TIF should in­clude parks

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - PERSPECTIVE -

The city of Chicago’s pro­posed tax in­cre­ment fi­nanc­ing dis­trict for the Cort­land/Chicago River on a 168-acre site along the North Branch In­dus­trial Cor­ri­dor pro­poses to spend $800 mil­lion dol­lars for pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments be­tween North Av­enue and Ar­mitage Av­enue. Most of th­ese im­prove­ments are tar­geted for roads and tran­sit specif­i­cally to make pos­si­ble Ster­ling Bay’s Lin­coln Yards de­vel­op­ment on 70 acres of the TIF area.

What the pro­posed TIF fails to in­clude are pub­lic dol­lars to build a large recre­ational park in the area. This is un­ac­cept­able for a de­vel­op­ment that es­ti­mates an in­crease of nearly 10,000 new res­i­dents.

By the city’s own park de­vel­op­ment stan­dards adopted in the Ci­tyS­pace Plan, the goal is to pro­vide 5 acres of park space for ev­ery 1,000 peo­ple by 2020. To meet the city’s stan­dard, at least 50 park acres should be re­quired for the Lin­coln Yards de­vel­op­ment alone.

The com­mu­ni­ties bor­der­ing the Cort­land/Chicago River TIF area list the 24acre North Branch Park Pre­serve as their high­est pri­or­ity. One can un­der­stand their frus­tra­tion to see the un­veiled TIF plan with­out park fund­ing. In­stead, al­most all pro­posed TIF projects for the Cort­land/ Chicago River TIF are for con­crete roads and bridges to serve the Lin­coln Yards de­vel­op­ment.

As the Tri­bune’s ed­i­to­rial stated, Lin­coln Yards will trans­form the North­west Side, “for bet­ter or for worse.” (“Lin­coln Yards TIF de­serves thor­ough vet­ting,” Nov. 19.)

To get it right, to en­sure a bet­ter fu­ture for the city, the TIF process should be slowed down, re­viewed and amended to in­clude $100 mil­lion in TIF fund­ing for land for the North Branch Park Pre­serve.

— Erma Tran­ter, past pres­i­dent, Friends of the Parks, Chicago

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