CHICAGO (CBS)—A troubled Chicago park is too dangerous for kids.

Harding Park near Division and Pulaski is littered with garbage, cigarette butts and even discarded needles.

Ruby Eldefonso, a grandmother, says she’s not comfortable taking her grandkids to the park to play.

“This is not a good park for any kid at all to come and play,” she said. “I tell them ‘no, not in that park, it’s very dirty.’”

Humboldt Park resident Javier Garcia said he’s seen illegal drug use and people drinking in the park.

“It’s s lot of adults that be here instead of kids, Garcia said. “It’s a kids park, not an adult park.”

Adults aren’t even supposed to be in the park to volunteer. That’s because the park is so dirty that park district crews are required to wear special equipment to clean it up.

Garbage litters Harding Park in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Kathy Breitenbach, director of cultural and natural resources for the park district, said the park’s poor condition made her sad.

“We’ll clean there every day, but when we come back the next day, we’ll often find the same problem,” Breitenbach said.

Breitenbach’s department spends nearly $7 million to deal with litter and garbage across 600 parks.

Harding, she says, is one of the most difficult parks to maintain. She said the neighborhood needs to do its part to help keep it clean.

“When you’re in the park, put your garbage in the right place,” Breitenbach said. “If you see an issue in the park, let us know.”

Alderman Emma Mitts’ office receives complaints about “annoying, potentially unsafe and unsanitary” paraphernalia in Harding Park.

Mitts told CBS 2 she has taken steps to improve the park’s condition; including adding patrols, installing new perimeter fencing, adding lighting and enforcing the park’s 11 p.m. close time.

Records show cleaning crews responded only once or twice a week between the end of March and mid-April, then ramped up the cleaning schedule to five days a week around the same time CBS 2 began questioning conditions.





Lauren Victory