IRVING PARK — Carl Schurz High School is set begin construction on its new $2.7 million athletic field this week.
The project will add a regulation-sized soccer field, softball field, water fountain and a running track to the school’s campus. Once construction is complete, the fields and the track will be open to the public during non-school use.
“The athletic programs at Schurz are growing and this will give them a real chance at growing further,” said Tara Tidwell-Cullen, a member of the Friends of Schurz. “I think it will also help bring the community closer and let them get to know the school better.”
Additionally, the office of Ald. John Arena (45th) said the lighting that will be used in the field “is engineered to prevent spillover” onto the neighboring residential area – so neighbors need not worry about night games keeping them awake.
The high school at 3601 N. Milwaukee Ave. has been around since 1910 and has 1,676 students currently enrolled. Its athletic program includes track and field, cross-country, soccer, baseball and softball.
Back in 2015, the school’s then-principal Dan Kramer first proposed the idea of a new field because he would pass by Lane Tech High School’s athletic field on his commute to the school. But the initial plans were criticized for not having community input at the outset.
The following year, revised plans were presented to the public, with a point of contention the use of lights so the field can host evening events.
“I’m not a soccer person, but the field is a big deal because this will allow the school to host regular season games, which is great,” Tidwell-Cullen said. “I think every high school athlete deserves to have home games at their own school.”
Construction of the new athletic field is set to begin on Friday with the installation of construction fencing. Once that’s complete, the project will begin site excavation for drainage work next Monday. The entire project is expected to take about two to three months to complete.
During construction, West Waveland Avenue will be temporarily closed between Milwaukee and Lowell avenues but will reopen to one-way traffic after construction is completed, according to the alderman’s office.
“However, to accommodate the field and allow Schurz to play IHSA-regulation home games for the first time in its history, Waveland will be narrowed by a few feet, and Waveland will need to be one way heading from Milwaukee into the community,” Ald. Arena’s office said in the email.
“Hopefully neighbors also see the new field as an opportunity to cheer for these teams and for students to have pride in their school,” Tidwell-Cullen said. “And I think having this field will be a great way for the community to get to know the beautiful school in the middle of our neighborhood.”
The current project’s plans has a section on the east side of the field that has yet to be developed. Residents are being asked to present their ideas for how that area could be used at an open house in the Schurz Library on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.