Next Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m., South Lakeview and Roscoe Village residents will get a chance to check out the planned Burley Community Park at 1630 W. Barry Ave. The $500,000 project, which has sputtered through development plans since 2006, finally began moving forward last spring. Organizers hope to complete it by spring 2012.
“It’s been in the works for a while,” says Darcy DeWolfe, President of Friends of Burley Elementary. “Right now we are really attempting to communicate the plan to the community.”
First designed by Burley students in 2006 with non-profit assistance, the park space, currently a blacktop lot next to Burley Elementary owned by Chicago Public Schools, was originally fast-tracked for completion. It first received a big boost in 2007 when it was selected by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley to be a Campus Park, a joint CPS/Park District program that split park development costs between the city agencies.
But then the economy tanked in 2008, the Campus Park program was put on hold and the Burley Park languished. Finally, the Friends of Burley decided to take matters in their own hands in early 2011.
“We know the financial situation of the city,” said DeWolfe. “So we decided to move forward and get it done on our own.”
Last spring CPS built part of the plan, a new $100,000 playground on the southwest corner of the lot. They’ve also put another $20,000 into site surveys and other technical work. DeWolfe says Friends of Burley has already raised $125,000 and they need to raise an additional $255,000 to complete the plans.
“We’re hoping to install the track and field this summer,” says DeWolfe. “If we’re only able to raise part of [the funds], we’ll do that and the basketball court,” since those elements require ripping up large parts of the existing blacktop. The garden classroom and other green elements could come as part of a Phase Three, if necessary.