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Playing Politics with the Parks

On Monday, the mayor unveiled his five-year blueprint for "unprecedented" park investment. Today, Blair Kamin is calling it what it is: the Park District's 2012-2016 capital budget. There's nothing extraordinary about it. In fact, it's down $16M versus last year's 2011-2015 plan. More illusion came by way of Emanuel's budgetary inclusion of the $100M 31st Street Harbor construction, approved and funded under former Mayor Richard Daley. The plan's $290M will be distributed among more than 800 parks and recreation facilities. New elements call for buying 180 acres and building 20 playgrounds and a dozen parks. In essence, the mayor was long on fanfare and short on substance. "We have a beautiful front yard," he said. "We're now going to make our backyard as beautiful as our front yard." [Cityscapes]