Mayor Richard M. Daley today joined residents and elected officials of the South Side for a visit to Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary School, 955 W. Garfield, for a ribbon cutting ceremony of the school’s new addition.
“Continuing to invest in our schools and communities gives students and staff renewed energy and an improved learning environment. No other city in the nation has taken such a major step to assure that our children learn in modern, up-to-date environments,” Daley said at another stop on the “Neighborhood Appreciation Tour” he is making before he leaves office in May.
The new 4,800 square foot annex building houses a kitchen, dining area, accessible bathrooms and provides additional educational space. A corridor was built to connect the south facing entrance of the existing building to the new annex.
The project also included a state-of-the art 20,000 square foot artificial turf field with fencing and benches to accommodate outdoor play and recreation. Additional landscaping was provided around the new annex.
“In the competition for the jobs of the tomorrow, which are the key to Chicago’s future, nothing is more important than continuing to improve our schools,” Daley said. “We must pay special attention to improving our neighborhood elementary and high schools, as we are here with this new addition.”
During the visit to Holmes Elementary, Mayor Daley highlighted some of the major accomplishments that the City and the residents of the 15th and 16th Wards on the South Side, have accomplished together:
- Under Mayor Daley’s leadership, three new neighborhood schools were constructed for students of the community:
- Richard J. Daley Elementary Academy, built in 1997, is one of four Back of the Yards Magnet Cluster schools that offers a Math and Science Magnet Cluster Program.
- Claremont Academy, completed in 2004, is a pre-kindergarten – 8th grade school boasting 28 classrooms, a library, a number of science and math labs, art and music rooms, and additional special education classrooms.
- Miles Davis Academy, the first school building to open under the “Modern Schools Across Chicago” program opened in 2008 for children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The school’s engineering program offers age-appropriate engineering curriculum.
- Over the years, the Chicago Public Schools have also built new additions, campus parks and playlots at 15 other schools in the area. Several schools offer focused academic opportunities such as math and science, world language programs, technology programs, and comprehensive gifted curriculum.
- Built in 2007, the new Kennedy-King College is located in the heart of Englewood and offers students state-of-the-art facilities including 22 classrooms, TV and radio production studios, a teaching restaurant for culinary students, applied sciences laboratories, vocational trades shops, and athletic amenities.
- The City gave a $1.9 million grant to complete the Mitzi Freidheim Englewood Child and Family Center in 2007, which provides child care options for residents for 234 infants and toddlers.
- The City opened the new West Englewood Branch Library at 1745 W. 63rd St. in 2003.
- More than $4 million has been invested in TIF-assisted public infrastructure, business and housing improvements in local communities including: retail establishments on the 5200 block of South Ashland Ave.; accessibility improvements on the sidewalks around Holmes, May and Nicholson schools; and the sale of 10 City-owned vacant lot parcels fro the construction of five residential homes for at-risk youth.
- The City has invested in several housing programs for residents of these communities, including:
- The Diverse Development, which provides 23 affordable single-family homes on scattered sites and under the New Homes for Chicago Program, and up to 15 single-family homes will be built as part of the Englewood Estates project.
- Seniors on the South Side have several affordable places to call home, including: Lawn Terrace Apartments, Churchville Manor Apartments, Churchville Supportive Living. All three projects were supported through the City’s various affordable housing development programs.
- The City has also supported affordable and supportive housing options for low-income and formerly homeless families and individuals, including Clara’s Village and Englewood Apartments.
- As part of the City’s efforts to stabilize neighborhoods by getting vacant foreclosed homes up-to-code and occupied as quickly as possible, the City has acquired 36 units in 16 properties and turned many of them over to private developers for rehabilitation and has already sold one of these homes.
- The City has also made a number of improvements to parks and open space throughout the community, including:
- Substantial renovations to Gage, Sherman, Cornell and Hermitage parks.
- Sixteen new playgrounds at Moran, Sherman, Little Venice, Micek, Cornell, Edmonds, Ogden, Back of the Yards, Carpenter, Gage, Wolcott, Hermitage, Montgomery, Oakley, Marquette and Lindblom parks.
- The City has invested in public safety infrastructure throughout the community. The new 8th District police station at 3420 W. 63rd St. was built in 2006 and a new police station for the 7th District at 1438 W. 63rd St. was completed in 2009, reflecting the City’s ongoing commitment to equip our first responders with the most current facilities and technology to do their jobs.
- In addition, the City has worked to implement several strategic initiatives in the community to enhance public safety including:
- Partnerships with local police districts and community members to establish block clubs, task forces, and various federally-funded programs that have resulted in anti-violence measures.
- Programs in schools that connect officers with young people in proactive ways to help kids turn away from gangs and violence and instead become involved in positive activities in the community.
- Support for the Party Patrol Program, which is designed to protect young people in the community from the dangers of underage drinking.
- The Chicago Department of Environment provided grant funding to implement Growing Home’s Wood Street Farm and Farm Market to provide paid transitional employment and comprehensive employment readiness to individuals with barriers to employment.
“These projects represent only the highlights of what we have accomplished in the 15th and 16th Wards, Mayor Daley said. “I’m here today to thank every resident, every business and every not-for-profit for their service, support and cooperation on all these projects.”
“Thank you for participating in the process. Thank you for your ideas, your input and your time,” he said. “Working together we’ve brought Chicago into the 21st century, and given it a bright future. It’s been a joy and an honor to be your Mayor.”