Parks group pushing Montrose soccer field

A park advocacy group is threatening continued legal action unless the Chicago Park District cleans up an abandoned soccer field construction project at the south end of Lincoln Park and pursues an alternate site for the field.

The district agreed two years ago to allow the Latin School to construct a field near its campus at West North Boulevard and Clark Street. The field was partially finished when Protect Our Parks sued to stop the deal earlier this year.

As a result of the lawsuit settlement, the project was halted. The district says it is also required to reimburse Latin School for $2 million in construction costs.

Protect Our Parks argued yesterday that the $2 million should be spent on a new field at Montrose Harbor.

"One look at the space available in this location should make it totally obvious why any new soccer field construction belongs there and why the present construction site in south Lincoln Park is completely inappropriate," POP president Tom Tresser said yesterday at a news conference.

POP says it is concerned the district and the school will work on other arrangements to build on the site.

A Park District spokesperson did not return a call seeking comment.

The Latin School is no longer involved in discussions over what will become of the site, a school spokeswoman says. The school has no plans to build a new field, and would support a Park District project at Montrose Harbor, says spokeswoman Evelyne Girardet.

Much of the money the school spent on the south Lincoln Park field came from individual donors, and needs to be reimbursed by the Park District to do that, she says.

POP surveyed soccer programs and evaluated potential sites for a new field, and determined that Montrose Harbor's parking, convenient location and proximity to public transportation should win out.

The site already has one artificial turf soccer field that hosts the annual Mayor's Cup Youth Soccer Tournament every July. The POP says that expanding that site will allow the field to serve the Latin School as well as other Chicago residents.

"$2 million (at Montrose Bay) could create a facility that everybody in Chicago could use and be proud of," said POP board member Herb Caplan.

The North Avenue site is in limbo. POP is demanding that it be reopened to the public.

"They fenced it off and left a construction mess," says Caplan.

POP will hold a community meeting at First St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church Thursday night at 7 p.m. in effort to rally more support for continuing the fight against the park district.

Discuss

TOM TRESSER, 06-25-2008

Protect Our Parks is trying to be a positive force and not just a "nay sayer" - if there is a real need for more fields, we think Montrose is a logical place to expand - because of its ease of access for ALL. Come to our community meeting 6/26 at 7pm - details at http://www.savelincolnpark.org.

J DADE DARBY, 06-26-2008

Hey Everyone,



Quite obviously, the compromise is to build a field at North Ave. AND at Montrose. Who is the Leader here?

CRAIG SCHWARTZ, 06-26-2008

POP may say they are not just "nay sayers", but the reality is that the Parks Dept can not afford to build these fields without help from the private sector, Latin being one of those private sector organizations. And POP knows this. So suggesting they would be okay with allowing another turf field at Montrose is easy when you know the funding to do so is not there.



What I'd like to know is what they are doing other than fighting those who are trying to make positive changes for the children of Chicago? And not just the children who go to a private school like Latin. Other schools, public schools like Walter Payton HS Prep who have no soccer field, would have also benefited from this field they so happily stopped from being completed.



Perhaps Mr. Tresser needs to live by some of his own words, "But, like a natural resource, creativity can be polluted, squandered and blocked." Latin and the Parks Dept came up with a creative solution to give more kids in this city an opportunity to play soccer on fields that don't ENDANGER THEIR WELL_BEING...something that is sorely lacking throughout Chicago. But unfortunately Tom and POP are polluting, squandering and blocking this and other opportunities like it.


EURYDICE CHRONES, 06-26-2008

Lincoln Park is a regional park serving all of Chicago as well as thousands of tourists. Oh. And they're not just children. IT is second ONLY to Central Park in visitors. This is NOT the place for an artificial turf field. If the Park District says it doesn't have the money, why is it so bent on completing this field? Where is that money coming from? To the poster above's point, why not upgrade the ALREADY-EXISTING and dangerously neglected soccer field at Oz Park? Why not build soccer fields in the land becoming available near Cabrini Green? That area would serve both Payton AND Latin. It would serve a far larger and more diverse community. WHY take away PUBLIC land that serves a lot more than just soccer players when land that is either ALREADY a soccer field or could easily be turned into one and serve FAR more public, private, and parochial students is ignored? One would have to believe it is simply to serve the desires of The Latin School and the adult leagues who profit from it. The children -- the MAJORITY of Chicago's children -- are not being served. In fact, the similar deal with AYSO is stalled pending this. Why not take the money they seem to suddenly have to build this field and build the AYSO fields that would serve thousands of children?? There are MANY alternatives to Lincoln Park. Leave Lincoln Park green and open to ALL Chicagoans. Use our taxes to FIX existing facilities and do not usurp any more of our green, open space. It is far too rare and far to precious. And I say this as a mom of two future soccer players who hates to drive but would gladly drive to Montrose or elsewhere to save public green, open space for the rest of my fellow citizens.

CRAIG SCHWARTZ, 06-27-2008

Unfortunately EURYDICE CHRONES needs to learn some facts:

-All the parks you mentioned are public parks.

-To improve or create soccer fields at any of these public parks would require private funding to help offset the cost the Parks District lacks.

-If you read my original comment you would see that I said the Parks District can not do it alone...not that they do not have any funding.

-No park or field or facility can serve all of Chicago's children. But the Latin field was only one field scheduled to be built or fixed...all now affected/stalled by the POP lawsuit.

-Among them, the AYSO field improvement is stalled because of this lawsuit. They will most likely become POP's next target deciding that the dangerous dirt patches that 3000+ children play on every fall and spring need protection more than our children.

-The patch of land in the section of Lincoln Park the Latin/Park's District were funding was rarely used for anything other than sports and festivals. I doubt you and you children spent much time there let alone the other visitors to Lincoln Park.

-Oz Park is only the park it is today because of private funding raised by the people of the neighborhood. While others are welcome to use this park I would bet that 90% or more of the regular visitors live in the neighborhood.

-This is no different than the Latin/Park District agreement. Latin raises substantial funds and gets some...SOME...exclusive use of the fields.

-I find it interesting that you suggest building soccer fields in the land becoming available near Cabrini Green because It would serve a far "larger and more diverse" community now that the "diversity" of this area has been moved out. And who would you suggest build these fields?



As a Mom of 2 future soccer players, I suggest you take a drive around and look at the fields your children might play on someday. Here's a small list right in the area you can check out:

-Btwn Lawrence & Foster, east of Lakeshore Drive. Be careful of the glass, rocks, sewer grates, etc in the middle of the fields.

-All the fields at Montrose other than the turf field. Take a run and try not to sprain an ankle in the potholes. Or enjoy a game of uphill soccer.

-The very east field near the Waveland clocktower. Again be careful of the glass and dangerous landfill elements used to create this patch of "grass". Or watch the kids practice between the baseball fields during the week. Just be careful like these kids need to be of fly balls hit by the Adult leagues who play and practice there.

-The field at the old Near North HS. Thanks to the agreement between CPS, Jones HS and the private, not-for-profit Lakefront Attack travel soccer club, these fields are better now than they used to be. Check them out and you'll see that unfortunately they pale in comparison to what a reasonable filed should be.

-Check out the public school fields that schools like Walter Payton play on. Oh wait those don't even exist.



Once you do that then think how much negative effect the Latin field would have had on on the "green' of Lincoln park versus all the negative impact POP's lawsuit has had; discouraging and/or preventing private funding from helping make improvements throughout the city's parks...for everyone.

DEAN W., 06-27-2008

Hey, Tresser--you know that Montrose Harbor is part of Lincoln Park, too? Why is it 'ok' to plunk something you don't want in YOUR back yard into OUR back yard when you can squeeze a soccer field into a pre-prepared spot in YOUR back yard? Have you polled the neighborhoods around Montrose Harbor to see if WE want your Latin School's playground? Are you prepared to do fundraising to re-pave the pock-holed parking lots at Montrose? Or to do traffic studies to determine how to manage the addition to the existing gridlock we have with people outside of the surrounding neighborhoods converging on Montrose Harbor? (Many summer weekends find traffic backed up onto LSD, with the entrance to Montrose Harbor closed and traffic on Montrose Avenue backed up to west of 1200W.) And how "accessible to ALL" is it when the CTA bus routes and Red Line stops are surrounded by gang turf and regular fights and shootings?



It sounds like you're not very logical nor that you're doing your homework...as a matter of fact, you're expressing classic NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitude. Is it because you don't want a SOCCER FIELD in YOUR end of Lincoln Park...or is it because you don't want *Hispanic soccer players* in your end of Lincoln Park? In any event, you might better rename your organization "Save [the South End of] Lincoln Park", because you're not doing anything but trying to protect one small patch in your neighborhood while you're willing to give away the parts of it that aren't within walking distance of YOUR homes.