Dear Alderman O’Connor:
I very much enjoyed the opportunity to meet with you and key politicians at the Budlong Library on Lincoln Avenue on October 14, 2010. Thanks very much for setting up this meeting and coordinating it. Your assistance is very much appreciated. Again, I also thank you for your various efforts over the years in making the 40th Ward a much improved place and dramatically improving the quality of life here, especially vis-a-vis Rogers Park where I grew up, not very far.
Obviously, the major question that emerged during the meeting was funding for the park that our committee, Friends of West Edgewater Park, has been working very hard to achieve over the last 6+ months. A vital first step in this process is to get your full support and endorsement of the transformation of the EMC Medical Center/Hospital into a full park/green space. We believe, at this juncture, we have very strong support, not only from WEAR, but adjacent communities as I mentioned at the meeting. An important first step will be to utilize the existing TIF funds and leverage these as completely as possible to demolish the existing hospital structure and begin construction of the park. At the same time we will solicit, very aggressively, private and public funding for this area so as to complete the park and maintain it over the years.
You indicated, during our meeting, that approximately $400,000.00 from the TIF has already been spent. We would kindly request that you give us an accounting on this since our community here is paying into this TIF and would like to be fully aware of expenditures that take place, especially since we want to see these go towards services which are initially a key part of making this park happen. Please kindly have your office send us an accounting on the initial $400,000.00 TIF expenditure. As you said at the meeting, there are certain people (and we think this is a relatively small minority) that do not fully support the idea of a park. However, we think these are relatively few and far between.
Thus, we would hope to soon receive your complete support and endorsement of our organizations position to put a park into this space as well as WEAR and the surrounding community groups. We believe, as Tim Mitchell mentioned, that utilizing only part of this space for a park would not be sufficient because the parcel is just about large enough for a park to begin with. Therefore, we are requesting that you kindly confirm, to the fullest extent possible, your support and endorsement of a park and make it clear to us and WEAR, if possible, in written form, that you have now taken this position. We think that this is a key issue with the upcoming aldermanic elections.
Thanks very much once again for your consideration and assistance in this matter.
Yours very truly,
Jim Donovan, Spokesperson
Friends of West Edgewater Park