Yes I believe we have to have a balanced approach to development and maintenance of our parks.
Downtown beautification projects are crucial--and sometimes the more obvious component of
park and landscaping improvements neighborhood parks, boulevards, urban gardens, and other green spaces and projects also contribute greatly to the vibrancy and health of the city. They help to foster a sense of pride and place in our “city of neighborhoods.” They contribute to community
building as spaces where residents play, gather, and learn. For example, the beautiful boulevards and parks of the Logan Square and Humboldt Park communities--which I served as executive director of the non-profit Association House social service agency and that I represented for years in the state senate--represent significant amenities for neighborhood residents. These amenities and community-building efforts are improving the quality of life and attracting new investment and represent very high priorities as part of building healthy, sustainable communities. Evidence of my personal commitment to such projects dates back to my tenure as executive director of Association House, during which time I spearheaded a park project. We hired a landscape architect to design a play lot and landscaping on our non-profit’s property to provide safe and attractive play space for our children and our community. Later, as a state legislator, I collaborated with community groups working to add green space to the neighborhoods I represented. We successfully brought funding to a number of play lots and a new community park. As a mayor facing a severe budget crisis, I certainly will have to discern which new capital projects are necessary and which may need to be deferred. However, I will make it a top priority to access federal, state, philanthropic, and corporate dollars to continue to maintain the amenities we have in place and to ensure Chicago’s position as a world class, beautiful, and green city. In fact, I am especially concerned that there are federal dollars for greening projects that we are
currently leaving on the table, especially for urban agriculture and other related job creation.