CITY HALL — Part of the North Branch Industrial Corridor should be transformed into badly needed park land and sports fields, Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) told city planning officials at a hearing Tuesday.
But Department of Planning and Development Commissioner David L. Reifman declined to give the local alderman the commitment she wanted, saying city officials were in the process of reassessing Chicago's 26 industrial corridors — an effort to modernize hundreds of acres of land once used to produce a wide variety of products.
"I hear your concerns," Reifman said.
Without more parkland, Smith told Reifman, appearing before the City Council to defend the department's proposed 2017 budget of $167 million, efforts to keep families with children from leaving North Side neighborhoods like Lincoln Park will be thwarted.
"This is a once in a lifetime chance for green space, for significant parkland," Smith said, noting that the entire industrial area is surrounded by 88,000 homes.
However, Reifman said the ultimate plan, expected to be completed in early 2017, would have to balance a number of different goals, including the desire to create jobs.
"We are moving expeditiously but carefully," Reifman said.
In addition, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) urged Reifman to focus more closely on encouraging development in former manufacturing districts on the South Side, especially in so-called food deserts, where there are few grocery stores.
"We just have to do better as a city," Hairston said. "We must serve all people."
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