Drain the swamp but share the wealth

To the Editor:

The Chicago Park District should have fixed the swampy east end of the Midway at Stony Island decades ago. Yes, let’s do it now. There are many great ideas for a new design. As long as the public is included in the planning, Olmsted’s vision for the Midway is respected, and it’s enjoyable for people, it will be a welcome success.

BUT – The City owes $260,000 for new parkland to replace the 19 acres of public land that will be lost to the Obama Tower. To make a playground at the east end of the Midway and to call that new replacement parkland is a tricky sleight-of-hand.

And worse, to use this special money to benefit Hyde Park lacks any sense of social justice. This spot is in a particularly wealthy and white part of the South Side, already well endowed with parks, and half a block from the Lab School’s Early Childhood Center.

South Shore, East Woodlawn, West Woodlawn, Washington Park, Englewood – these neighborhoods are all park-poor and their residents need new park spaces much more than the southeast corner of rich Hyde Park. For instance, West Woodlawn, two square miles big, has not one park, not even a playlot.

Let’s make something great at the east end of the Midway. And let’s invest the $260,000 in a South Side neighborhood that really needs new parkland.

Best,

Jack Spicer