In Chicago, Parks Funded By Parking Garages

Mayor Richard Daley has been aggressive in transforming Chicago into a more livable city, cracking down on sociopathic motorists, encouraging traffic-calming, promoting bicycling and paying attention to the nitty gritty environmental impacts of street design. The Chicago Tribune recently reported on the Mayor's latest effort to fund citywide park-improvements projects using revenues from city-owned parking garages:

haaspark.jpg Money from leasing four publicly owned downtown parking garages will provide financing for about 100 neighborhood park-improvement projects, from new fieldhouses at five parks to new playgrounds at 50 others, Mayor Richard Daley announced Thursday. The $122 million for the projects also will help pay for what were described as major renovations for existing park facilities such as the South Shore Cultural Center, the Broadway Armory and Garfield Park's historic golden-domed fieldhouse.

"It certainly is the largest amount of capital dollars in one sum that I remember seeing in the last 20 years," said Erma Tranter, president of Friends of the Parks. "This is a unique opportunity to do some major facility construction in neighborhoods of need."

In some cases, money from the parking deal is being combined with state and federal funds and private contributions to get projects off the drawing board, officials said. About $3.5 million from the garage deal "will end up generating a total of over $8.5 million to give the people of this community the kind of park they want and deserve," Daley said. "And that's what we intend to do across the city."

Photo of Haas Park in Chicago, Stephanie Says/Flickr