Midway Plaisance Advisory Council floats children’s garden for park’s eastern edge

Staff Writer

The Midway Plaisance Advisory Council discussed the development of the eastern end of Midway Plaisance, framed by Stony Island Avenue and the railroad embankment, at their meeting, last Wednesday.

In the context of the now abandoned proposal to build a garage for the Presidential Center on this land the Council pointed out that the existing framework plan for the Midway says that a children’s garden should eventually be included on the Midway. The plan says that the final project decision will be decided with public input.

The Midway Plaisance’s own framework plan, adopted in 2000, includes the children’s garden, in a 2001 addendum. The Midway council has a committee that considers the park’s 2000 framework plan, led by Michael McNamee. This committee is in charge of implementing the framework plan’s goals for the park. As it stands, a children’s garden would be the feature most likely to be added to the park, one that also functions as a replacement active recreation area demanded by earlier federal park funding plan terms.

The MPAC 2000 plan committee will consider public input on the garden and its location as it continues its task of implementing the framework plan.

In 1978, Congress passed the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Act (UPARR), which provided $725 million in matching grants and technical assistance for urban areas to rehabilitate recreation facilities. Parks around Hyde Park received funding and, although UPARR has not been funded since 2002, active recreation areas in parks that received funding from the program must be maintained.

Today, a galaxy of municipal and private institutions are beginning the task of preparing local parks for the implementation of the South Lakefront Framework Plan and the planned Obama Presidential Center. Because of funding received years ago from UPARR, new active recreation areas like the Children’s Garden must replace displaced facilities.

The Midway Council also discussed volunteer programming with Friends of the Park planned for Earth Day, April 21, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and “It’s Your Park Day” programming on June 16.

The next MPAC meeting will be held on May 9 at 6:30 p.m.