CHATHAM — Residents living near Brown Memorial Park are calling the vacant parcel next to the park an eyesore that must go.
The 6,534-square-foot property at 634 E. 86th St. is owned by the Chicago Department of Transportation, but community members are calling on the Chicago Park District to step in and get it cleaned up.
Brown Park Advisory Board president Carl Lewis said that he and other members were working on getting the department to transfer ownership to the Park District so the lot could be maintained.
The grass goes uncut for weeks, he said. A dumpster is sometimes placed in front of the property, making it a dumping ground for furniture and hazardous materials. When it rains there are large puddles in front of the entrance, and city garbage trucks drive over the grass making it worse.
“This is the park’s official entrance and it looks bad, it’s an eyesore,” Lewis said, adding that most people don’t even know it is the main entrance so they enter the park from the next block.
The advisory board has been trying to meet with Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) and the Park District since January 2015, Lewis said. Monday he said they’re supposed to finally meet to discuss the issue next week.
Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said the Park District, which does not oversee the parcel of land near the park, would conduct a walk-through on the property with the transportation department before deciding whether to take over the space.
Sawyer, who supports the advisory council, said he didn't know why it took so long to get a meeting with the department, but everyone was working together now.
The community wants to plant flowers and bushes at the entrance, said Beth Watson, and to erect a monument to black firefighters who died in the line of duty in Chicago.
In August, Tuskegee Airmen and members of the Chicago African-American Firefighters League honored the life of the first African-American firefighter to die in the line of duty in Chicago history, Sidney Brown.
Watson said they would like to put a monument near the entrance to remember Brown and other black firefighters.
“We want a grand entrance,” she said.
Other ideas for the park are painting the benches bright vibrant colors with inspirational words and adding chess tables. Neighbors are also still raising money for a two-story field house with a swimming pool, Lewis said.
The goal is to raise $10,000 through GoFundMe.
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