What is Friends of West Edgewater Park?:
- An Illinois non-profit corporation formed in 2010
- Formed and led by a group of all volunteer neighbors in the West Edgewater area
- Our mission: To transform the decaying eyesore of the Edgewater Medical Center site into an enduring asset of public, open, and green park space by building grassroots support, creating political will, raising public and private funds, and forging key partnerships.
What has Friends of West Edgewater Park done?:
- Raised the park idea with Alderman O’Connor, State Rep. Greg Harris, State Sen. Heather Steans, US Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and officials from the Chicago Park District & Senator Dick Durbin’s and Senator Mark Kirk’s offices.
- Built relationships with key park and open space organizations—Friends of the Parks, Openlands, and The Trust for Public Lands
- Raised awareness by talking to neighbors, staffing tables at community events, and a website and blog (www.westedgewaterpark.org).
- Ran a very successful referendum campaign:
o In November, 2010, we gathered 331 signatures to put a referendum question on the Feb 22nd ballot in five local precincts—roughly the area from Peterson to Berwyn and Clark to Ravenswood.
o We got the word out through canvassing, yard signs, church bulletins, and postcards
o On Feb 22nd, 87.5% of the community voted in favor of a park, 1150 people voted “yes.”
o This was an unequivocal statement of community support for a park. This landslide came despite Waveland Partners going door-to-door, trying to plant doubts and fears in people’s minds.
- Submitted several grant proposals and been awarded our first grant of $7000 to support our advocacy efforts.
Why do we need park space in the West Edgewater area?:
- Edgewater is a very dense community that suffers from a serious “open space deficit,” according to Chicago Park District studies. Chicago ranks last among major cities in the United States for park space per resident.
- The closest existing park space can only be reached by crossing major streets like Ashland, Clark or Ridge, which is difficult for both seniors and small children. Park space should be accessible by foot from all parts of the city. This park will solve this problem for approximately 12,000 residents in Chicago.
- We have an historic opportunity with the EMC site to reclaim the space for a public, common good. We will not get a chance like this again for generations, if ever.
Is the park idea really realistic?:
- Yes, it is. It will be difficult to do, sure, but it is very possible. Both Openlands and the Trust for Public Lands have lots of experience with complex real estate transactions and raising large sums of money.
- The park is as realistic, if not more so, than the proposal being pushed by Waveland Partners. It is important to understand:
o Waveland Partners is working for Dexia, the French bank that now owns the EMC property.
o Waveland’s job is to maximize Dexia’s return on the property, and therefore, they would like to increase the zoning of the property.
o Waveland does not intend to build anything—they are simply working to increase the zoning and sell the land at a higher profit to a developer, who may or may not build anything for another ten years or more.
o Dexia has already won a $124 million federal court judgment against the former owner of the EMC, Peter Rogan and his children.
- A park is much better in the long run for our neighborhood, property values, and quality of life than a huge, new dense development or another ten years with a decaying eyesore in our midst.
So what’s Friends of West Edgewater Park going to do next?:
- Along with WEAR, we will resist any zoning concessions or TIF dollars for Waveland Partners, Dexia or others who want to simply want to maximize profit from the EMC site.
- Continue developing our capacity to make this park happen. We will develop an action plan about how our vision can become a reality
- Continue to work closely with Openlands and the Trust for Public Lands to refine this action plan.
- Continue to identify major donors to approach once this action plan is complete, so that we have some private funds to complement the TIF, Park District or other public funds that we’ll need to complete the project.
How can I get involved?:
- Go to our website (www.westedgewaterpark.org) and sign up for our email list.
- Call or email our president, Craig Cernek, at 773-989-8938 or email@example.com to let us know how you’d like to help.
- Become a member of Friends of West Edgewater Park by making a donation on our website or by sending a check made payable to Friends of West Edgewater Park to our treasurer, Andrew Strand, at Friends of West Edgewater Park, c/o Andrew Strand, 5821 N. Paulina Street, Chicago, IL 60660 USA. Andrew may also be reached at 773-234-5263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.