AVONDALE — Following a chorus of criticism, Amazon will not be installing any more delivery lockers in Chicago parks while the Chicago Park District reviews the company’s plans.
Amazon came under fire late last week for placing lockers on sidewalks in Brands Park and the Forest Glen Playlot, partially blocking walkways and preventing people from easily passing through the public spaces.
Photos of the lockers went viral after Ald. Rossana Rodriguez (33rd), whose ward includes Brands Park, spoke out against the Avondale setup at 3259 N. Elston Ave. Ald. Samantha Nugent (39th) also pushed back against the one in the playlot, 5073 W. Berwyn Ave. Both were removed over the weekend.
Now, the Park District is working “to ensure [the lockers] are installed in areas that are not obstructing pathways or restricting access to park activities, while providing easy accessibility for both customers and delivery drivers,” Chicago Park District Spokesperson Irene Tostado said in a statement. “As a result, locker installations are paused until the review is completed.”
The uproar about the lockers’ placement renewed scrutiny on a plan to place dozens of lockers in parks throughout the city.
About half the lockers have been installed since December 2020 but the remaining ones are on hold, Tostado said Monday. Park District officials initially said they were planned for 68 parks but an updated list Tostado provided Monday shows 102 total lockers are part of the deal.
No other lockers are scheduled to be removed at this time, Tostado said.
News of the lockers prompted broader concerns about Amazon’s presence in public parks and the propriety of using public space for private profit. The retail behemoth has faced widespread criticism for its poor treatment of its workers and grueling workplace conditions. Billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos also has come under heavy scrutiny.
About 1,900 people have signed an online petition urging city officials to “keep our parks community spaces free from predatory businesses like Amazon.”
But Tostado said the lockers are “being placed in parks as an added offering to our park patrons and community members in areas where package deliveries are challenging due to various reasons, including high density of multi-unit residences, lack of secure porch areas and/or high areas of theft.”
So far, more than 30,000 packages have been delivered through 49 lockers, she said.
It is unclear how much revenue the city is collecting from the lockers. Tostado didn’t answer questions asking for specific figures, but said the lockers will “enhance the use of the parks and provide comfort and convenience to patrons while assuring reasonable revenue to the Park District.”
“The District is continuously exploring opportunities to grow non-tax revenue streams to support parks and programs citywide,” she said.
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