Community celebrates Columbus Park’s new fields

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Ald. Deborah Graham (29th Ward), Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael Kelly celebrated the opening of new artificial turf fields at Columbus Park last weekend.

Youth football and soccer players, cheerleaders and pom-pom girls and other West Side residents also were on hand to use the the new field, a 7.5-acre area within Columbus Park, 500 S. Central Ave.

An estimated $3.5 million in state, city and Chicago Park District funds were used to upgrade the park, which now features new natural and artificial lacrosse, football, soccer, t-ball, softball and baseball fields.

Residents have been pushing for the improvements, AustinTalks reported last year.

“The entire Austin community is extremely excited for these new investments,” Graham said in a written statement. “Our newly lit soccer, baseball and football fields will give our children a place to enjoy themselves right in their own community. And the fields won’t flood every time there’s a heavy rain.”

“Public investments like these not only stabilize and lift up our community – they also help attract new private investment,” she said.

Park improvements include the combination ball fields, new concrete paving, new sports fencing and backstops, extensive drainage, storm water detention, new sports lighting, new electrical transformer, drinking fountain, water lines, trees and a lawn.

The artificial turf field is part of the building a New Chicago program, a $7.3 billion citywide infrastructure renewal program. A portion of the funding was secured through a $1.1 million Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program state-financed grant.

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