Filbert fund raiser Sunday; playlot moves from home of rats towards new future

Emily Klingensmith encouraged neighbors to renovate Filbert Playlot. Credit: Medill

Run-down. Rat-infested. Moldy. These are not the adjectives you would wish to associate with your neighborhood park, but this is the reality for many residents living near Filbert Playlot Park.

After visiting Filbert with her young child last summer, Emily Klingensmith was surprised at the conditions they found. “The park has wood chips all over the ground which is a natural nesting place for rats. It has graffiti covering some places and concrete coming apart in others which creates tripping hazards for kids,” she said. The equipment is estimated to be between 20-25 years old.

Soon afterward, Ms. Klingensmith, along with fellow community members, began a campaign to renovate Filbert by creating the Friends of Filbert Playlot Park, a nonprofit community group of which Ms. Klingensmith serves as president. They learned from the Chicago Park District that park renovations are typically funded in three ways: one-third through donations from community donors, one-third from the park district itself, and one-third from their local alderman.

Since mid-August 2010, the Friends of Filbert Playlot Park have raised $22,000 from community donations and secured a $100,000 committment from Alderman Eugene Schulter to use menu money toward the park. As they continue to fundraise, the group looks to its next steps in the park renovation process.

“Our goal is to have the park renovated this year,” Ms. Klingensmith said. “The only way that will happen is if Filbert is included in the Chicago Park District’s 2011 Capital Improvement Plan. They have not finalized their budget yet, but we are optimistic that we will be included.”

This Sunday, January 30, the group will hold a fundraiser from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Family Grounds Café (3652 N. Lincoln Ave.) featuring musical guest Laura Doherty. Ms. Doherty is a local musician and long-time teacher at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Admission is $10 per person (non-crawling infants are free). 100 percent of admission sales and 25 percent of the beverage/treat sales will be donated to the playground renovation fund. Click here to sign up to attend.

*** Correction: The article had originally said Ald. Schulter would be giving a donation. The $100K is a commitment to use Ward Menu money toward the playlot. The donation is not coming personally from Schulter.***

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