Filbert Playlot Makes It Into 2012 Parks Budget, Now Racing To Match City Funds

By Mike Fourcher | Thursday, July 21, 2011

Filbert Playlot. Photo courtesy of Friends of Filbert Playlot Park.

Supporters of the Filbert Playlot renovation, 1820 W. Larchmont Ave., received two good pieces of news this past week: The park made it into the 2012 Chicago Parks District Capital Plan and they received a report from Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) that the Park District will allow them to break the renovation into two phases. The phasing plan effectively cuts in half the amount of money needed for the community group to start work on a new playground.

“They have us check-marked in the design phase,” reports Emily Klingensmith, President of The Friends of Filbert Playlot Park. “[Which includes] preparing for construction documents and putting it to bid. We’re all interested in fast-forwarding this along before the menu money disappears.”

Klingensmith is referring to the 2010 Aldermanic menu money committed by former Ald. Eugene Schulter, part of an annual pot of $1.3 million each City Council member has available for various capital projects in their ward. If it is not used by the end of this year, the money committed by Schulter will revert back to the city’s general fund and away from Filbert Playlot.

The Park District also has a “third, third and a third” policy. When communities want a new park facilities that is not part of regular Park District renovations, the community must privately raise a third of the cost, then find state or city fund for the renovation before the Park District will kick in the final third of the cost. Filbert’s total renovation is expected to cost about $300,000. So far Friends of Filbert have raised $23,000.

“This phasing schedule is unusual for [the Park District]. From what I hear from Ald. Pawar they’re interesting in it because they don’t want to lose this Aldermanic menu money,” says Klingensmith.

According to Klingensmith, the Park District has offered to phase renovations by first demolishing the current playground and laying down sod, as the least expensive option at $60,000, which would use the funds the park group has already raised along with the two-thirds match from the parks and menu money.

Klingensmith says the Park District is preparing two additional plans for $90,000 and $150,000 budgets, just in case they’re able to raise more funds by year end.

Now that they’re in the Park District’s official budget, Kligensmith thinks they’ll be eligible for more grants, such as Cubs Care. This fall Friends of Chase Park is also splitting proceeds from their Midnight Circus, which last year raised $16,000. They hope to raise funds at the August 13 Larchmont Block Party and through their new “buy a brick” program.

The Friends of Filbert Playlot is hosting a community meeting this Saturday, July 23, at Filbert Playlot at 10:00 a.m.

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