Mayor: Citywide Playground Revamp Could Stimulate Economic Development

(CBS) – It’s the first major city parks rehab in 20 years.

On Thursday, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel revealed an ambitious project he says will transform hundreds of city playgrounds.

CBS 2’s Chris Martinez reports.

At least a couple of days a week Stephanie Terrazas brings her son to play at a neighborhood park. It’s one of 300 now in line for a much-needed facelift.

“That’d be great for the kids just so they have somewhere to go and not just running in the streets,” she says.

That is in part the reason behind the revamp. Emanuel announced a program called “Chicago Plays” to rebuild the playgrounds from top to bottom over five years.

That, plus new construction, like the elevated Bloomingdale Trail, will put every child in the city within a 10-minute walk of a playground.

“It’s not like a paint job. This is new equipment, top to bottom,” Emanuel said.

The mayor says it’s a way to reignite neighborhood pride, giving families a bigger stake in where they live.

“The main drive is for economic growth, but nothing’s better at fighting crime than economic growth,” the mayor said.

Emanuel says the playgrounds and parks are being financed with capital funds. He expects five new parks to open by year’s end, and the first 50 playgrounds will be rebuilt.

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