HUMBOLDT PARK — A Park District plan to upgrade old infrastructure in Humboldt Park’s namesake park has kept a popular bridge out of commission for more than six months, and officials say construction isn’t scheduled to start until summer.
A bridge on the western side of the park near the field house has been boarded up and inaccessible since fall as part of a larger plan to update the park’s bridges, Park District spokeswoman Michele Lemons said. Three other park bridges are also getting upgrades, but they remain accessible, Lemons said.
Lemons said materials must be manufactured and ordered to complete the repairs, which officials say they will start this summer. Because the bridges are historical, they require “specialized attention,” she said.
Lemons didn’t answer further questions about the scope of the project.
The months-long shutdown of the park bridge — marked with a large wooden sign — is irking some neighbors. They’re having a difficult time navigating the park with the bridge closed down, they said.
The bridge is a popular site for strolling and wedding pictures, and it provides easy access to the park’s formal garden, neighbor Gina Markon said.
“And then one day, last September, with no input from … the neighbors, the Park District throws up an ugly plywood barrier with a homemade ‘Closed’ sign scrawled like graffiti,” Markon said in an email. “No way would the Park District try this in Lincoln Park. Why are we treated differently? And why can’t we get an answer as to when it will be reopened?”
Neighbor Megan Osberger said the bridge is one of the park’s “main thoroughfares,” and neighbors have been forced to walk several additional blocks to get from one side of the park to the other during the shutdown.
“This is the only reliable place in the entire park to use restrooms, and it really cuts off people who live south of the park, like my family,” Osberger said in an email.
Other neighbors have taken to social media to air their frustrations.
Markon, who’s lived in Humboldt Park for more than 20 years, said the bridge shutdown — and the lack of communication around the project — is reminiscent of when the Park District abruptly closed the beloved Humboldt Park beach in 2015.
The city agency reopened the inland beach the following year after fierce pushback from neighbors and community leaders.
“A few years back, they closed our beach with no warning. They finally backed down and reopened after loud persistent protests. Why can’t the Park District treat Humboldt Park residents and users with the same respect that they allot to our friends further east in Lincoln Park?” Markon said.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: