Renovation Plans To Remove Fence In Chicago Park Sparks Security Talk

CHICAGO (CBS) — Safety is the top concern among park goers and residents when it comes to renovating a Chicago park.

Seneca Park & Eli M. Schulman Playground, at Pearson and Mies Van Der Rohe Way, have been in the heart of Streeterville for more than three decades.

Joanie Legittino comes to the park about four times a week with her two year-old son, Crosby, and said, “We love this park so much. We like the security of it. I can sit and not worry if he’s at the smaller park [here] or the one behind me.”

A proposal plan would give the park new playground equipment, a new fence and more open space. Additionally, on the east side of the park, where there is a ton of green open space, the six ft. fence would be removed.

The proposal calls for the fence to be replaced by a winding concrete bench.

“I don’t think that would be very good. We’re dealing with many high-security areas and issues in the city as it is,” Legittino said. “And like I said, I can sit here and — he can’t get out, the doors are locked. I don’t want to be worried about an area that he can climb, because, as you know, little kids are really fast.”

Legittino said if a redesign happens, she’d rather it have a fence, adding, “security is our first priority.”

“A low fence, or just concrete benches, is wonderful in theory, but today, with the added congestion of the neighborhood, with the added businesses, we need to ensure we have safety,” said Stephen Di Padua, a Streeterville resident and top realtor in the area.

In response to public concerns, Ald. Brian Hopkins said two modified plans will be presented at a community meeting Wednesday night: One with barriers between the concrete benches and another with a three ft. fence.

“It’s a decorative fence that is part of the elements of design, that include benches and some of the decorative barriers, so it doesn’t look imposing,” Ald. Hopkins said.

The Park District Foundation is setting up a website to raise fund for the $3 million needed for the renovation.

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