By Mary Jo Viero, President, Ridge Park Advisory Committee
Local organizations and residents have been voicing concern about the condition of the Ridge Park fieldhouse for many years. As the leadership of the Chicago Park District determines its budget for FY18 the rehabilitation of Ridge Park should be the top priority. The fieldhouse is an important part of our community, keeping the building in good repair should be expected. However, severe issues plague the facility including a leaky roof and rotting windows; the building is not ADA accessible; lighting is outdated and inefficient; and the kitchen, gymnasium and auditorium all need significant improvements.
Ridge Park draws over 6000 people annually for programming alone and consistently ranks 3rd among all 580 city parks for program participation. That does not include the 30,000+ people each year who gather at the park for community events like the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk, Ridge Run and Memorial Day Parade. Additionally, Ridge Park is home to the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association Gallery, a multi-million dollar art collection. Unfortunately, this collection is suffering damage from the leaking roof.
After being pushed back several times, the RPAC was told that work on the roof is supposed to begin in mid-October – if true this is great news for our park and community! We hope that the park gets the new roof it needs – The RPAC was formed to focus on the restoration and continued maintenance of the field house and the grounds, and we are determined to fight for what Ridge Park deserves. Sadly, as we all know a new roof is only the beginning and we ask that the community join the RPAC in standing up for Ridge Park.
On Sept. 19, 2017 members of the RPAC and the community (both young and old) gathered together at the Chicago Park District budget hearing to advocate for a complete facility restoration to save Ridge Park! While we recognize and respect the fact that managing a budget for hundreds of public parks in a large and diverse city is no easy task, and we’re grateful for recent improvements to the Ridge Park baseball fields and tennis courts, we believe major improvements are past due at this community treasure.
Please join us, there is strength in numbers! Demand that the Ridge Park Fieldhouse is treated like the treasure it is.
For information on how you can help, email Mary Jo Viero, firstname.lastname@example.org.