CHICAGO (CBS)–With acres upon acres of outdoor green space and home to of one of the most stunning botanical conservatories in the U.S., Garfield Park’s natural beauty is largely overshadowed by the violent crime that plagues the West Side neighborhood.
Garfield Park’s high crime rate usually draws more attention than the neighborhood’s outdoor offerings, but one resident is working hard to make the neighborhood a better place to be.
Keith Kelley showed CBS 2 around the neighborhood Wednesday.
When Kelley, the president of the Garfield Park Advisory Council, envisions a better neighborhood, he pictures restored public areas, more surveillance cameras and the restoration of the infamous gold dome that hangs above the park entrance.
Some of Garfield Park’s most beautiful areas, however, have pasts scarred by horrific tragedies.
Three years ago, the dismembered remains of 2-year-old Kyrian Knox were found in the Garfield Park Lagoon.
And a massive fight that broke out on the basketball court of Garfield Park in August led to the fatal shooting that killed 15-year-old Kenwon Parker.
Kelley hopes the community can move past those tragedies, and is asking the park district for help.
“You gotta be hopeful,” Kelley said.
Parker’s family was instrumental in getting the city to install a single camera at the Garfield Park Fieldhouse, where the teen was shot during the summer after an altercation involving hundreds of people that spilled out from the basketball court and into the streets.
Kelley says that camera is just the start of making Garfield Park a safer place to be.
He recently submitted a 2019 “wish list” to the park district that includes millions worth of renovations and security upgrades for the neighborhood.
Some recommendations on the list are practical, like clearing out tents pitched by the homeless. Other measures are more costly, like restoring the gold dome that hangs over the park entrance.
The Advisory Council isn’t counting on full financial support from the park district, however.
Council members want to rake in cash from public events hosted in Garfield Park, like movie nights and festivals.
“This is our community–we gotta take care of it,” he said.