Oz Park

Tin ManOz Park is one of the most popular parks in Lincoln Central and a favorite recreation destination for area residents. Created in 1967 by the Chicago Park District, this 13-acre park was named in honor of L. Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard of Oz, who for a time lived a short distance from the park. The park has recreational facilities including basketball and tennis courts, a jogging path and the Melamerson Athletic Field, with three baseball diamonds. Other amenities include numerous picnic tables, a large children's playground area and the Emerald City Gardens.

Over the years, the park has benefited by the active involvement of area residents and in particular, the Oz Park Advisory Council. In 1988, the Oz Park Playground was constructed along Webster, having been funded by donations from area residents and businesses. A large plaque outside the play area lists the donors. The Oz Park Advisory Council spearheaded the creation of the beautiful Emerald City Gardens, near the corner of Webster and Larrabee.The gardens, which are maintained by the Council, provide a quiet area within Oz Park for relaxation and contemplation.

The largest single contributor to Oz Park was Dorothy Melamerson whose 1994 bequest made possible the reconstruction of the large athletic field just north of Lincoln Park High School. Dorothy, a long time area resident, was a gym teacher in the Chicago Public Schools and was interested in the physical well being of children. Through consistent savings, a modest lifestyle and wise investing, Dorothy left $900,000 to upgrade park facilities and begin youth sports programs in 43rd Ward parks. $600,000 went into the 1996 and 1997 renovation of the Oz Park athletic field, which was named the Melamerson Athletic Field in her honor.

dorothy Scarecrow Lion

The park has also benefited by placement of statues of characters from the Wizard of Oz, made possible through the generosity of area residents, community organizations and businesses. In 1995, the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce placed the Tin Man statue, created by noted Old Town artist John Kearney, at the corner of Webster and Larrabee.

The Oz Park Advisory Council organized fund raising drives for the creation of additional Wizard of Oz statues. In 2001, the Cowardly Lion statue was dedicated at the corner of Larrabee and Dickens and in 2005, the Scarecrow statue was placed in the Emerald Gardens. In 2007, the statue of Dorothy and Toto located at the entrance to the park at Webster and Orchard completed this project.

FieldThe Oz Park Advisory Council continues to spearhead further improvements to the park. In 2006, funding was obtained for a rubberized soft surface in the children's playground area. The Council also funds ongoing maintenance of the Emerald City Garden as well as community events such as concerts and movies in the park. Over the years, the Council has obtained contributions, grants and bequests of over $1.1 million, with all the money going directly into the park.

The Oz Park Advisory Council welcomes the involvement of neighbors in its effort to keep Oz Park a quiet open space for all to enjoy. Individuals interested in getting involved in efforts to benefit Oz Park can contact Judy Johanson at 773-929-2034 (E-Mail: Ozwitch@att.net) or Lincoln Central Association (Voice Mail: 312-409-2783) or email Lincoln Central at davidvarnerin@aol.com.



Bauler Park

Bauler Playlot Park, located on Wisconsin Avenue between Cleveland and Mohawk, was last redesigned in the mid 1980's by Old Town resident and renowned architect, Walter Netsch. In the early 1990's, neighborhood residents raised over $7,000 to install additional children's playground equipment around a preexisting swing set. A new wooden perimeter structure was also installed to clearly define the area. The park has now become a gathering place for neighborhood children and families.

Storybook CornerIn 1999, a group of neighborhood residents, led by Lincoln Central Association past President Rick Rausch, formed the Bauler Park Advisory Council in an effort to upgrade the Park's amenities and appearance. Since then, over $75,000 has been raised for park improvements, which include numerous new plantings, a sprinkler system, new park benches, and the storybook corner seating area dedicated to Ella Jenkins. The Council also funds a supplemental maintenance program to preserve the park's planted areas. The perimeter ornamental fence was installed by the Chicago Park District as part of the citywide program to replace old chain link fences. In 2006, the Parkway along Wisconsin Avenue was renovated with new bricks and ornamental iron fences were placed around the parkway trees.

The Bauler Park Advisory Council continues to implement additional improvements to the park's equipment, plantings and greenery. Individuals can send tax-deductible contributions to Lincoln Central Association, P.O. Box 14306, Chicago, IL 60614-0306.If you are interested in helping the Council, please contact Elizabeth Samuels at 312-664-1906 or email emsamuels@gmail.com.

Lincoln Central Park

fountainLincoln Central Park is located at the northwest corner of Lincoln Avenue and Dickens and is administered by the Chicago Department of Transportation. As a result of active involvement by a number of nearby residents, Lincoln Central Association and Alderman Vi Daley, the park was totally redesigned and rebuilt in 1999 and dedicated on June 4, 2000. The entire project was funded by Mayor Daley's Fountain Program.

The centerpiece of the park is an attractive metal fountain. The park is beautifully landscaped and benches, which invite passers by to sit and relax, surround the central fountain plaza area.

Fountain SeatingLincoln Central Association continues to implement improvements to the park to enhance its appearance. In 2009 and 2010, a special campaign to revive the park's appearance resulted in the planting of additional greenery along Dickens Street and Lincoln Avenue and in the area west of the fountain. Individuals interested in getting involved in further park improvements are encouraged to contact Lincoln Central (Voice Mail: 312-409-2783) or email davidvarnerin@aol.com.

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Fire Station Park

sculptureFire Station Park Blooms Again

Fire Station Park is located on the west side of Larrabee just south of Armitage, behind the Chicago Fire Department building. The park is administered by the Chicago Department of Transportation and, for many years, had been a children's play area with an actual fire engine as its centerpiece. In 2005, the park was totally renovated, to include new walkways, new park benches and games tables and several floral garden areas. (The fire engine was removed due to safety concerns). In the rear of the park, a circular cement area was created to display artwork made available by the city's rotating sculpture program. However, between 2005 and 2010, the planted areas were neglected and the park's overall appearance deteriorated.

Then, in 2011, former 43rd Ward Alderman Vi Daley made a major financial commitment to revitalize the park and a group of concerned neighbors launched a program to renovate the park. A plan was formulated and resources were identified. The result is a totally renovated park and a true gem for the neighborhood.

Fire Station Park is now a true neighborhood collaboration. Not only did residents provide the vision and initial manpower, but mulch paths were created and installed in the park with the help of Green Corps and Home Depot, which also donated the materials. Thanks also goes to Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, Christy Webber Landscapers, and former Alderman Vi Daley, who was instrumental in securing funding and city support for the park renovation. A highlight of the park is the sculpture "A River Runs Through…" by artist Peter N. Gray. "A River Runs Through…" is a tribute to many of Chicago's topographical features.

"We are so proud of how Lincoln Central residents came together to take the idea of renovating this little green space and to make it bloom into a beautiful - and now award-winning - community garden," said Lincoln Central President Rodger Owen.

Lincoln Central Association submitted the Fire Station Park renovation as an entry for Region 2. The program divides the city into four regions and awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place are given in each of four categories. The Community Landscape category, which Lincoln Central won, recognizes community groups for their efforts.

Many community volunteers have not only helped with the transformation, but are now continuing to weed, water and maintain the new garden. But more help will be needed to maintain the park. For information or to volunteer at Fire Station Park, please call Lincoln Central Association at (312) 409-2783 or email Sally Drucker at sdsscout@gmail.com.

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Ogden Mall Park

By David Varnerin

Ogden Mall Park is located adjacent to the Midwest Buddhist Temple on the 1800 block of Hudson Avenue and extends northeast to Sedgwick. The park was constructed in 1975 over what had been Ogden Avenue and was intended to be a passive park, where people could come and relax. The park contains two large metal horse sculptures by the noted local artist John Kearney. In the mid 1990's, some improvements were made to the park fountain area and to the children's play area at the northern edge of the park. The Old Town Triangle Association has funded some of the park maintenance, including the placement of three trash receptacles and the weekly trash pickup. The park is under the jurisdiction of the city's Department of Transportation.

In 2004, a committee was formed to evaluate how well this park meets the needs of the community and what changes and improvements should be considered.After a number of community meetings and discussion groups, it was decided to focus attention on the children's play area.A consensus emerged that the play area needed to be renovated in order to be brought up to current playground standards, particularly from a safety standpoint. Ogden Play AreaThe Old Town Triangle Association funded design work on the project and then initiated a fund raising program. After raising over $60,000, the renovated play area was installed in September 2006. The entire area is now covered in a rubberized soft surface and features a new slide, balance beam and benches.

Further improvements to the other area of this park remain under discussion.

Individuals interested in getting involved in this project can contact the Old Town Triangle Association.
Phone: 312-337-1938
e-mail: info@oldtowntriangle.com



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