A North Austin park could become one of the latest used by the city to house migrants and asylum-seekers.
Ald. Chris Taliaferro of the 29th Ward has called on residents to attend what he called an urgent community meeting to discuss the proposed use of Amundsen Park as a migrant shelter. That meeting is Tuesday night.
In a statement, the alderman said the city informed him that a decision had been made to use the park to house approximately 200 migrants on Sept. 29.
Representatives of the Mayor’s office, the Chicago Police Department, and the Chicago Park District were invited to attend the meeting, according to a post shared by the aldermanic office on social media. About half a dozen residents quickly rejected the proposal on social media, with comments that ranged from “absolutely not” to comments questioning why unhoused Chicago residents have not received the same amount of attention and resources as migrants.
Nearly a week before, Taliaferro told this publication that he rejects the idea of using parks as migrant shelters. In an interview, Taliaferro cautioned against using parks to set up base camps to house asylum-seekers, as proposed by the city earlier in September.
“I want to keep the function and purpose of the parks intact,” said Taliaferro, adding that park users, including young children, women, adults and seniors, should be able to safely use parks for recreation and exercise.
“I want to caution the city against using our parks to house anyone,” he said.
At the time, Taliaferro said he was not aware of any city proposals to house migrants in the 29th Ward in park facilities or base camps, he said.
“I could not support a tent city in the parks for obvious reasons, but I don’t believe this ward offers any area the size is needed to house 500 to 1000 migrants,” he said.
The 16-acre park houses a fieldhouse with a gym, fitness center and meeting rooms, as well as outdoor baseball, football, soccer, volleyball and basketball facilities. Children, youth and adult programming take place, according to the Chicago Park District’s website. At the time of publication, it was unclear if park programming would be halted or whether the use of facilities would be restricted.
The Chicago Park District referred our questions to the Office of Emergency Management and Communications who did not respond by deadline. The Mayor’s Office could not be reached by deadline.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at Amundsen Park, 6200 W. Bloomingdale Ave.