The Chainlink

Clark Park is a pristine river front park which contains acres of green space and a half mile river front trail, soccer fields, native gardens and a state-of-the-art BMX trail. Also, it has a public canoe/kayak launch and is a recognized butterfly sanctuary and bird watching habitat.

We oppose constructing a 2 acre sized boat warehouse/crewing facility which will negatively impact the park - it will be too large for Clark Park and introduce a 3 story building, surrounded by concrete, increased vehicle traffic, and will interrupt existing activities at the park. The public demands a period of public review to investigate moving the facility to a larger park or a different location.

A much smaller boathouse facility could be constructed at Clark Park, containing canoes/kayak, badly needed washrooms and a public water source, concessios and possible bike rental. Green Space is the most valuable resource in the parks, especially in this one-of-a-kind riverfront park - it must be protected for future generations. 

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Carter O'Brien said:

Here's the final page in this chapter:

That's quite the optimistic headline spin.   Alderman Pawar has proven to be one of the quickest sell-outs in aldermanic history.


Thanks for the update Carter.  In addition to the annual canoe trip/dinner fundraiser, CPAC will have to scramble to find new volunteers to maintain the native garden, once a new one is planted.  Unfortunately, it takes several years for a native garden to look good.  I wonder if the city will remove the bird/butterfly sanctuary signage. 

lorraine reder said:

Carter O'Brien said:

Here's the final page in this chapter:

That's quite the optimistic headline spin.   Alderman Pawar has proven to be one of the quickest sell-outs in aldermanic history.


Grand opening of the newly named "WMS Boathouse" (yeah, WMS Gaming bought the naming rights along with a stretch of Roscoe Street) is tomorrow, October 19, 2013, from 8:45-2:00, 3400 North Rockwell.

I rented a kayak there a few weeks ago--one of the new buildings was already open.

While I never visited this park before the construction of these buildings, I have to say that I found them very attractive and pleasant.

There is a very generous amount of bike parking near these buildings. When I was there the bikes racks were behind a construction fence but presumably they are now accessible.

Looking forward to seeing this!

I like the way the final building turned out.  Given that the space it now occupies was mostly emply field with a small tree line, there's wasn't a ton of disruption to the existing park.

Looks like they're offering a lot of fairly reasonably priced options for people interested in rowing.  Its usually such an expensive sport to partake in, so its nice to see.  There's opportunities for middle/high school rowers to get scholarships for participation. 

For high school rowers (especially women) it can be a great way to get a college scholarship 

  • 17.88% of male rowers are offered rowing scholarships
  • 55.50% of female rowers are offered rowing scholarships

The Guerilla Flotilla conducted its own Grand Opening of the "Boyd Boathouse" on August 10th.

"I like the way the final building turned out.  Given that the space it now occupies was mostly empty field with a small tree line, there's wasn't a ton of disruption to the existing park."

It was a horrible disruption of a beautiful unimproved space. Three soccer fields were teaming with games everyday from early spring til late fall. Independent paddlers of the kayak variety filled the launch. Us old guys were able to drive to waters edge, drop boats and park. It was ADA friendly... No such access exists now. It has been turned into a monstrosity catering the the mayors daughters rowing friends.

Early on, the rowing community protested that this site was inappropriate for a rowing house for these reasons AND that the double bend in the river was hazardous for those goofy long rowing boats.

Clark Park as it was has been destroyed to serve the elite.

I had been playing at Clark Park, launching my kayak at any and all hours of the day and night since April of 2000. In the early years I'd bring huge trash bags to stow debris. At first it was spray paint cans... Yes, huge trash bags full. Later it was empty beer and liquor bottles mixed with soccer and basket balls. These were distributed to the dozens of little kids hanging out at the waters edge with their families.

Those 4:30am June paddles were filled with life. Three beaver lodges could be found between Addison and Lawrence. A big old turtle would sun itself in the same spot everyday on the east bank north of Montrose. There was a green heron rookery on the west bank along the park stretch north of Irving where the Army Corp of Engineers will strip cut all of the trees.

The the soccer families are gone.

The fishermen are gone.

I have not been able to paddle this favorite spot for two years since they closed it up. The new dock does not afford even a reasonable launch site for a solo kayaker. There is no convenient way for me and other older paddlers to get our kayaks to the rivers edge save for driving down the path between the buildings... Something I will save for those 4:30am June paddles.

The community was screwed.

The 2012 Clark Park Plan

Click the link and you can read all about it but here's the short version...

Planned improvements:

  1. Chicago Park District boat house facility with fieldhouse
  2. Park District, Public Schools & Chicago Cubs baseball stadium
  3. Richard Clark memorial
  4. Connect Clark to California Park with Addison underpass and bridge across the Chicago River. Work being done by CDOT.
  5. Relocation of river front garden

Major recommendations:

  1. Move active multi purpose athletic fields east of Rockwell
  2. Large multipurpose field to be artificial turf and 360’ x 210’ if space allows
  3. West of Rockwell to become passive recreation
  4. Create new garden areas west of Rockwell
  5. New Playground near fieldhouse / boat house
  6. Lease Melrose Right of Way from City for park purposes
  7. Create additional parking on property east of Rockwell
  8. Landscaping should use native species where ever possible
  9. Park District and advisory council to work together on programming
  10. Move food concession to an aesthetically pleasing location
  11. Remove and replace dead trees in woods as needed
  12. New drinking fountains and lawn hydrants
  13. Parking study
  14. Create loading zone near boat launch
  15. Align park walkways and future trail connection to Horner Park
  16. Add bike racks

The park has a lot of space dedicated to the BMX trail (a great thing) and I didn't see anything in the plan about encroaching on that space, except to clear some dead and junk trees out. Bikers might need to learn to share the goodies with our fellow gentry; arguing that the boathouse will take up green space next to a bike track smacks more than a little bit of "I got mine, you go away" NIMBYism. Especially since many of the improvements planned would benefit not just the canoe/kayak/skull people but everyone.

Pay no attention to Tim Norris, he only joined the Chainlink to complain about the boat house back in 2012. He was talking half truths back the too.


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