Somewhere on the South Side the next Tiger Woods needs a quality course

To the Editor:

It is a wonderful day to celebrate Abdel Raoul our Jackson Park First Tee young golfer has won his early rounds and is playing in the Pebble Beach Tournament. First Tee golf program has teamed up together with AYSO to allow our kids and their parents to learn and play both golf and soccer on Saturday Mornings in Jackson Park. Abdel now has to drive to the suburbs from the South Side to play on a competitive course to prepare him for the national competition.

Our south side high school teams are also forced to travel to the suburbs to practice on a competitive course. Somewhere on the South Side there is another Young Tiger Woods who needs a course as good as the suburban courses so that he or she can compete for a golf scholarship. We make our football, track, baseball and basketball courts competitive courts for our young athletes. We believe our young golf athletes deserve a competitive golf course in their Jackson Park Home Course. The next Tiger Woods could be from Jackson Park.

How wonderful to hear from Marcus Hersh [Letter to the Editor 9-20-17] again. Marcus was one of our hardworking AYSO parent coaches who inspired young women to be great soccer athletes. His daughter was a young soccer superstar. Marcus knows the hundreds of hours AYSO spent in Jackson Park and the Midway filling in holes, removing standing water, planting new grass, towing away cars parked on our fields, and chasing away those who destroyed our fields by playing in cleats on grass in the rain This good work was to create and maintain a safe and high quality playing field for our future, our young athletes. I have spent 30 years advocating and putting in the daily hard physical and mental work to make Jackson Park a safe and green place for our Highlands, South Shore, Woodlawn, and Hyde Park surrounding communities.

The facts that Marcus does not know:

1.There is a much larger list of rumors and myths gathered from speakers at the more than 40 +Jackson Park Public Meetings over the last year that I will gladly share with anyone.

2.The Nature Center is not going to be removed, it is a treasure, we ride through and clean up around it regularly, but it has safety issues that need to be fixed. We, JPAC volunteers, before there was a South Shore PAC, planted this Cultural Center Natural Area as a safe natural area for park summer camp children. I welcome anyone to join our tours and see the problems with your own eyes and then join us in doing the hard work to solve the problems so that every visitor: women, children, and men have safe access and feel safe walking alone in the South Shore Natural Area. The Shoreline erosion and the destruction of beach and lakefront revetments is very real, very visible, and again I am happy to take anyone on a tour (after Soccer season is over) to see the erosion, damage and flooding with your own eyes.

3.In the current configuration of the natural area there are multiple benches and two seating circles These are where our recent tour groups are finding used condoms, empty dime bags, human excrement and men’s underwear. The fire pits, which used to be surrounded by sand, now are surrounded by tall grass which burns easily and the remote location is unreachable by city trucks. It is one of those solvable problems that is today being fixed since we pointed it out.

4. Renovation and revitalization of fields,courts, and greens. In my 30 years as a ” hands on “AYSO and JPAC volunteer in Jackson and South Shore parks, every sports field, court, and green has been repositioned, remodeled, resurfaced, and amenities updated (except the golf courses). The Virginia Slims Tournament Tennis Courts at 59th were heavily played from their construction almost 30 years ago until 20 years ago when the two eastern courts sustained severe water damage and they were converted into Handball Courts complete with end walls to bounce the handballs off of. Those walls were vandalized, cracked and destroyed, and fell down. To convert these courts to a dog park (JPAC Dog Park Committee) we had the cracked walls removed and opened up the space for our dogs to run around.

5. Actual golf pricing will happen after the community ideas, plans, and opinions process is completed. It is like asking for a piece of cake while the flour, bananas, and butter are just being added to the mixing bowl. This is the envisioning process and the time to put your comments about the fees into the plans.

-Louis McCurry