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Sauganash Elementary 'Dust Bowl' Gets $1.2 Million Turf Field, Track

By Alex Nitkin | September 18, 2017 4:51am
 City officials cut the ribbon Sunday on a field they said was a safer, more flood-resistant upgrade.
$1.2M Turf Field, Track Replace Sauganash Elementary 'Dust Bowl'
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SAUGANASH — Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a weekend trip to Sauganash Elementary School, 6040 N. Kilpatrick Ave., to tout the completion of a $1.2 million new turf field and track Sunday.

Spanning 29,500 square feet and first announced last September, the new field's spongy surface was designed to make recess both safer and more flood-resistant than the dirt patch that preceded it, officials said.

"It's unfair to have kids in a dust bowl, where every time it rains it's unusable, and the kids can't play," Emanuel told a crowd of about 100 teachers and parents on Sunday.

After the 2012 construction of a $14 million new annex for the school came in under budget, principal Christine Munns and Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) lobbied the mayor to follow up the project with a field upgrade, he said.

On Sunday, Munns held up a clump of the fabric mesh that had lined the field, saying she would "finally get to throw away" the tangled mass.

More than a nuisance, the netting was a safety hazard, according to eighth-grader Tessa Mitchell, who introduced Emanuel.

"There were roots everywhere, and this netting on the ground that would stick up — kids would fall on it all the time," Tessa said. "We would rip it up and bring it to our teachers."

Sunday's ribbon-cutting marked the second new turf field to grace a Northwest Side school this year, after a similar play lot was unveiled at Hitch Elementary School, 5625 N. McVicker Ave., earlier this month. Together, they join a a $50 million raft of annexes and renovations announced for Northwest Side schools earlier this year.

The construction was partially funded through the city's historically steep property tax hike passed in 2015, which is still being phased in. Emanuel has suggested that taxpayers can expect another 2.5 percent hike this year to "avert a train wreck" for the school system's finances.