Still Chase-ing the Dream, One Tennis Net at a Time

By Patty Wetli | Monday, April 23, 2012

Chase Park Advisory Council helped fund playground renovations. Credit: Patty Wetli

Having checked a number of big-ticket items off its to-do list, including playground renovations, the Chase Park Advisory Council (CPAC) is heading back to the drawing board.

“Now what do we want to do?” Margaret O’Conor, a CPAC board member, asked attendees at a forum held last week.

On the council’s wish list, under the category of “pipe dreams”: land acquisition and a LEED-certified building. Other park patrons aimed slightly lower. New tennis court nets. A dog-friendly area. Playground time set aside for children with special needs. More garbage bins.

It’s this coupling of big-picture thinking and attention to smaller details that has made CPAC, which formed in 2007, particularly effective in bringing improvements to Chase Park, 4701 N. Ashland Ave., whether raising funds for new bleachers or a photocopier.

A recent case in point: For the past three years, AT&T has maintained a “temporary” cellphone tower on the park’s property. As the company negotiated for a permanent facility, located in a less intrusive section of the park, CPAC worked with the Park District to insert a number of benefits for Chase into the terms of the agreement.

“We took a collaborative approach,” said O’Conor. “You’re taking up this space in our park, what can you do for us?”

As a result, AT&T is footing the bill for fencing around the park’s community garden, benches, and lighting for the tennis courts, which will make the courts playable past dusk (though not darkness).

With a proven track record at Chase, CPAC is now branching out to lend a hand to the park’s satellite playlots, part of the group’s pay-it-forward philosophy. In 2011, CPAC partnered with Filbert to raise $9,000 for playlot improvements; this year the council is extending a hand to Gooseberry and Aster.

As always, the council remains mindful that improvements serve all manner of constituents, with full accessibility a keystone of many of its projects. Chase recently served as a pilot site for a special recreation program that continues to blossom; it now boasts a full-time staff member and accommodates adults as well as children with disabilities. “We have all kinds of options for people,” said Katie Fearon-Peon, Park District supervisor at Chase.

To maintain its momentum, CPAC, which has been operating under the umbrella of the Parkways Foundation, decided to file for 501 (c) status as a nonprofit. “It’s going to give us a lot more flexibility and allow us to apply for and receive grants,” explained O’Conor. “It’s good news.”

Update on mosaic mural

As Center Square Journal reported in February, a mosaic mural intended to decorate the exterior of the Chase Park fieldhouse was torn down mid-construction by the Park District, which claimed there were issues with the way the mosaics were being applied to the building’s brick. Fearon-Peon reported that the project is being restarted.

“We have secured the additional funding we need to do it the way the Park District wants it,” she said. Work is scheduled to begin in mid-June and wrap up by August, with After School Matters overseeing the students working on the mural. Though she has yet to set a date for the event, Fearon-Peon announced that members of the community would be invited to design their own mosaic tiles and place them on the wall.

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  • f777982

    Way to go CPAC

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