It’s been a long 21 months since construction began at the future site of Maggie Daley Park. When complete, it should be a spectacular addition to the city’s park system and a facility that can be used all year round.
For months we’ve watched as the space went from a traditional urban park to a mud pit to a concrete roof to a foam fortress then back to mud. And now it’s starting to really take shape. In the photograph below, you can actually start to make out where some of the picnic hills will be. They’re the white grofoam blocks on the left side that will soon be covered with dirt and grass and fun. On the right, the concrete base of the skating loop is now clearly visible and you can see how it ties into the existing infrastructure at the Daley Bicentennial Fieldhouse. .
But it was Richard Ward, the eagle-eyed president of the New Eastside Residents Association, who just yesterday spotted the first new tree being planted in the new Maggie Daley Park, and shared a photo with us. It’s just one tree, but one that is symbolic of the more than 1,000 new trees that will be planted on the roof of the parking garage that is hidden below the park.
When this was Daley Bicentennial Plaza, there were over 250 honey locust trees in the park. The damage being done throughout the Midwest by he emerald ash borer has taught the city that monoculture is a bad thing, so the new trees are from a greater variety of species.
But it wasn’t a chainsaw massacre at Daley Bi. 160 mature trees were saved and will be used in the children’s play area toward the south end of the new park, and about 40 of the Peanut Park trees survive.
Mr. Ward tells us that while the park’s official opening is still scheduled for the spring of 2015, a soft opening will happen in the fall of this year.