TIF should include parks
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