$1.5 million building expansion: Maplewood Playlot Park inspiration for other communities


Grace Kuklinski Rappe and Michael Lange discuss the proposed interior layout

In a partnership between the Chicago Park District, 1st Ward  Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno and the community, $1.5 million has been raised to build a new field house in Maplewood Playlot Park, 1640 N. Maplewood Ave. that meets the needs of current neighbors.

A new 3,200 square foot building, sitting on the footprint of the brick box post World War II structure, will accommodate more flexible space for programming, explains Michael Lange, Lake Front Planning, Planning and Construction, Chicago Park District. One large space may become two spaces, depending on the needed usage, allowing for an increase in programming and possibly staff. 

Ground breaking is expected to be around June 1, according to Grace Kuklinski Rappe, Principal, RATIO Architects, Inc., and the opening to be a Halloween celebration. RATIO is the design architectural firm and the architect of record on the project. 


Tiffany Kessel, Park Supervisor, on right talks with two community members

The renovation of this park, tucked in a neighborhood which includes frame structures, three blocks west of Western Ave. and half a block north of North Ave., has allowed residents to tailor the space to their current needs. For example, during the planning meetings, the many young families in the area made it known that there is a greater need for more programming, swings and play areas rather than a basketball court. 

"These changes will help change the perception of the area," explained Kuklinski Rappe. "The Chicago Park District is doing a great job at encouraging community participation as they look at renovating these pocket parks." There are about 20 to 30 of them around the City. Each an opportunity for another community to effect change in their neighborhood.


Maplewood Park as pictured on their website

Established in 1948 as a one acre park, Maplewood was one of land purchases by the Chicago Board of Education after WWII to create small pocket parks around the City. The Bureau of Parks and Recreation subsequently improved the property with a sand box, a compact brick recreation building, and a play field that could be flooded for ice skating in winter, according to the Chicago Park District. Property ownership was transferred to the Park District from the Board of Education in the late 1980s.





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