Community organizers working to renovate the Filbert Playlot, 1822 W. Larchmont Ave., got a rude shock from the Chicago Park District on Monday when they learned that $100,000 promised by former Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th) would not be forthcoming.
It turns out that the $100,000 Schulter had committed in January was supposed to come from 2011 “menu money” funds, not 2010 funds, and because Schulter is no longer the 47th Ward Alderman, the Park District says the funds transfer is off.
“As soon as we heard Ald. Schulter was stepping down, we were very concerned about the committment he made,” said the President of Friends of Filbert Playlot Park, Emily Klingensmith. “Was it 2010 or 2011 money?”
Klingensmith estimates the Filbert renovation will cost between $300,000 and $350,000. For park renovations, the Park District typically requires the community to fund a third of the cost and for another government agency to fund a third before the Park District will commit the remaining amount. Other than the $100,000 Schulter had supposedly committed, the Filbert group has raised $22,700 on their own.
Friends of Filbert Playlot Park, as well as this publication, were led to believe that the funding was coming from 2010 funds. Klingensmith provided Center Square Journal with a February 8, 2011 email from a Schulter staffer stating, “Beth O’Reilly of the City Budget Office has made the necessary arrangements for the monetary transfer of funds from the 2010 menu to Filbert Play Lots project.”
Thinking that her group was well on the way to fully funding their end of the project, Klingensmith contacted the Park District last week to ask when a landscape architect might be hired to work on the design. Instead, on Monday the Park District forwarded her a copy of Schulter’s actual funding committment letter from January 11, 2011, stating that he wanted to commit 2011 funds for the playlot. [A copy of that letter can be found at the bottom of this article.]
Schulter announced his retirement on January 17, 2011.
Now Klingensmith is hoping that recently installed Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) will recommit funds from the 2011 menu money.
“We are looking into 2011 menu allocations. We are also inquiring about pending 2010 menu projects. I support the Filbert project and I am trying to get a complete picture,” said Ald. Pawar via text message this afternoon.
“We’re appreciative of Ald. Schulter and all his support,” said Klingensmith. ”We’re just surprised by this. He was helpful to us.”