HERMOSA — Chicago Public Schools has committed to rebuilding Nixon Elementary School’s playground, which was destroyed when someone set it on fire earlier this week.
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) said Thursday CPS is taking the lead on the project and providing most of the funding. The announcement comes after nearly 500 residents signed an online petition calling on CPS to rebuild the playground immediately.
CPS already hired an architect for the rebuild and expects the new playground to be finished by next spring, Ramirez-Rosa said.
Ramirez-Rosa said he’s also putting $100,000 in aldermanic menu funds toward the playground. The total cost of the project was not provided. CPS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“There’s a lot more work to be done, and the police are still investigating this horrific act of arson, but it has been heartening to see how our community has come together in the face of this tragedy,” the alderman said in a Facebook post.
“Let’s stay united. Let’s continue to work together for the good of our community.”
Someone set fire to Nixon Elementary’s playground at 2121 N. Keeler Ave. around 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to authorities. No one was hurt, but the flames destroyed the playground, leaving students suddenly without an outdoor play area.
The arson was a major blow to the Nixon community, especially parents, who fought for years to replace their deteriorating playground. The new playground was built in 2018, thanks to tenacious parents, and with no help from CPS.
“The assumption is someone did it in the heat of the moment — a very flippant thing without thinking that it was for children, that it took hundreds and hundreds of hours, and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars … to put together,” former Local School Council member Colin Bird-Martinez previously said.
In the wake of the attack, Ramirez-Rosa and CPS are also looking into installing cameras and new fencing around the playground, so only students and staff can get in during the school day, Ramirez-Rosa said.
A community safety walk, meant to “show that Hermosa is united for safety and peace,” is planned for noon Nov. 11, the alderman said.
No one was in custody for the arson as of Friday morning, police spokeswoman Kellie Bartoli said. Anyone with information is encouraged to call police or submit a tip anonymously online.
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