Welcome to the January 2011 J.P.A.C. Newsletter on line, vol. 18, no. 1

Jackson Park/JPAC home. hydepark.org/parks/index.html

Published by Jackson Park Advisory Council, a recognized advisory body to the Chicago Park District, Chicago Illinois

Editor Gary Ossewaarde. Hosted by hydepark.org, website of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (owner) by OnShore Communications.


Jackson Park Advisory Council December 13 2010 meeting minutes

Interim president Louise McCurry convened the meeting at 7:30 pm, a quorum being present. Excused absence: Treasurer Dwight Powell. Minutes of the November meeting were presented by Gary Ossewaarde and approved as distributed. There was no financial report. Members and attendees introduced themselves and their park interests and several submitted their membership applications at the meeting.

Election of Officers. Procedures were explained and ballots were distributed to qualified voters. Elected to a one-year term: Louise McCurry, President; Toshia Booker-Blakeley, Vice President; Gary Ossewaarde, Secretary; Dwight Powell, Treasurer. Ballots were counted by Kevin Quinn and Ram Nair and results announced later in the meeting.

Announcements on trees and natural areas. McCurry announced that lost and at-end-of-their-lifetime willows along the lagoon will be replaced, thus following Frederick Law Olmsted’s template and vision of vista along the lagoons.
Trees near Cornell/57th Drive (Museum curve) that were removed because of poor condition will be replaced with trees removed for construction in another park or otherwise having generous diameters.

A homeless person has returned, who has been observed setting fires under the Darrow Bridge in trash cans taken from elsewhere in the park. The situation has been reported to proper authorities and such will receive regular council monitoring. Bridge condition was examined by an ironwork expert and shown to CPD.

Ample birds have been reported on Wooded Island, particularly in underbrush. The potential for more tours including for school youth was discussed.

Bylaws. Ossewaarde introduced the finalized draft and reviewed the background and changes made. Moved, seconded and passed to remove and hold back for inquiry a clause in Article six Section 2 referring to holding office in more than one council, with consensus opposing that provision. Moved by Fran Vandervoort, seconded by Judith Hill and unanimously approved to adopt the revised bylaws draft 8(a) as amended above. Vandervoort praised the assistance the committee (she and Ossewaarde) received pro bono from Attorney Roger M. Huff. Instruction was given to the Secretary to write him a letter of acknowledgement and thanks. [Former and new bylaws and changes (including clean copy of new—to be prepared) can be seen at the fieldhouse or downloaded at http://www.hydepark.org/parks/jpac/bylawsnew.htm. Or for hard copy call Gary Ossewaarde at 773 288-8343.]

Report and action on the Wooded Island Walkthrough. A walkthrough of JPAC members with Chicago Park District staff, particularly Adam Schwerner, Director of Natural Resources) and stakeholders was arranged by JPAC so we could see conditions and what work has been and is to be done where, and why. Also, concerns were being brought to JPAC about work in at the west side of the “Rose Garden”. At the walkthrough, the diverse group that braved a cold day asked and had answered many questions. An updated plan for phased removals and plantings was in progress (sent later- see in http://www.hydepark.org/parks/birds/Woodedsum.htm). All acknowledged that habitat establishment and maintenance is a long-range commitment. Work that The Care of Trees did removing select downed tree material and growth choking out oaks was also reviewed with the park forester Jerome Scott. Encouraging was that oak saplings are coming back in thinned areas. By the “Rose Garden” White Mulberry trees had been removed, contributing to a stark look due largely to seasonal plant dieback---the mulberries will be replaced with suitable species. Observed: need for attention and planning for tree stands outside the natural areas proper and potential for aquatic and lagoon edge plantings.

Recommendation from the c. 8 JPAC members from the walkthrough was that the Wooded Island Working Group is a good vehicle for ongoing oversight in which JPAC should participate and that the updated management plan is good. Vandervoort moved and McCurry seconded: JPAC will participate in the Wooded Island Working Group; we expect the Park District to come to JPAC when it wants to make major plan revisions, and JPAC endorses the updated plan. Noted was need to recruit a permanent site steward or stewards. McCurry will serve as interim planner and recruiter of volunteers; Gail Parry and Norman Bell will do the same for Bob-o-link Meadow. The nature committee was asked to meet and among other tasks develop work, skills and priorities lists and volunteer candidates.

Consensus-- defer contracting with Care of Trees this winter because our balance would become too low.

Committees. The following expressed interest in specific committees. Safety/security: Michael Taqee, Coach Foster Williams, Ossewaarde and a couple of others. Youth and Programs. Amy Dworsky, Williams (track and football, mentoring), Ram Nair (soccer), McCurry (soccer). Outreach, Membership, Fundraising. Booker-Blakeley, Judith Hill, Ossewaarde and others. Nature etc. McCurry, Bell, Parry, Kevin Quinn (trees), Booker-Blakeley, Hill, Vandervoort. Esther Schechter and Zelia Stevens will continue to do observation and walks through the park.
Artificial surface field. A report (avail. on request) was distributed by Ossewaarde on a community meeting. One of the coaches present (Foster Williams?) described and endorsed the proposal as beneficial. Ossewaarde also passed around a letter of provisional support the officers agreed to supply, this being needed last week. Endorsement was conditional on action by this meeting. There was discussion of locations in or near the running track; consensus was in favor of the public and team endorsed location inside the track unless the proposal is changed. The park district has recommended Jackson Park and is seeking a grant (the field will be privately funded), expecting work to start quickly. Extensive upgrade is already underway at the track. Moved, seconded and passed to endorse the proposal.

Park District budget. McCurry and Ossewaarde attended a workshop and question session with CPD budget head Stephen Hughes, convened by Friends of the Parks. Cuts are being made across the system. Maintaining program to the extent possible and deploying it according to demand and the needs and income of various neighborhoods was laid out as priority, but challenged by attendees there. Concern was expressed that some programs including in Jackson may not be filled because of high fees or inability to hire enough staff. McCurry cautioned against park district intent to sell advertising in parks around certain facilities.

Park conditions. The coaches and other observers said field conditions are “lousy”. The immediate cause was said to be that unregistered groups with a “don’t care” attitude come and use the fields and not enough security is present to get them out. Consensus was to go to various authorities and insist on enforcement. On the other hand, sophisticated police action had reduced illegal activities in some parts of the park, though whether sustainably remains to be seen. Various persons were assigned various contacts on safety; coordination would be sought through the 5th Ward office.

Dog friendly area? A location was suggested by McCurry, far from natural areas or other facilities for which such an area would create a nuisance. Moved by McCurry, seconded by Quinn to investigate feasibility and interest.

Dues. Moved by McCurry, seconded and approved that dues be $25 individual, $35 organization. JPAC funds too low and we have a new mission; nec. for fundraising campaign [Bylaws req. rec. only; vote at a future mtg.]

Confirmed: meeting date continues to be 2nd Mondays until annual review next November (per new bylaws).
Next meeting January 10.
Meeting adjourned 9:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Gary Ossewaarde, Secretary


In Other News Friends of the Parks announced that it will award Gary Ossewaarde, inter alia JPAC Secretary, its Individual Award for work in Jackson and other South Side parks at its Annual Luncheon Meeting Feb. 3 in the Chicago Cultural Center G.A.R. Hall. For information about the luncheon, call Amy Donatell at 312 857-2757 x14.

JPAC officers sent in December the following updated letter to CPD endorsing the artificial field proposal.

Thank you for your request for a letter supporting Chicago Park District and associates’ proposal and grant application for an artificial surface field in the Jackson Park Running Track. Jackson Park Advisory Council met December 13, 2010, quorum being present and new officers having been elected, and resolved unanimous and enthusiastic support for the proposal and grant for an artificial surface field at the 62nd and Stony Island running track.

JPAC officers were pleased to attend a public presentation and input gathering meeting November 2010 concerning interest in placement of an artificial surface playing field in Jackson and other parks. We were impressed by the large and enthusiastic attendance by potential user teams and the public, by the concept, by answers to questions and concerns, and by the Park District’s evidence of its careful review of the concept.

We note a consensus at the meeting to support the plan and to place the surface inside the current Jackson Park Running Track (already undergoing upgrade). Also, that installation would not require funds from the Chicago Park District, that the programming and use schedule for the field would be entirely under the control of the Park District, and that the final plan and details will be brought to the community. We believe this improvement would bring major benefits to the park, youth, and schools and communities.

Therefore we offer support. We also ask that when the drawings are ready they be shared at a council meeting, generally held the second Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the field house, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave.


JPAC revitalization press release December 2010

Jackson Park Advisory Council has been revitalized

The following is a release by and about Jackson Park Advisory Council. The section starting with the second paragraph was sent to the Hyde Park Herald as a Letter to the Editor. GMO

December, 2010

Chicago’s Park Advisory Councils are a unique and successful partnership between communities and the governing body for Chicago’s parks. For the past 27 years, Jackson Park Advisory Council has safeguarded the park and introduced or rallied behind improvements under strong leaders including Eric Hatchett, Nancy Hays, and Ross Petersen and participation of members and local and citywide partners. JPAC has been adept and inventive over the years, this year forming a working partnership with Care of Trees and arranging a fiscal agency with Friends of the Parks. As happens from time to time, JPAC this year also experienced internal and external stresses and some officers resigned. The following tells how this Chicago park advisory council recruited involvement from its communities and reinvented itself.

The Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) has been revitalized! As a large cadre from the park’s surrounding neighborhoods, JPAC invites you join our action committees and participate in our monthly meetings, working both to sustain what is strong and to support or introduce new creative uses and projects throughout the park. We ask you to keep in mind that it takes financial support to carry out the responsibilities and pursue the opportunities of the advisory council for this large park in our backyard.

May we introduce our new President—Louise McCurry, known to many of you as the “soccer lady,” and our new Vice President—Toshia Booker-Blakeley, a real estate agent from South Shore. Gary Ossewaarde remains Secretary and Dwight Powell Treasurer. Our committees are brimming with new ideas for Safety, Natural Areas, Outreach, and Youth and other Programs. Their projects will increase membership, communication and input from communities, volunteerism and participation.

We took three important actions December 13 that show our commitment for the long term:

1) Following up on a large community meeting, JPAC enthusiastically endorsed a Chicago Park District grant request for a privately-funded artificial surface football/soccer field inside the present running track along Stony Island that will be scheduled and maintained by the park district. The field and track are already undergoing preparation for new lighting, drainage and other amenities. The new surface and improvements will serve much better the park district, school and other teams that use them.

2) Following up on a November JPAC convened walk through of Wooded Island with the park district and stakeholders, at which many careful questions were asked and answered, JPAC at its December meeting endorsed an updated plan and schedule for habitat reconstruction on the Island and recommitted to participation in a broad oversight group, the Wooded Island Working Group.

3) A progressive set of bylaws was adopted, concluding several months of work by the committee composed of Fran Vandervoort, Gary Ossewaarde, and attorney Roger M. Huff.

JPAC is evaluating its and the park’s existing programs and operations, recommending new projects, and pursuing new partnerships and ways of involving neighbors and stakeholders in creating an amazing and enjoyable park that remains true to its historic heritage. We welcome and need your input and ideas and want you to be pleased and excited about this park, this neighborhood asset in your backyard. Our watchword is “We can do more…and we will!” We meet 2nd Mondays 7:30 at the fieldhouse, 6401 S. Stony Island, next being January 10. Please contact garyossewaarde@yahoo.com about working with and supporting JPAC.

Louise McCurry, Toshia Booker-Blakeley, Gary Ossewaarde, Dwight Powell—Jackson Park Advisory Council