Since 2003, more than 50 requests for repairs and other improvements to Austin’s Moore Park by the park’s advisory council have gone unnoticed by the Chicago Park District, members charged at a community meeting held at the park’s fieldhouse on Aug. 17.
Since July of 2003, the Moore Park Advisory Council has made more than 50 written requests for landscaping improvements, repairs to the fieldhouse, improvements in park staffing, and increased community input for the park.
The 2003 requests were part of the advisory council’s Strategic Goals for Moore Park, 5085 W. Adams, for the next three years. Some repairs have only been done recently, said Moore Park Advisory Council President Karl Brinson-perhaps, he suggested, because of the new home and condominium construction going into the community.
Brinson said these were the most recent requests that have gone largely unnoticed. He said the council and residents have asked for improvements dating as far back as 1996.
Last Thursday’s meeting was attended by Ald. Ed Smith (28th Ward), 15th District Police Cmdr. Al Wysinger, officials from the Chicago Park District, and more than two dozen residents, who crammed inside a small meeting room inside the fieldhouse.
Some of the work order request items the council had asked for, according to a list provided to the Austin Weekly News by the council, included adding more garbage cans on park grounds, adding an indoor gymnasium to the fieldhouse area, and increasing park staff and work hours. Those requests, and many more, have not been met, said Brinson.
Jim Chronis, chief operating officer for the Chicago Park District, who attended the meeting, said the park district had not done a good job in responding to requests in a timely way, but said the district has tried to improve the process. Some work, he said, has been done, such as cleaning up areas around the park.
Chronis said the park district is scheduled to install new bleachers near the basketball courts, and to paint the fieldhouse in upcoming weeks. Chronis added that workers would come out to level the park’s playing field by this fall.
He said he saw at least 10 areas at the park and fieldhouse in need of repairs while at the meeting.
“We have been working desperately to work on some of these issues,” he said. “There are some things that we’ve done and some more projects that we have planned for the park.”
Brinson and most of the residents at the meeting, however, said what they’ve gotten mostly from the park district is empty promises.
“I have met and met and met, and I hate to see these people’s hearts broken again,” said Brinson. “We are constantly meeting and nothing is getting done.”
Gladys Williams, a park volunteer and member of the advisory council, said residents have written and called the park district for improvements, but those requests fell on deaf ears.
Among the park’s existing programs is a summer basketball tournament for youth. Williams said she and other organizers had asked for help to pay for uniforms, and for repairs to basketball courts and surrounding areas to no avail.
“When you walk in here, you don’t feel like this is your park,” she said. “We’ve asked the park district to use their equipment, which is really our equipment, and they’ve turned us down.”
Residents themselves have tried to keep the park and neighborhood in good shape.
“My mother, who is a senior, is out there picking up stuff,” said Cynthia Johnson, of the 5000 block of West Quincy. “We are all in the same boat. We want our homes to look nice.”
Ald. Smith said his office has asked for repairs to be done to the park.
Brinson, though, countered that it’s been the residents and council members who have been the real, and oftentimes only, advocates for the park.
“We have not been able to get any support in holding the people accountable for keeping the park looking the way it should,” he said.