Construction Of School Annex To Turn Lincoln Park Street Into Playground

CHICAGO (CBS) — Residents of a block in Lincoln Park have threatened to file a lawsuit, after learning their street will be closed during the day for about a year, to help make way for construction of an addition to the local elementary school.

WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports work will soon begin on construction of a $20 million annex for Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, in the 600 block of West Kemper Place.

During construction, that block of Kemper Place will be closed for use as a playground, and traffic will be diverted into the alley between Kemper and Belden Avenue.

“I’m very concerned. Using an alley as a through-street is just a horrible idea. Not to mention kids in the street. I mean, kids have to play in the street for recess,” said David Gaito, who lives across the street.

WBBM 780’s Mike Krauser

lincoln annex full Construction Of School Annex To Turn Lincoln Park Street Into Playground
WBBM 780/105.9FM

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) said she completely supports the plan to close the street, though she disagreed the alley would become a through-street.

As for Kemper being used as a playground, she said Lincoln students need somewhere to have recess while the annex is built where the previous school playground once sat.

Plans for the annex include ultimately moving most of the existing playground to a rooftop play area, though some playground equipment would be moved back to where it once was at ground level after the annex is complete.

Gaito and other neighbors of the school said it’s the most ill-conceived and asinine decision they’ve ever heard,” Gaito said.

“I guess the CPS and the principal of Lincoln School are now running the city streets. They get to do whatever they want,” Gaito said.

Neighbors said the plan was forced down their throats, without any input from them.

“It’s really, really disappointing. I feel like we’re in … I don’t feel like we’re in a democracy, let’s just say that. I feel like it’s whatever this project wants, it gets,” Gaito said. “They’ve crossed the line, and this is just completely unacceptable.”

Neighbors said they’re considering a lawsuit to block the plans for their street.

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