There were looks of sheer mortification when I suggested that we need a 'community dig out' to get this field house started. What a media sight - neighbors save city money and dig out the foundation. That was nearly two years ago and I've seen many such looks since. That was before 'hired trucks' and the subsequent scandals that have floated to the top. Each month brings a higher over budget dollar amount. Many remember the big presentation in the spring of 2005, the promise of yes, this will be built by the Chicago Park District. I still maintain that people digging to preserve the integrity of promises on hold just might prompt them to get the show on the road. Anyone else there with a good digger? Remember, if you want something done right, do it yourself.
PS It is now October 2005
CHRONOLOGY FOR THE FIELD HOUSE PROJECT
Fall 1996 – community members started to plan for a community youth center.
April 1997 – Community members contact Alderman Moore, Loyola University, and various developers to float the idea of using money from other developments to fund the center.
May 1997 - Alderman Moore, in his State of the Ward address states the need for a youth center in the Ward.
June 1997 – Youth organizations met to dialogue, outlining concerns. Political leaders were targeted to help in the funding process. Possible sites, north of Howard Street, were explored.
July 1997 - Loyola architects drew up plans for a youth center after viewing possible sites.
Fall 1997 – Youth organizations met and promised to work collaboratively through all the processes and to get letters of support from their organizations. Alderman Moore met with all youth organizations and other community liaisons to introduce Rudy Mulder, would be developer of the Gateway Shopping Center who made a pledge of $500,000. that did not materialize.
Oct-Dec. 1997 - Loyola U. organization, CURL, undertakes a youth survey to get input.
Jan – April 1998 – CURL holds focus groups to gain additional input.
May 1998 – Highlights of North of Howard Youth recommendations were presented to the public.
Summer 1998 – Chicago Park District works with community focus groups on developing a plan for a park and field house.
- The Chicago Park District presented a plan for the 20,000 sq. ft. field house. It was formally accepted by Chicago Park District, Gale Local School Council and principal, and Alderman Joe Moore.
1998-2001 – Major funders step forward to underwrite the cost of the 16,000 Sq. Ft. one story field house: Alderman Joe Moore, State Rep. Julie Hamos, Sen. Carol Ronen, Seabury Foundation, Chicago Park District.
Oct. 2001 – Chicago Park District present a proposal to develop a “school-park partnership” utilizing part of Gale Academy and reducing the size of the “stand alone” field house to 9,000 sq. ft. The community demonstrated that this proposal would not work as school facilities are needed daily for recreation use.
Oct. 2002 – Chicago Park District states they would break ground “next spring” (2003), on the $4.6 million, 16,000 sq.ft.
Fall 2002 – Spring 2005. Three separate groundbreaking take place.
Fall 2004 – The Park District states that there are zoning issues that need to be resolved before putting the building out for bid.
Nov. 2004 – The Park District did an internal review which showed the project $1.5M over budget, and adjustments would need to be made to bring it in line with the budget.
March 2005 – NOHPAC and community members petition the Park Board to proceed with haste on the field house.
March 2005 - Community leaders meet with all the major CPD staff and the Mayors office to demand that CPD present the inal plans for review , and to present a final timeline –in writing - to the community Apr. 12, and to begin digging the hole in Sept. 2005 and complete in time for summer programming in 2006.
- CPD promised to take the shortfall ($1.5 M) out of CPD budget. They promise to: 1. complete the transfer of funds from CPD to Chicago Building Commission by summer. CBD promises to complete its bidding process by September and to begin digging in October 2005.
Apr. 2005 – CPD makes their presentation showing minor cosmetic adjustments to bring project into line with the budget.
Aug. 2005 - Chicago Park District and the Chicago Building Commission now informs NOHPAC that the project is now $1.8 million over budget, and the digging would start in NOVEMBER. NOHPAC states that CPD has the responsibility to make up the shortfall, and to keep their commitment to begin digging in October.