La Villita Park Story
by Carolina Gallo 10/6/16
Walking towards 28 and Sacramento one gets swifts of polluted air from the factories. Then you see it the Cook County Jail; the barbed wire and fumes coming out the towers. Complete different scenery from the green space across the street at La Villita Park. Except it wasn’t always like this, La Villita Park was build on the 23 acres of land were Celotex Asphalt Company once was (Riley, 2013). This can be seen through the empty buildings behind the skate park and basketball courts. Other than that little remains of the brownfield* it once was. According to mayor Rahm Emanuel, the building of La Villita Park is the city’s largest brownfield conservation to day.Furthermore, the idea of building more green space in Little Village is nothing new, it has a plan since 1998 (WBEZ, 2008). Yet there is still a lack of green space in the area, according to Kathy Dickhut with the Department of Planning and Development. As Kathy Dickhut said, “Ideally the city wants two acres of land per every one thousand residents.” Little Village population, as graphed by City Data is 66,196, it is in need of hundreds of acres, but the 23 acres that make up La Villita park is a start. This along with Little Village’s history as a factory sector, like the Celotex Asphalt Company, has cause asthma rates to be one of the highest in the city of Chicago (Wasserman, 2011). That is why I choose to do my project on La Villita Park because the community is desperate need of clean air and green space. By creating green in the community, safe space is created because now the youth have a place to hang out. On the other hand, the park cost the city approximately $20 million, which considering that Little Village produces the second largest revenue to city of Chicago, next to the Magnificent Mile makes this a gift that was long overdue. The building of La Villita Park is changing the conversation when it comes to repurposing land in the city.
. Brownfield: polluted areas that got reuse (Baer, 2015).
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