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Picture this on the Midway Plaisance: dry, usable fields the day after it rains, grass that stays green in the summer heat, and thousands of flowers decorating the embankments.

It's hard to imagine now while a chain-link fence and construction signs close off the fields between Ellis and Cottage Grove Avenues, but Chicago Park District officials say the result will be a Midway that's drier, greener, and more accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. They predict the renovation will last until mid-October, after which the section will remain closed until June to grow grass.

PHOTO:  A pre-construction Midway.

"Traditionally sports have been unplayable on the Midway for long periods in the spring and fall because of the rain," says Hank S. Webber, vice president for community affairs. "Solving that problem will be the biggest improvement."

To solve that problem, construction workers are raising the centers of the fields, contouring the land, and installing underground drainage pipes and water pumps.

The many sports clubs, intramural teams, and picnickers who use the fields will certainly welcome the improvements, but the changes are aesthetic as well as practical. The new Midway will also be prettier-with 86,000 flowering spring bulbs planted along its sides.

Indeed the $900,000 drainage project is only the second phase of a ten-year, multimillion-dollar renovation plan for the Midway Plaisance. The project was announced in 1999, and the first phase-a permanent ice rink and two-story warming house and concession area-was completed this past February.

Over the next few years workers will renovate other sections of the Midway and install special features, including a children's playground, bridges, fountains, and specialty gardens. - W.W.


 

 


  OCTOBER 2001

  > > Volume 94, Number 1


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