AVONDALE — Amazon is not making many new friends in the area around Brands Park in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood.
The retail giant on Thursday installed a large Amazon delivery locker atop a sidewalk running through the park, partially blocking the path and drawing immediate scorn and bewilderment from park users and the local alderwoman.
In Facebook comments, locals said the new Amazon “hub” is not only unsightly, but is also a glaringly obvious safety concern because it prevents people with strollers and people in wheelchairs from easily passing through the public park.
“This looks so absurd I can’t even believe it’s real,” one neighbor commented on Facebook.
Another wrote: “who the heck green lighted this massive boondoggle? please report to your alderman if you live in this ward. disgust!”
Ald. Rosanna Rodriguez (33rd) said a Park District supervisor told her the lockers in the park at 3259 N. Elston Ave. were installed there by mistake. Chicago Park District spokeswoman Irene Tostado wouldn’t confirm, saying only, “The locker was installed in the correct park.”
Rodriguez on Friday asked the Park District supervisor to move the lockers to a more appropriate location. Amazon is now “working quickly” to move the lockers, company spokesman Av Zammit said. Tostado confirmed a request to move the lockers has been submitted.
“We take the safety of our customers and the communities in which we operate in very seriously. We’re looking into this matter and are committed to working with the Chicago Park District to address these concerns,” Zammit said in a statement.
Rodriguez said her office has fielded numerous complaints from constituents since it was installed in the park. She said she was stunned when a neighbor sent her photos of the lockers, which were stationed on the sidewalk near the playground.
“It just looks crazy,” the alderwoman said. “I don’t even understand how someone could’ve thought that was an OK place to put it.”
Many have broader concerns about Amazon’s presence in public parks. About 100 people have signed an online petition calling on city officials to “keep our parks community spaces free from predatory businesses like Amazon.” The company has long been criticized for its poor treatment of its workers and grueling workplace conditions.
“To go to a place that is a public good, a place of recreation, and then see the branding of one of the most anti-worker companies in the world … it’s so disturbing,” Rodriguez said.
A total of 68 Amazon lockers are being installed at Chicago parks across the city, according to a list provided by the Park District. Some have already been installed, and others are being installed later this month. The full list is below.
Rodriguez said the lockers are a symptom of a larger budgetary issue the city is facing.
“When you have public institutions that are not well-funded, and can’t function with the budget they’re provided by the government, they need to look for other sources of revenue. This is how we get a company like Amazon to have a presence in our public parks. It’s disheartening,” the alderwoman said.
Zammit said Amazon is evaluating lockers at other parks to make sure they’re installed “in appropriate areas that serve both customers and the community.”
Tostado didn’t immediately answer a question about how much revenue the partnership will bring the city.
“It is beyond inappropriate for Amazon’s business paraphernalia to block public access in park,” said Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Parks. “But even if it were placed somewhere out of the way, this is not an appropriate use of public property. Chicago’s parks should not be for sale.”
Here’s where the lockers are being installed around Chicago:
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