The construction of a multi-purpose community park and garden on the grounds of Burley School, 1630 W. Barry Ave., is moving along and should be completed within the next 12 months, according to the school’s principal.
Though plans for the project have been in the works for the future Burley Community Park since 2006, there have been several setbacks. But now in the third of three construction phases, Catherine Plocher, in her first full year as principal, believes the only hurdle left is funding.
“It would be really nice, ideally, [to be completed] by the end of next summer,” Plocher said. “Now if we raise enough money and get the grants that we’re hoping to get and things like that, it might be possible.”
The school is currently waiting on two potential grants that would help fund a vegetable garden and an outdoor classroom area where students could study plants native to the area.
“We’ve been decently successful [at obtaining grant money],” Plocher said. “The one for the vegetable garden we’re very optimistic about.”
A basketball court, tetherball courts, a track and artificial turf area have already been completed. A new water fountain was also installed recently.
Each phase of construction is laid out in the same way. First, funding must be secured, and then the building can get underway. The first phase concerned the pre-school play area and the second involved the track and basketball and tetherball courts.
The initial cost for the project was estimated at $500,000 and hasn’t changed, Plocher said, though there have been tweaks to the plan. That money has come from public funding, grants, corporate gifts and private donations.
The public funds portion comes from Chicago Public Schools, which has matched some of the money the school has raised. Since CPS has a stake in the construction, it has some say in the project as well, Plocher said, such as which vendors are chosen for different aspects of construction.
“All the construction has to go through the Board [of Education] vendors,” Plocher said. “But then we have choices within that.”
As construction has gone on, there have been more community members using the facilities, Plocher said.
“The community is really using it and embracing it,” Plocher said. “It’s more than just some playground equipment.