On Tuesday June 20th at 10am, the Chicago City Council committee on Housing and Real Estate is expected to approve an ordinance to acquire seven parcels of land to create a new children’s playlot and access point for the proposed 3-mile Bloomingdale Trail and Greenway. The trail will sit atop an elevated railroad embankment currently owned by Canadian Pacific Railway, which the city expects to acquire by the end of the year. Design and construction of the trail will take several years and is still dependent on larger public and private funding commitments. This one site alone when transformed into a park, will serve 4,260 children under the age of 10 who live within one half-mile.
Local advocacy organization Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail identified the vacant lots at 1800-1808 N. Whipple and 1805-1807 N. Albany as a potential park space in 2003 after holding community clean-up days at the site. Although signs promoting new homes to be built on the lots soon appeared, they persisted and forged a partnership with Trust for Public Land to purchase the land for later transfer to the city. Moving quickly, they negotiated a purchase agreement with a local real estate developer and hope to close on the sale later this summer.
“Although there are two parks adjacent to the rail line in Bucktown, there is little publicly-owned land along the proposed trail in Logan Square and Humboldt Park, said Josh Deth, President of Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail. “Preserving the elevated right-of-way that crosses over 38 city streets is our number one priority, but to turn that into a good trail, we need frequent ramps to get up and down. If they have access, local residents will use the trail and help maintain it and keep it safe.”
Having worked three years to raise awareness about the trail, Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail is applauding the city’s action, even though much work remains. An environmental assessment of the embankment is nearing completion and a planning is also underway for a design competition to jumpstart the next phase of the project. “The city’s move to preserve land now for future trail access is exactly the kind of leadership it will take to get this trail built.” adds Deth.