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Red Line Extension Could Run Through Parks Along Route

By Andrea V. Watson | November 8, 2016 5:04am | Updated on November 11, 2016 11:40am
 Wendell Smith Park’s two junior-sized baseball fields could be replaced with one larger new baseball field.
Wendell Smith Park’s two junior-sized baseball fields could be replaced with one larger new baseball field.
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DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson

ROSELAND — A few Far South Side parks could lose land — but possibly get improvements — under a proposed extension of the Red Line, officials said.

CTA officials are considering two routes, an east option and a west option, to extend the Red Line 5.3 miles from 95th Street to 130th Street.

RELATED: Dozens of Homes Would Need to Be Demolished Under Red Line Extension

Under the east option, the northwest corner of Wendell Smith Park, 9912 S. Princeton Ave., and the western part of Block Park, 346 W. 104th St., would be permanently affected.

Wendell Smith Park, 9912 S. Princeton Ave., and Block Park, 346 W. 104th St. would be permanently affected under a proposed extension of the Red Line. [CTA]

Of the 4.7 acres of Wendell Park, approximately 0.7 acres would be overlapped by the elevated structure. Piers would be located in the park, and the bottom of the elevated structure would be approximately 15 feet above ground level.

In Block Park, the east option would run through the western part of the park. The elevated structure would overlap 0.9 acres of park space. The elevated track structure supports would be placed permanently in the west part of the park. An auxiliary station entrance would also be located in the park, along the western edge of the park.

Both of the parks affected by the east option would still offer park space, but the size would be reduced.

Under the west option, approximately 1.9 acres of Fernwood Parkway from 99th Street to 103rd Street between the existing Union Pacific Railroad tracks and Eggleston Avenue would be affected.

CTA said it’s working with the Chicago Park District to identify ways to minimize park impacts. CTA is looking at possible new replacement parks in or near the affected community areas.

They’re also looking at ways to enhance the parks. For example, proposed measures for Fernwood would include the potential installation of a new bicycle path beneath the elevated track structure.

Under the east option, Wendell Smith Park’s two junior-sized baseball fields would be replaced with one larger new baseball field. One of the smaller baseball fields would be replaced at another nearby park. Sidewalks, paths, benches and trees at Wendell Park would be replaced.

Rico Johnson lives near Wendell Park and brings his two daughters there.

Johnson's daughters come to this park at least every two weeks. [DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson]

He said he supports the Red Line Extension project.

“I think it’ll be nice,” he said, adding that his girls and other children probably won’t like their playtime being disrupted while the park is being worked on.

“I think the kids won’t be too fond of it because this is the closest one with the swings, that’s why we come over here,” Johnson said. “There are plenty of parks out here. It won’t be such a big deal.”

CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said that the rail extension would only affect a very small portion of the northwest corner of the park.

“We would seek to keep as much of the park open as possible and would only close off the portion of the park that was absolutely needed for construction,” Chase said. “It’s too soon to know at this point in time how long a portion of the park would need to be closed off.”

Chicago Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said it's working closely with CTA.

“Any parkland lost in the extension will be replaced and could receive additional enhancements,” she said.

The park district released this statement:

“The Chicago Park District collaborates across city agencies to ensure that public spaces are maintained or enhanced for all Chicagoans to enjoy. We fully support efforts by Chicago Transit Authority on this critical infrastructure improvement that will improve transportation options for South Side residents.”

CTA also identified 15 wetland areas totaling 15.34 acres of potentially affected wetlands at the site of 130th Street station and the 120th Street yard and shop. They’re working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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