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Neighborhoods Wed Mar 20 2013

Rogers Park Residents Give Thumbs Up to Touhy Park Renovation Plan

A group of about a dozen Rogers Park residents on Tuesday gave their stamp of approval to plans to renovate the playground at Touhy Park.

Michael Lange, a project manager for the Chicago Park District's planning and construction department, showed a group of residents gathered at the Touhy Park fieldhouse Tuesday night a possible site plan for the renovated playground. Lange said that two new sets of playground equipment - one designed for kids aged 2-5 and another for kids 5-12 - will be installed on the northeast side of the park.

Additionally, Lange said, existing equipment for kids aged 2-5 on the northwest side of the park will be refurbished and new picnic tables, a seesaw and a structure that looks like a car will be installed.

All told, Lange said, the renovation will cost about $450,000.

Money for the renovation will come from 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore's menu money, which is $1.3 million allotted annually to each of Chicago's 50 aldermen to spend at their discretion.

The project was actually voted on by ward residents during the 2011-2012 participatory budgeting process, said Moore, who hosted Tuesday's meeting. Participatory budgeting is a process by which aldermen allow residents of their wards to vote on how menu money is spent. In Chicago, only the 49th, 46th, 45th and 5th wards take part in the process,

Though the residents ultimately gave their approval to the plans presented by Lange, the proposed new play structure for 5-12 year old kids caused some residents in attendance to raise their eyebrows a bit. The proposed structure, according to the proposed site plan, is a spiderweb-looking combination of arches, as well as rope nets and plastic discs for climbing.

Some residents expressed concern that kids might prefer a more traditional platform-based structure. Lange disagreed, saying that he believed kids would enjoy the unique structure.

"Kids can sort of attack it any way they want," he said.

Lange said after the meeting that the renovations will likely begin in late June or early July and hopefully finished by September or early October.

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