LONG-AWAITED LAKEFRONT PARK COMING CLOSER TO REALITY
Lakefront project that would honor city founder takes big strides with soil cleanup, tentative funding approval
Council committee OKs $5 million to fund planning, design of project that would honor DuSable and has been plagued by problems, including radioactive soil
A decades-long effort to take a premiere patch of the lakefront and build a park to honor Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, the Black man who founded the city of Chicago, inched closer to the finish line this week.
On Thursday, a City Council committee OK’d $5 million for the planning and design of DuSable Park, with a full Council vote as early as next month.
The land, at the mouth of the Chicago River near Navy Pier, was designated for use as a park in 1987 by Mayor Harold Washington, but the project has run into a number of problems over the years, not the least of which was polluted soil.
In July, the city finished an environmental cleanup of the 3.25-acre plot.
It had been contaminated with thorium, a radioactive material used by a Streeterville gas lamp company nearly 100 years ago to ensure a brighter glow.
This summer, the site has been made level and seeded, further fueling the curiosity of innumerable Lakefront Trail users who for years have glanced east and wondered: Why the heck isn’t that land put to use?
One reason: The park’s fate is tied to the fate of another building project not far away, on the other side of Lake Shore Drive, where plans for the once-heralded 2,000-foot-tall Chicago Spire famously fell apart, leaving a giant hole, 76 feet deep, in the ground.
Since 2014, the Spire site has been in the hands of Related Midwest, a New York-based development firm that plans to build two smaller apartment towers there. Related Midwest also has pledged $10 million to build the park.
Related Midwest plans to break ground in 2021; the first tower is slated for completion in 2024 or 2025, according to a company spokeswoman.
The city is requiring construction on DuSable Park be completed before any residents would be allowed to move into the building.
“It finally feels real, to be honest,” said Heather Gleason, director of planning and construction for the Chicago Park District. “I think the most exciting part is honoring
DuSable’s history and his contributions to the city.”
City officials expect a wide range of input on how to best honor DuSable at the park.
“There’s never been a question that there shouldn’t be a park or memorials to him. I think this is something that I’m hoping we can all rally around. I think if anything, we might debate on what the proper representation is,” Gleason said.
There are no plans to include a playground at the park. It’s envisioned as more of a passive space with benches, lighting and pathways.
Later this year or early next year, the park district plans to begin seeking community feedback on the design, Gleason said.
A local rapper allegedly told detectives he thought members of his own gang were going to kill him, so he fired his gun off to scare them.
But 25-year-old Jermy Terry ended up shooting and killing an innocent bystander instead on May
16, Cook County prosecutors said Friday.
Terry, who goes by the name of “Tiga Sane” and is seen in numerous YouTube videos holding guns, said he only wanted to send out “pop shots” in the air and didn’t mean to shoot 32-year-old Jerry Montgomery, prosecutors said.
Terry allegedly said there was a hit out on him and he thought his fellow Insane Vice Lords were going to “snake him,” prosecutors said.
But video footage of the shooting in Austin paints a different picture, prosecutors said.
Terry was captured on video that night on the corner of Leamington Street and Monroe
Avenue, peering down the street at two fellow gang members standing near the entrance to a lot, prosecutors said.
Terry waited at the corner for a few moments before allegedly pulling out a gun with an extended magazine. He then hid the weapon behind his back and adjusted his hood before popping out from the corner and firing several rounds down the street toward the two men, prosecutors said.
Montgomery, who happened to be walking down the sidewalk toward Terry, was directly in the path of the bullets and was struck in the chest in the first block of South Leamington Avenue, prosecutors said.
Video footage clearly shows Terry’s face — which detectives recognized — as he ran with the gun through an alley, prosecutors said.
Montgomery was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital.
Terry was ordered held without bail for Montgomery’s murder.
DuSable Park, near Navy Pier. Completion of the project has been slow — it was designated as a park site in 1987. PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES
Jean Baptiste Point DuSable