2023 VIP (VOLUNTEERS-IN-PARKS) AWARD WINNERS
Each year Friends of the Parks puts out a call for nominations for groups and individuals that have gone above and beyond in making Chicago’s parks great places—through stewardship, advocacy, coordinating park-centric activities for the community, and other kinds of volunteerism. On December 2, 2023 Friends of the Parks celebrated this year’s awardees.
“ADVOCACY AWARD: PRESERVATION CHICAGO
“For your leadership and perseverance in fights to protect and preserve historical legacies in Humboldt Park and Promontory Point.
“This year’s advocacy award goes to Preservation Chicago. It is not uncommon for there to be overlap on park-related projects that are on Friends of the Parks’ agenda and that of Preservation Chicago. And this has very much been the case in the last two years.
“Per their historic preservation focus, one big campaign where they have played a strong role over the last couple of years alongside neighborhood activists has been the fight to preserve the limestone revetments that line the lakeshore at Promontory Point.
“On top of that, in 2023 they played an invaluable role in challenging the illegal construction of a supposed archive building in Humboldt Park by the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture on land they lease from the Chicago Park District. In addition to being built without building permits from the City of Chicago, the unsightly structure was sited next to the historic and architecturally significant former stables building that once served as the office of renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen.
”Preservation Chicago tenaciously submitted and reviewed myriad Freedom of Information Act requests to unearth details about the situation, making clear that the museum had misrepresented the truth about their plans on various occasions to various government entities who also weren’t communicating well with one another. They shared the information with strategic government, regional, and local partners as well as the media to ensure distribution of factual information in support of organizing and advocacy pressure. They also coordinated with various players to ensure a steady stream of testimony at Chicago Park District board of commissioners calling for the demolition of the unauthorized building.
“This advocacy was a key ingredient in a successful outcome. In Fall 2023, an announcement was made that the unpermitted structure in the park would be torn down and a non-park site would be found in the community for a museum archives building! Despite the fight that took place, Preservation Chicago continues in a cooperative conversation with the museum to help them find solutions to maximize the use of the historic stables building they occupy.” (Friends of the Parks)