will soon be offering more green space, though residents are wondering if bathrooms could also be added to The 606's 2.7-mile-long trail and park system.

Just north of Julia de Burgos Park, an empty lot at 1808 N. Whipple St. was bought by the city for $260,000 in July and will serve as an expansion to the neighboring park, said Beth White, the Chicago region office director for The Trust for Public Land, the city's private partner tapped with managing the public park project.

"The parcel of land behind the sign has been purchased by the City of Chicago and will be added to the park. We are delighted that de Burgos will be expanded to serve the families who love the park," White said. 

White said that the land will eventually offer "green space for children to play on."

A "For Sale by Owner" sign that bears a scrawled written price tag of $500,000 and a sign announcing "park expansion coming" currently hang on a fence surrounding the property behind Julia de Burgos Park.

The City of Chicago bought the land for $260,000 in July, according to county records. Pete Strazzabosco, the city's Deputy Planning and Development Commissioner, said that on Wednesday, a proposal is expected to be introduced to City Council to allocate $235,000 in Open Space Impact Fees for environmental cleanup at the site.

Open Space Impact Fees are fees charged to new residential developments to help expand and improve park spaces in each of the City’s 77 community areas.

"Once the work is completed later this year, the site would be transferred to the Park District to expand Julia De Burgos Park by .15 acres," Strazzabosco said.

Currently Julia de Burgos Park, 1805 N. Albany Ave., is the only park along the trail's western end; two other Humboldt Park parks, including one at the former Magid Glove factory, are under construction. Three other parks, Churchill, 1825 N. Damen Ave.; Walsh Park, 1722 N. Ashland Ave.; and Park 567 at 1805 N. Milwaukee Ave. are all in Bucktown.

Vivian Garcia, the Chicago Park District's manager for The 606, known as "Park 572," did not return calls or emails requesting comment on the park expansion or if bathrooms will be added to the park.

Officials have estimated that The 606 has a $95 million price tag; the bulk of it was paid for through a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant and private fundraising.

Donald Faliszek, a member of the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail Facebook Page, suggested that "bathroom facilities would be nice" for the expanded park.

Currently there are no bathrooms offered along the 2.7-mile-long trail, not even in the four ground-level parks, so the lack of facilities has caused a spike in bathroom requests at businesses near the elevated trail, such as Snappy Mobile gas station.

On Monday, Rocky Patel, manager of Snappy's Mobile, 1750 N. Western Ave., said more than 100 people each day were coming off of the trail and to his business to use the bathroom over the summer.

"It is not as bad now in the winter but over the summer we were going through 10 or 15 rolls of toilet paper a day and spent $300 to get our flush mechanism, which broke twice, repaired," Patel said.

Patel said "people were begging" to use the bathrooms at the gas station, which is located near the trail's half way point next to the Western Avenue ramp.

"The city needs to add a bathroom, even just one so it will be less crowds for us," Patel said.

In addition to bathrooms, local parents say they would like to see see some playground equipment geared more toward the baby/toddler set such as infant swings and smaller equipment.

"We live very close and would utilize this park much more if there was something for our 1-year-old to use," said Emily Shupe.

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