The award is for, “Their successful moonlight canoe event, volunteer work days and for advocacy to protect Richard Clark Park from a roadway expansion,” according to Friends of The Parks.
“We spoke out very forcefully against moving Rockwell [Avenue] from its current location, to a location closer to the River, which was proposed in an effort to fit a full sized baseball stadium inside the park,” said Advisory Board President Bill Donahue. “Our plan shows the baseball field going in south of the Lane Tech stadium.”
Ten years ago the Advisory Board helped raise funds to build a canoe launch in the park, and in 2010 the group raised funds to construct a BMX bike course in the park. Since the group was founded in 1995, approximately 10 acres have been added to the park, including a large lot just west of Lane Tech High School and six acres of woods.
Today the canoe launch includes private users as well as canoe rentals and outings through Chicago River Canoe & Kayak which uses the launch about 150 days a year, according to Chicago River Canoe owner Ryan Chew.
“We used about 2,000 waivers last year,” said Chew, “which can account for a single person in a kayak, a family or set of friends going together, or an entire summer camp trip. I’d guess that 2,000 waivers may account for 10,000 people.”
Chew has also seen nature return to the park in recent years.
“I feel like I’ve seen a’predator cycle’ in the park—early on, we saw a lot of rabbits. Then we began getting accounts of a fox, and saw fewer rabbits,” said Chew. “A couple years after the foxes, we had a coyote or two around, and I never saw rabbits, whether because they were gone or because they were much more cautious. This summer, we didn’t hear much about predators, and the rabbits were once again fearless. But in the winter, I’ve again seen coyotes in the area, so we’ll see.”
The Clark Park Advisory Board meets at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at Paul Revere Park, 2509 W. Irving Park Rd.