Local parks get needed facelift

Assistant to the Editor

Jackson Park’s Dickerson Playlot, located along the 1600 block of 56th Street, and the playground at Bessie Coleman Park, 5445 S. Drexel Ave., will be open this month after renovations were made as part of a Chicago Park District (CPD) initiative.

Bessie Coleman Park’s playground opened Tuesday, Oct. 1, while, as of Herald Press time, Earl Dickerson Playlot Park was scheduled to open later this month.

Inaugurated last July, “Chicago Plays!” is a CPD program intended to fix up 300 of the city’s worn-down playgrounds. Fifty playgrounds will be complete by this fall, according to the CPD, part of a joint effort by the department and Chicago-based non-profit Friends of the Parks, which helped identify the recipient sites.

All renovated playgrounds will use engineered wood fiber surfacing, a mulch also known as Fibar, instead of poured-in place rubber surfacing.

The surfacing “wasn’t sustainable. It was very expensive,” said Maria Stone, director of neighborhood park and community relations at Friends of the Parks.

The neighborhood’s two first renovated sites will be joined later this year by Jackson Park’s Chrysalis Playlot and the playground at Harold Washington Park, 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd.

Bessie Coleman Park supporter Hope Anderson, a parent, stressed the importance of playgrounds in community social life and for the well-being of children. She said most city residents “don’t have yards where you can run and play and it’s not like the old days where your kids could just play out front and you didn’t have to worry about them.”