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New Jones Prep Athletic Field Will Be Open To Public

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Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
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CHICAGO (CBS) – A new athletic facility will be built for a South Loop high school, but officials are avoiding the kind of controversy that surrounded a soccer field in Lincoln Park. CBS 2’s Jim Williams explains in this original report.

Jones College Prep has a brand new, state of the art building. But in the land-locked South Loop, there’s no room on campus for an athletic field, so the city will convert a vacant lot two miles south of the high school.

The land is in Alderman Pat Dowell’s Third Ward.

“It provides an opportunity for the students at Jones that are on these sports teams to be able to have someplace to practice and play,” said Dowell.

All high school athletes need such a facility, but Alderman Scott Waguespack saw a potential problem.

“There are buildings right next door that don’t have playgrounds,” said Waguespack. “You’re kind of taking this particular spot from green space to a running track or multi-use. Those people need that access.”

Waguespack remembers what happened years ago when the city allowed the private Latin School to build a soccer field, in what had always been public space in Lincoln Park.

“Basically, public members tried to go out there and kick the ball around, play around with their kids, and were told this is a field exclusively for the Latin School,” said Waguespack.

But Alderman Dowell says she has a promise in writing that the new park will be open to the public.

It is welcome news for South Loop resident Nick Masse.

“If the community can take advantage of that situation, then yeah I can’t why it wouldn’t be a good idea,” said Masse.

Alderman Dowell says the new park at 23rd and Federal should be ready by the beginning of the next school year. It’ll also be used by the National Teachers Academy.

The Ickes Public Housing Apartments used to be there. Some of the former residents will return to new homes built on part of that land.

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