Do you remember 1988? A gallon of gasoline cost 91 cents. Rain Man cleaned up at the Oscars. NASA launched the Hubble space telescope. And the Chicago Park District renovated the playground at Hamlin Park, 3035 N. Hoyne Ave.
Twenty-four years later, gas has topped $4, Tom Cruise and NASA have both lost their mojo, but the Hamlin Park playground hasn’t changed a bit. That’s why the Hamlin Park Advisory Council formally launched “Habitat for Hamlin,” a drive to raise at least $200,000 to upgrade the park’s kids play area. HPAC’s plan was a major topic of discussion at the Hamlin Park Neighbors’ Spring Social, held Monday night at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont Ave.
One look at the playground and the need for renovation is clear: The equipment was not designed with specific age groups in mind, and much of it has been faded by decades of exposure to the elements. It all rests on a surface of wood chips that has endured years of moisture and animal waste.
The Council estimates a new playground with soft-surface flooring, a water feature and a public art installation will cost between $600,000 and $800,000 to build. The Chicago Park District will foot one-third of the bill, and Council leaders say they’re working to obtain another third from governmental sources. The Council hopes to collect the remainder from members of the community; board members have taken the lead, each committing $500 to the project.
Members of the Hamlin Park Neighbors board also have pledged $500 each, which corresponds to the “Arctic” level on the Council’s sponsorship guide levels, ranging from “City Slicker” ($100) to “Jungle” ($10,000). Donors at the $500 level and above will be recognized through a large work of public art being commissioned for the playground. Donations are tax deductible through the Council’s affiliation with Friends of the Parks. Habitat for Hamlin has already received a boost from events that include the Council’s first-ever Easter egg hunt, tie-ins with local businesses such as HomeMade Pizza, and the upcoming staging of Circus In The Parks in September.
Council members are surveying neighbors and people in the community about what they’d like to see in a new playground. The survey can be found on the Advisory Council’s website.