Kosciuszko Park (2732 N. Avers Ave.) was abuzz last week as new renovations — including an outdoor fitness space, a turf baseball field and an updated playground — were unveiled after months of construction.
A fenced-in dog park also opened but closed again shortly after for further work.
“There’s a miscommunication happening right now between two departments,” the Kosciuszko Park Advisory Council said on a Facebook post about the dog park. “We are waiting for the one department to paint the surface a lighter color so it does not absorb heat.”
Former 31st Ward Alderman Milly Santiago set the renovations in motion when she allocated $1.8 million in tax increment finance dollars to the project in 2019. The long-desired dog park was funded by current 31st Ward Alderman Felix Cardona Jr.’s menu money. (“Menu money” refers to capital improvement funds divvied up among the city’s 50 aldermen.)
Construction on the park began in 2020 but was halted for months because of the coronavirus pandemic. Work resumed this spring.
Families, exercise enthusiasts and dog owners alike flocked to the park last weekend to enjoy the new amenities.
“I really like it,” said Ross Allen, who watched his daughter play on the rehabbed playground. “We come here a lot, so having an updated park and modernizing it, it’s really nice.”
Trinity International University junior Dominik Olech used the new turf baseball diamond to field balls hit by his father.
“I’ll be here a lot,” Olech said after snagging a baseball from the air. He added that he hopes the diamond inspires others to pick up the sport. “Kids are going to walk by and have a greater desire to play.” he said. “Hopefully, [the park will] have some leagues set up and we’ll see some more organized baseball here.”
Luckily for Olech, the park’s advisory council plans to begin a little league baseball team and a softball team in the future.
Coinciding perfectly with the city’s easing of mask restrictions for people vaccinated against COVID-19, Kosciuszko Park’s reopening after a year of pandemic lockdowns represented more than a simple park unveiling — it felt like a fresh start.
“I see every space filled up with families or active people,” said resident Mollie Jean. “I think that’s absolutely lovely.”
The Kosciuszko Park Advisory Council hosts its first meeting since the reopening on June 3, and attendees can learn how to get involved with the park going forward.
Featured photo: Paulina Fadrowska