New City And Back Of The Yards Communities Break Ground On New Playground

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Photo Caption: Mayor Emanuel joins community members from the Back of the Yards neighborhood to break ground on a new playground at Cornell Square Park.

Photo Credit: Brooke Collins // City of Chicago

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael P. Kelly, Alderman Willie B. Cochran and members of the New City and Back of the Yards communities, including families and spiritual leaders, today gathered to break ground on the site of a new playground at Cornell Square Park, located at 1809 West 50th Street.

The community groundbreaking and celebration was also an opportunity for the residents of New City to reaffirm their commitment to ensure their park remains a place where children and neighbors can safely play and congregate.

“Chicago parks and playgrounds are the cornerstones of strong communities,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We have a shared responsibility to redouble our efforts to provide a safe and bright future for our children. We are proud to partner with neighborhood residents to revitalize and take ownership of our parks to strengthen the entire city of Chicago.”

The new playground is part of a comprehensive plan that was announced last year by the Mayor to build and improve parks throughout the city. When the project is complete, every Chicagoan will live within a 10-minute walk to an improved neighborhood park.

An estimated $577,000 will be invested into the 8.29 acre Cornell Square Park, including $335,000 in NATO funds and $242,000 in Chicago Park District funds. Last renovated in 1991, the playground’s existing worn and dated equipment will be replaced with new play equipment that exceed ADA accessibility guidelines, rubberized soft surfacing and a water spray feature. Additional site work includes pathway improvements, new benches, lighting and landscape work that includes sod restoration and the addition of new trees.

“I would like to thank the Mayor and all of the other community partners and leaders who made this playground possible. The new surfaces are designed to add a high level of safety and protection for children who use the playground,” said Alderman Willie B. Cochran, 20th Ward. “We all know the transformative power of community parks. Adding in this new playground will help us ‘take back the park’ and bring the community together by offering a new, safe space for children and families to play. I am proud of the work that has already been done and the positive outcomes that have been achieved. This marks another step towards addressing the needs of the community.”

“Many wonderful childhood experiences involve outdoor play and often those memories are cultivated in a neighborhood playground,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent Michael P. Kelly. “We hope that with the addition of this new playground, we are re-cementing Cornell Square Park as a community anchor and a destination for constructive family activities.

Earlier this month, Mayor Emanuel announced that the Chicago Police Department, with funding from the Chicago Park District, will launch the “Play Safe, Stay Safe” overtime initiative. The initiative will provide extra police patrols in parks to help prevent crime and to boost enrollment in family-centered parks programming. The Chicago Park District worked with the Chicago Police Department to identify parks where they want to boost enrollment in sports and cultural programming for families and residents. The new ‘Play Safe, Stay Safe’ initiative is an expansion of the successful Operation Impact, which saturated high crime areas with police resources.