"Gov. Rauner's decision to suspend grants for new parks across Chicago and the rest of the state will hurt every child who wants to swing on a swing set or play on the monkey bars." Rahm Emanuel's angry response to the governor's freeze of funds meant for city park projects, as reported by DNAinfo, shows him joing the ranks of mayors across the state frustrated at proposals to shrink city shares of state income tax and Illinois funds for projects become frozen or go under review. The state Department of Natural Resources froze $28 million in grants to the Chicago Park District, affecting two expansions projects meant to augment the 606 after it opens (the Magid Glove Factory purchase and Walsh Park expansion), as well as 25 other projects at 23 parks across Chicago. Along with big cuts expected for the CTA, and a freeze in projects such as the Uptown Theate renovation, the recent boom in park development and renovation funding may slow down considerably in 2015.
Rauner has said that with a $1.6 billion deficeit threatening prison payrolls and child-care assistance, he needs to take dramatic action to balance the budget. While Rahm asks the state to look into cutting corporate tax breaks, it appears that the budget battles are just heating up.
Update: We reached out to Beth White, Director, Chicago Region Office, The Trust for Public Land, who gave us an update on what the freeze means for the 606:
"This decision will not impact the first phase of The 606, which will open in June as planned. The loss of these grants would impact planned improvements for Walsh Park and the park planned for the former Magid Glove factory site. The frozen dollars were funding next phase improvements at Walsh Park, which includes the wheel-friendly event plaza, new playground equipment, a water spray feature, and a fitness zone. We understand the due diligence process. But, we feel confident that, once the state has done the research on the positive impact of these kinds of investments, they'll restore these dollars promptly."