LOGAN SQUARE — Construction has been pushed back because of coronavirus, but Logan Square’s Kosciuszko Park is still on track to get a major overhaul, according to Ald. Felix Cardona Jr., whose 31st Ward includes the park.
Cardona told Block Club the $1.85 million in Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds former 31st Ward Ald. Milly Santiago secured for the renovation project in 2019 have already been allocated and the pandemic won’t stop the project from moving forward — it’s just delaying it. Construction was supposed to start this spring.
“It’s gonna happen, but construction is not going to happen in the spring,” the alderman said.
It’s unclear when construction will start now that the pandemic has taken hold. A spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday and Cardona Jr. said he is still waiting for the agency to get back to him with a timeline.
The eight-acre park at 2732 N. Avers Ave., with its flooded baseball fields and old playground equipment, has long needed an overhaul.
Since the TIF funds were allocated last year, a few small improvements have been made: Crews upgraded the soccer field, adding new artificial turf and fencing, and installed new doors on the natatorium and new windows in the field house.
But the bulk of the work has yet to be done.
Under the project, the park is slated to get a nature play space, all new playground equipment and an outdoor challenge course and fitness center. The outdoor challenge course, the first of its kind in a city park, will replace the park’s basketball court, which hasn’t been useable since the park district removed its hoops about a decade ago.
The baseball field is slated to get a new turf infield and new lighting. Crews will remove an overgrown baseball diamond on the northwest corner of the park.
As part of the TIF allocation, the park district approved the construction of a dog area. The project — a community-led effort that launched in 2016 — will be funded through Cardona’s aldermanic menu funds and donations, not TIF dollars.
Geary Yonker, president of the Kosciuszko Park park advisory council, said so many volunteers have worked to make this project a reality over the last few years and his group is eager to see the project come to fruition.
“This was an idea that was born in the community in 2016. People voted for it in 2017. We’re just trying to honor peoples’ ideas and see it through. … not just for ourselves, but for all of those people who put their own time into it,” Yonker said.
“It’d be great to see shovels in the ground. That’s all, at this point, we’re really waiting for.”
Cardona Jr. said the improvements will transform the park, which has been neglected for too long.
“It’s going to be a great thing for our families, especially when this crisis is over. It’s something that’s desperately needed,” the alderman said.
Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.