Residents of West Edgewater and Andersonville in Chicago want a park. They have been staring at the deserted Edgewater Medical Center buildings that have been vacant for ten years, which are tied up in Federal bankruptcy court, and will be for some time.   The parcel residents are eyeing for the park to span from Ashland Avenue west to Hermitage, and from Edgewater Avenue south to Hollywood. Visit Friends of West Edgewater Park for details of the discussion.

I agree that the area is sorely lacking in park and playground space.  Residents have to cross busy Ashland Avenue with their children in tow, to reach the tiny play lot park that is located behind the Jewel Store. Friends state that a park is good for the community, quoting a statistic that home values within 200 feet of a park increase by 5% when a park is installed. You can read about the value of parks at The Trust for Public Lands Primer on The Economic Value of Public Parks.

But looking closely at the parcel, is a park for the entire site the best solution?   Building a park on Ashland Avenue doesn’t seem to be a great idea.   Who wants to relax in a park that is heavily trafficked, with its noise, and dirt, and emissions from cars and trucks?   A more eco friendly solution is to leave the existing building that is located at the corner of Edgewater and Ashland, but remodel it as office space.

This proposed office building will provide a barrier to Ashland Avenue that will quiet the noise, dirt and fumes. It will also bring office workers to patronize the local retail and restaurant establishments at the north end of Ashland and Clark Streets. It will reduce the waste generated by a demolition, and will also bring badly needed tax revenues to the area.  A good compromise all around. The park can then be built just west of the office building. The building will also be a way to at least, in part, satisfy the investors who are upside down by $55 million in bad loans. The Alderman says there isn’t enough money from the TIF to fund an entire park. Perhaps this compromise will suit everyone. What do you think?

Maggie Finegan, Move with Maggie Team

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