Chicago Park District & TPL Enter Grant Agreement for Bloomingdale Trail Project

June 11, 2010

The Chicago Park District's Board of Commissioners recently approved a challenge grant of up to $450,000 to The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization, to coordinate the Bloomingdale Trail Civic Engagement and Stewardship Project.

The Chicago Park District, working with the City of Chicago, TPL, and local organizations, volunteers, and donors, plans to convert the 2.7 mile-long Bloomingdale Line into an elevated, multi-use linear park and trail, a project eventually expected to cost $60 million. The Bloomingdale Line is an elevated railroad right-of-way on Chicago's northwest side that consists of reinforced concrete retaining walls, soil, and 37 bridges where it crosses other roads. Today, railroad use of the right-of-way has virtually stopped.

Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Tim Mitchell said, "We are a proud collaborator on this infrastructure re-use project. The Bloomingdale Trail will transform a piece of Chicago's industrial heritage into an actively used recreational greenway that will include playgrounds and park improvements at various access points along the trail."

The Trust for Public Land's President Will Rogers added, "As a former resident, I can say Chicago has one of the nation's best park systems. And this agreement can serve as a national model on how municipal park systems can create more parks and trails. We look forward to working with the Chicago Parks District to make this project happen."

The challenge grant will let The Trust for Public Land put together a plan to build private philanthropy and community participation over the next two years. The grant's goals are building structures necessary to raise private and government funding; coordinate among agencies; develop sponsorship, public programming and stewardship; and generate strategies for civic engagement and volunteer participation in the construction, conservation, and use of the greenway.

TPL has worked on the Bloomingdale Trail project since 2006 when the City of Chicago and the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail asked for assistance with land acquisition, community participation, design competitions, and create the Bloomingdale Trail Collaborative as a framework for public and private sector partnerships to do the project.

The Bloomingdale Trail Collaborative has engaged nearly 25 organizations and agency departments. Under the terms of the challenge grant, The Trust for Public Land will expand participation to reach an additional 25 community and civic organizations that have already expressed an interest in playing a role in the Bloomingdale Trail development. The Trust has already secured $100,000 towards the project.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and natural places. Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has worked with landowners, community groups, and national, state, and local agencies to complete close to 4,000 land conservation projects in 47 states, protecting 2.8 million acres.

For more information about the Chicago Park District's more than 7,700 acres of parkland, 570 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 10 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, nearly 50 natural areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs, please visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com or contact the Chicago Park District at 312/742.PLAY or 312/747.2001 (TTY).