WBEZ | field house http://www.wbez.org/tags/field-house Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago Public Schools demolishes ramshackle, but symbolic, field house http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-demolishes-ramshackle-symbolic-field-house-108446 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMAG1786web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In a move that shocked parents and community residents, Chicago Public Schools demolished an elementary school field house that activists fought fiercely to save three years ago.</p><p>The jaws of two giant excavators tore into the little wooden structure on Saturday morning and quickly razed it.</p><p>About 50 activists, teachers, Whittier parents and students &mdash;some of whom had spent all of Friday night outside the field house to stave off a possible demolition&mdash; looked on from behind fencing erected just 12 hours before. Some cried.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really, really appalling the way the city of Chicago does stuff like this,&rdquo; said Nelson Soza, director of Pilsen Alliance. &ldquo;In the middle of the night, on a Friday night. So that people cannot see and confront what&rsquo;s going on.&rdquo;</p><p>The dilapidated field house was the scene of a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/unfiltered-chicago-board-education-regular-meeting-october-27-2010" target="_blank">43-day</a> sit-in <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704789404575524183523819788.html" target="_blank">in 2010</a>. Parents and activistis said at the time that they wanted to save the structure so it could be <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/end-whittier-sit-close-hand" target="_blank">turned into a library</a> for the school, which didn&rsquo;t have one. The sit-in drew attention to the fact that <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-10-26/news/ct-met-cps-libraries-20101025_1_elementary-schools-charter-schools-library-or-media-center" target="_blank">more than 160 Chicago Public Schools lacked libraries</a>.</p><p>Book donations from around the country poured in, and the push to save &ldquo;La Casita&rdquo; became a symbol for activists fighting&nbsp; for local control of schools and self-determination of educational priorities. Architects, working pro-bono, drew up remodeling plans that never came to be. CPS documents indicate Whittier school now has a library&mdash;but parents say that is untrue. They say children have books in their classrooms, but still no library.</p><p>Friday night, crews pulled books and computers out of the field house. Activists and parents surrounded the structure to prevent its demolition. Several people were arrested Friday night. Ten were arrested Saturday morning as the bulldozers closed in.</p><p>Parents, teachers and community residents say they had no idea the demolition was coming. A press secretary for Ald. Danny Solis would not say how far in advance the alderman knew of the demolition. Many likened the demolition to former Mayor Richard Daley&rsquo;s nighttime bulldozing of Meig&rsquo;s Field in 2003.</p><p>But Chicago Public Schools spokespeople disputed that parallel, saying the building was unsafe and required CPS to take &ldquo;immediate action,&rdquo; with school beginning soon. Teachers report to work Monday, classes begin August 26. The district notes it only began cleaning asbestos Friday night and did not begin the demolition until the morning.</p><p>A structural engineer&rsquo;s report dated August 12 found the building had fallen into deeper disrepair over the past three years. Problems listed include a &ldquo;substantially deteriorated&rdquo; roof structure and water ponding above the fluorescent lights in the drop ceiling. &ldquo;The building is in a very advanced state of deterioration,&rdquo; the report concluded, and is &ldquo;not safe for occupancy.&rdquo;</p><p>Community organizer Soza says &ldquo;La Casita,&rdquo; however dilapidated, had become a symbol of resistance and was being used as a parent and community center and library.</p><p>Not everyone in the neighborhood was sad to see La Casita go.</p><p>&ldquo;For over a year, the roof on that house&mdash;when there&rsquo;s a wind--it folds over,&rdquo; said Estela Vasquez, who lives across the street. &ldquo;Kids hang out by that little house; it&rsquo;s a danger to the children who play in that park,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools says it plans to begin work immediately on a new playground, turf field and basketball courts to be located on the playlot where the field house once stood. The new fields will be paid for using TIF funds, according to CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll.</p><p>Since late 2009, many in the community have feared <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/whittier-elementary-pilsen-library-field-house/Content?oid=2699244" target="_blank">a plan</a> floated by nearby Jesuit high school Cristo Rey that would have transformed the Whittier playground, parking lot, and field house into an artificial-turf soccer field. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re opposed to public dollars supporting private schools,&rdquo; said activist Gema Gaete.</p></p> Sun, 18 Aug 2013 02:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-demolishes-ramshackle-symbolic-field-house-108446 Chinatown closer to new field house, library http://www.wbez.org/story/25th-ward/chinatown-closer-new-field-house-library <p><p>Chinatown residents are inching closer to winning some city resources that they&rsquo;ve lobbied for during the last several years.&nbsp;Chicago&rsquo;s City Council <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/news.detail/object_id/00c4ff41-589f-47dd-93df-17a5e68a8219.cfm">allocated funding</a> in September for a new field house to replace one that was torn down nearly 50 years ago. More recently, the <a href="http://www.chipublib.org/">Chicago Public Library</a> and city officials identified a site for a new library branch and have started moving to acquire the property.&nbsp;The progress comes just as Chinese-Americans observe their 100-year anniversary in Chicago&rsquo;s South Side Chinatown.</p><p>The field house has been a particular sore point for young and elderly Chinatown residents alike. &ldquo;When I started fighting for this thing I had children,&rdquo; said Leonard Louie, President of the Ping Tom Memorial Park Advisory Council. &ldquo;And I think today my grandchildren are old enough to be able to use it. That's how long it's been.&rdquo;</p> <div>Louie himself used to play basketball at the old field house at Hardin Park, before the state tore it down in 1962 to expand the Dan Ryan Expressway. At the time, said Louie, Chinatown residents were promised that they&rsquo;d soon get another field house. Instead, Louie and other residents say children now often play volleyball over sidewalk fences, because there&rsquo;s no proper facility or community center. &ldquo;It's definitely a problem because you just have kids hanging out on the street and looking for things to do,&rdquo; said Louie. &ldquo;You're in a situation where you're just asking for trouble.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Chicago City Council approved a $10 million allocation from the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dcd/tif/narratives/T_037_RiverSouthFA.pdf">River South TIF District</a> to finally build the facility near the southern end of <a href="http://pingtompark.org/Welcome%20to%20Ping%20Tom%20Park.html">Ping Tom Memorial Park</a>.&nbsp;At that price, park leaders will likely have to pare back their original vision for the facility.&nbsp;&ldquo;The original plans for the field house were to include a natatorium, which is an indoor swimming pool,&rdquo; said Louie.&nbsp;But park district officials estimate that could cost anywhere from $15 million to $18 million. More recent field houses, like the <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/parks.results.cfm">Taylor-Lauridsen Playground Park</a> and <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/parks.detail/object_id/cc227392-429c-42df-adec-bdb4023e94de.cfm">Jesse Owens Park</a>, did not include swimming pools, and ran just below $10 million. Still, Louie hopes whatever the city builds could be expanded to include a swimming pool later. He and other park leaders are also exploring the possibility of raising additional money to fund the natatorium.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Calls for a new library have also reached the right ears. Though the current Chinatown library is far from large, it has among the highest circulation rates in the city. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very literate community,&rdquo; said Chicago Public Library spokesman Ruth Lednicer.&nbsp;For a long time, movement toward building a larger and newer facility was stymied by an inability to find a proper site. But now Chinatown and city officials agree that a privately-owned lot on the southwest corner of Wentworth Ave and Archer Ave holds enough space.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Right now, the parcel holds a parking lot and a small grocery store, both owned by the same person. The city&rsquo;s development committee recently approved a preliminary move to acquire the property through eminent domain.&nbsp;That matter is expected to come before the City Council at its meeting on February 9.&nbsp;But officials will also continue to negotiate with the property owner, who expressed an interest in jointly developing the land with the city to include a library.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Meanwhile, <a href="http://www.dannysolis.org/">Alderman Daniel Solis</a> (25th Ward) said he&rsquo;s working on getting a TIF district approved to fund the construction of the library.&nbsp;&ldquo;Specifically how much, it&rsquo;s too early to tell,&rdquo; said Solis. &ldquo;But the TIF would also look at opening up opportunities for other developments in the area.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>These developments are perhaps some of the early fruits of a recent political awakening in Chicago&rsquo;s Chinatown.&nbsp;C.W. Chan, a founder of the <a href="http://www.caslservice.org/">Chinese American Service League</a>, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/politics/chinatown-looks-centennial-aims-political-clout">told WBEZ</a> in May that as the Chinese-American population in Chinatown and its surrounding areas grew quickly during the last twenty years, the community&rsquo;s needs grew, too. &ldquo;Recently the community has really been working very hard together to really take an inventory of our community needs,&rdquo; said Chan, &ldquo;and to see whether we can really have a much better working relationship with our elected officials to present our needs and to secure the kind of resources that we need in the community.&rdquo; &nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 21 Jan 2011 21:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/25th-ward/chinatown-closer-new-field-house-library