LINCOLN SQUARE — Longstanding flooding problems at Winnemac Park could finally get fixed if City Council finalizes $2 million in tax increment financing funds to upgrade the park’s infrastructure.
The park’s baseball fields become muddy and unplayable after rain, which has been a problem for at least 10 years, Amundsen High School’s baseball coaches have said. Players and coaches must prep the fields themselves to safely practice with the mud, they previously said.
To address this, a measure to renovate Winnemac Park by installing an artificial turf infield with grading and stormwater improvements to help with the drainage of the baseball outfield and soccer field was introduced to City Council last month.
The construction will be paid for using $2 million from the Western Avenue (North) Tax Increment Financing district, Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) said.
Winnemac Park would also receive lighting upgrades for its fields and pathways, two refurbished tennis courts and new pathway paving, Vasquez said.
The TIF money expires at the end of 2024, so construction would have to wrap by then, Vasquez said.
“I would anticipate some of the design work beginning this year and potentially some of the actual construction to start at the end of the year. But it definitely needs to be completed by the end of next year,” Vasquez said.
The ordinance needs approval from the City Council finance committee and the full council, which could happen as soon as this month, said Park District spokesperson Irene Tostado.
City Council’s next meeting is April 19, while the Committee on Finance will meet April 13 and 17.
Amundsen High School officials said they have followed the TIF approval process and didn’t yet have a timeline for how they would manage the proposed construction at the park with students’ games and practices.
An earlier proposal for more TIF money included the addition of a new dog park at Winnemac as part of the improvements. Park District officials rejected the plan after neighbors complained, spokesperson Michele Lemons said.
“The district must balance the interests and needs of many diverse users and will continue to work with the community to explore other options for dedicated space where dogs can safely run off-leash,” Lemons said.
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