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Welcome to hydepark.org's Cornell Park page


Elected January 2020- Norm Bell, President. Vice President Ginni Cook. Secretary and Treasurer Gail Parry.
Norm's new email is normwbell@gmail.com.


See our lovely park-- nature play area now has most of the "equipment" and is in active use by kids. Native plants are in. The Kiosk is under construction. Two beautiful hand-carved benches were installed Sept. 2019 by the nature play area. Gift of Carol Gitler.

For 2018 Cornell again received a SECC Neighborhood Enhancement Grant (partners HPKCC, HP Bank, and POAH). Checking on 2019. We do have a significant Nature Play Areas grant, with choices under way.

(March 19 2019: Several of us met last week with Sean Shaffer and Jason Steger of the Chicago Park District about implementing the $10,000 capital improvement grant we received for our Nature Play Space. We discussed a number of possible improvements, which Jason estimated would cost well over the $10,000. He is going to ;price out the various possibilities with Park District contractors, then we can decide which to implement given our budget.

We do have good news on the decorative bench front. The way is now clear for us to work with the Artist, Christine Perri, to complete the installation, we are planning to prepare the sites on September 19 or 20, and install the benches on September 21 starting at 1:00. We hope some of you will come on the 21st to participate and celebrate the occasion.

Upcoming Cornell Park Events:


We are planning additional events for Cornell Park in 2018, and since everyone loves bonfires, we will be having a welcome to Autumn bonfire event in late September or early October, and will be repeating our fabulously successful Holiday Caroling and bonfire celebration in December. Other events are in the planning stage, so we will keep you posted.

Proposal for a kid's project this spring (2017). Norm writes: We've had positive feedback about having neighborhood kids germinate, grow, and plant butterfly friendly native wildflowers in Cornell Park. It looks like the afternoon of Saturday, June 3, [2-4] would be a good time to start this project. It should be fairly simple and inexpensive. We have lots of pots, and I've ordered some appropriate wildflower seeds. We'd just need to get some potting soil, some labels, and some descriptions of the plants the kids will be growing. And, of course, we need to get kids there. If anyone has any ideas about that let us know. I'm attaching a poster in progress. Any suggestions would be welcome. Flyer.

Workdays will be monthly, 1st Sat mornings- May 6. Cancelled- a midweek mulching event will be scheduled.

See the "design menus" HERE- http://bluestem.info/cornellnatureoasis/design-ideas-for-nature-play-area.html

Ginni Cook writes: The small pocket park on the east side of Cornell Avenue between 54th and 55th has recently been receiving attention from a Park Advisory Committee. They would like the empty space which formerly held deteriorating playground equipment to be filled with a Nature Play Space. Other changes will eventually include native plants, and re-constructing the front and back entrance areas. Before the plans are implemented they seek community input from the neighbors. Please attend and learn what's happening in that spot of our neighborhood, and make your comments and suggestions.

Cornell is pleased to announce it received in 2016 $523 from the Neighborhood Enhancement Grant program (SECC + HPKCC + HP Bank) and $1,500 from Hyde Park Bank for the nature play, kiosk, and nature planting actions.

WORKDAYS. Alt 1st Saturdays except winter. We will be having a workday on September 17, Saturday, 9 am (planting native plants) and October 1, from 9 to 12, to prepare for upcoming transformations of Cornell Park. (Much of the hard weeding is already done.)

There have been some really positive developments. The Chicago Park District is very supportive of our move to create a nature play area in Cornell Park, and we are moving ahead with the necessary paperwork. We received a $523.00 grant from the South East Chicago Commission to install native plants and a small informational kiosk at the front of the park, and funding for additional improvements seems likely. GP/NB

A planting with cleanup day was held May 15 with plants from the HP Garden Fair. Pictures and report: http://bluestem.info/bobolink/may-14-workday.html

Recent news
A meeting was held with Kathleen Soler after April regarding our plans for play area, planting likely in June. Our plan was approved. A kiosk proposal needs to be submitted. NEW SAND, MULCH, FIBAR (the right kind) WERE DELIVERED AND RAKED IN IN MIDDLE OF JUNE and the water fountain repaired. CPAC is proceeding with the CPD and public phases of a natural play area-- please sign our petition when asked.

The grants were made by South East Chicago Commission in partnership with Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and Hyde Park Bank, a Wintrust Community Bank. The grant is for the nature area and kiosk.

CORNELL PARK PLAYLOT/PAC HAS A WEBSITE: bluestem.info/cpac. The website includes links to articles about successful vest pocket parks.
Also find in the Park District website, http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com. information on the park as after a restoration a few years ago.
VISIT THE UPDATED WEBSITE for pictures from the cleanup June 6 2015.

This page is NOT AN OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE PAC but an informational and commentary page about the park and organization of a park advisory council (PAC) for the same. It is produced by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community's Parks Committee, co-chairs Gary Ossewaarde and Louise McCurry. Web admin. hpkcc@aol.com or George Rumsey, HPKCC president. Page written by Gary Ossewaarde

Cornell Park, a few yards north of 55th Street on the east side of Cornell, was gradually built up on land cleared during urban renewal. Much of the work was done by Sylvia and Kevin Royt, who shepherded its purchase by the Chicago Park District. The goals included a green respite (and the Royt's were ahead of their time on Green buildings and spaces) for this vest pocket park. Sylvia was the head of the PAC formed in the 1980s, and she recruited several neighbors as well as park activists throughout the neighborhood.

Over the years the park was frequently neglected/ overgrown, attracted unacceptable activities especially in the poorly lighted back and at the set of benches in the front. It fronts on Cornell Ave. with really no exit on the back to give a sense of safety. And it has not been family and child friendly.

In response to concerns of neighbors expressed to the 5th Ward Office in spring/summer 2014, aldermanic aide Lanita Ross, people began to sign up to form a PAC, and the first, pre organizational meeting held in September 2014 at the ward office. Ideas of what would were there were shared at the meeting and further refined towards suggestions and actions since. And we will be surveying park users and neighbors. More people have come on board. Support is offered by the 5th Ward Office, Chicago Park District, Friends of the Parks, and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Parks Committee. People can contact Lanita at lanita.ross@cityofchicago.org or Louise McCurry (of HPKCC and Jackson Park Advisory Council) at commissioner751@comcast.net.

Tell the above what YOU would like to see there!!- and come to the next meeting...

Elections were held at the 1st anniversary meeting, February 25, 2016.
Elected: President Norman Bell, VP Ginni Cook, Secretary Steven Lucy, Treasurer Gail Parry. There are about 20 declared members. The council has bylaws and three committees-
Gardening and landscape, Maintenance and Safety, and Repair-replacement-improvement of park Facilities. The
The council held a well-attended walk through with Park District staff and workdays.
The council proceded in March 2015 to establish guiding principles and is moving toward a 3-year plan.
At a special meeting July 6 bylaws changes covering quorum and related matters were passed and the treasurer was authorized to inaugurate fiscal agency and bank account through the Chicago Parks Foundation.

Minutes of recent meetings are now on our website: http://bluestem.info/cpac/ and show the thought and work going into this park.

At the January 2016 meeting, the council reviewed and made slight revisions to a plan regarding play equipment and adjacent sections and CPAC will be polled on this. The three priority items at present are: a natural play area (materials and labor for the council being ID'd and approvals explored), a natural plant palette for specific areas, and a wood kiosk to be built. Funds for the latter will be sought through a FOTP seed grant, application being written.




An informal meeting for Cornell PAC was held at Morry's Deli, corner of 55th and Cornell, November 17 2014, Monday, 6:30 pm. Paperwork needs including proposed bylaws and submission, and recruitment of members and outreach including broad announcement were reviewed. Individuals volunteered to run for officers. Several committees were suggested. Short-term needs or projects brought up include regular PD and volunteer cleanup (and regular emptying of the trash can), a rat problem, pruning, the barrier of artificial logs at the rear, and request for new play equipment. Suggested for later include raised/contained garden beds. Neighbors who regularly tend the park were praised.

From Louise McCurry: Thank you all for a productive, positive meeting at Morry's Monday.

Meeting notes
Present: Gail Parry, Norm Bell,Sam Cholke, Peter McCarthy,Gary Ossewaarde, Louise McCurry.
We reviewed the Advisory Council Guidelines and Bylaw Samples. Found at Chicagoparkdistrict.com.
We filled out the Letter of Intent to Form a PAC ( and Rick Shaheen ,Midway supervisor,is Cornell Park Supervisor and Rick signed and Faxed it to Maria Stone.
We chose the 4th Monday of the month for meetings.
Our goals:
1.repair border logs
2. Replace play equipment
3. Build a small raised garden
4. Meet w security re vagrants
And panhandlers
5 increase garbage pickup
6 increase community involvement
Officers interest expressed by
Peter McCarthy president
Norm Bell VP
Sam Cholke secretary
Gail Perry treasurer

Facilities and Grounds and Garden
P. R. And public information

New members
Each of us has a contact list

The first formal meeting was held December 9 at Catholic Theological Union. Councils and park district expectations were explained, the goodly group in attendance set forth ideas for the park, officers were nominated, and the election meeting date, January 5, was set.

NEXT MEETINGS. November 23, Monday, 6 pm. Catholic Theological Union (304).

Cleanup November 7, Saturday, 9 am.

Committee Meeting

Keeping the playground over the next 3-5 years is a current consensus. Park Principles discussed in April:

1. A clean and safe space to be enjoyed by people of all ages while respecting and balancing the needs of the immediate neighbors and other park users.

2. An example of nature in the city.

3. Low maintenance and sustainable.

We should also keep in mind budget realities.