LOGAN SQUARE — A plan to overhaul the dilapidated Logan Boulevard skate park is inching forward as community advocates try to drum up financial support for a major renovation.
The popular park, 2430 W. Logan Blvd., has fallen into disrepair in recent years. Many of the ramps are damaged, and pigeon droppings coat the grounds.
Skate park advocates met with neighbors and Park District officials in November to brainstorm how to maintain and renovate the park underneath the Kennedy Expressway. The Park District is working to fix the existing infrastructure and soliciting bids for short-term repairs, spokeswoman Irene Tostado said.
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In the meantime, the community-led Logan Boulevard Skate Park Committee is pushing for a $1.5 million remodel, trying on its own to raise some of the money needed for the ambitious project.
Extensive upgrades — not short-term fixes — are needed to ensure the skate park is a safe community hub for years to come, said Logan Laurie, longtime skater and chair of the Logan Boulevard Skate Park Committee.
“If we did what the Park District wanted us to do, and we just put a Band-Aid on it, we know this park wouldn’t be addressed for another five years,” Laurie said. “We don’t want to spend $100K on a wasteful solution.”
The committee had skate park design company Spohn Ranch Skateparks create renderings ahead of an upcoming meeting with potential benefactor Sen. Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas. The senator, who grew up just blocks from the skate park, previously pledged to support the project.
Many of the park’s ramps have holes or missing chunks that cause injuries. The ramps have crumbled because they’re made of prefabricated wood and require frequent maintenance.
Unlike the city’s other five skate parks, Logan is open year-round because the expressway shields it from rain and snow. But the elements still take a toll on the infrastructure. The only way to fix the issue of deteriorating wooden ramps is to replace them with concrete ones, Laurie said.
“The wood deteriorates in the elements. A big, heavy bike or machine smashes in, and … it loses its shape, creating really hazardous barriers for people when they skateboard or bike,” he said.
The park’s pigeon infestation is another problem that needs immediate attention, park advocates have said. Laurie previously said there’s a “film of pigeon poop throughout the whole park which turns into particles in the summer that are just sticking to you in the humidity.”
A Park District official said a few months ago the agency is looking into installing spikes, netting or fencing to keep pigeons out of the park. None of those preventative measures have been added.
The neighborhood committee is raising money for the renovation through a GoFundMe campaign and T-shirt sales. So far, the online fundraiser has raised $3,188 toward its $5,000 goal. The group is also spreading awareness through an online petition.
Those efforts alone won’t bring a project of this size to fruition, organizers said. Overhauling the skate park will cost millions and require a patchwork of city, state and potentially even federal funding.
The committee is in talks with Pacione-Zayas, other elected officials and the Park District to fund the project. Pacione-Zayas previously said she was exploring allocating funds from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill toward the plan, but on Wednesday she clarified the project isn’t eligible for those funds. The state senator is now trying to financially support the project with state capital funds, she said.
“It’s right in my backyard, literally down the street from where I grew up,” Pacione-Zayas said. “I’m also a huge proponent of providing people space to explore their passions and be able to form relationships with each other and be physically active. To me, it’s a no-brainer to support an initiative like this.”
The Park District, which leases the skate park’s land from the Illinois Department of Transportation for $1 per year, is working with the committee to “develop a long-term plan to rebuild” the skate boarding destination, Tostado said.
Not much has changed at the skate park so far. On a recent unseasonably warm day, about 30 kids were out skateboarding, despite the damaged ramps and pigeon droppings, Laurie said.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy. We need to do this. [Regardless] of the state it’s in, kids are using it.’ It’s a hub, and it’s pulsating — and it’s a hazard,” he said.
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