If you head over to the north side of Chicago’s Grant Park, just east of Millennium Park, you will discover that all the trees have been chopped down, and the tennis courts and playground demolished. This is to make way for Maggie Daley Park, named in honor of the late former first lady of Chicago. According to the Park District’s Web Site, the cost of this whole project is estimated to be 55 million dollars. The site reports that the cost of the Park will be funded with a combination of private and public funds. It does not state how much will be paid by private contributions, nor does it state the source of the public funds.
I really question if this is the right time for something like this. Our city and state is facing a crisis on so many fronts. The crime and murder rate is out of control and rising every day, but the police department is being cut. Chicago is also facing a huge budget crisis. When the city is going bankrupt and we have a murder rate higher then Sao Paulo, Brazil, is it really the right time to be building a new park –especially when the old park that they are tearing up to build this is just fine?
The Project will be completed in 2015 and supposedly will include a skating rink ribbon, a rock climbing wall and new trees. This massive expenditure is being justified on the basis that there is a leak in the underground Monroe Street parking garage, which requires the trees be cut down to fix the leak. Would it have just been cheaper to just fix the leak instead of tearing apart the whole park and creating a new one?
Is this really the kind of thing that we should be funding during a budget crisis and a rising crime rate? Will it cost much more than projected, like the cost overruns of Millennium Park? Unfortunately, it’s the “Chicago Way”, and while our crime rate goes up and our city goes bankrupt, don’t worry, at least Maggie Daley has a park named after her.