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Pocket Park: Calumet Fisheries Environs

Chicago, IL
Pocket Park: Calumet Fisheries Environs

The Calumet Fisheries Environs is an open plot of abandoned land behind the famous Calumet Fishery shack. Unlike most restaurants, this store's customers buy their smoked fish and french fries inside the shack and proceed to eat in their cars. There is but one run-down picnic bench outside the store, overlooking the river at 95th. However, this plot of land could be turned into a pocket park, with neighborhood residents and Calumet Fishery customers enjoying their food at the calm riverside.
Unfortunately, the plot of land is owned privately and thus, even though it's not being used, it is still under private jurisdiction. In addition, the restaurant is located in Southeast Chicago, making Calumet Fishery and legislators reluctant to build a park in an unenclosed space. They are fearful it will attract criminals or gangs and transform the park into a meeting spot for them and potentially a more violent area.
Despite these concerns, if citizens and activists in the Chicago river issue team up to advocate for the development of this park it will most definitely gain greater momentum and lead to active results. The park would create a green space behind Calumet Fishery with a multitude of picnic benches and maybe even a garden, where families can have access to the often uncapitalized recreational site--the river. Not only will the pocket park be a place for Calumet Fishery customers to take advantage of the beautiful river and bridge, but it will also enhance the deprived and underserved neighborhood. Further, in partnership with the Calumet Open Space Reserve Plan, the pocket park could be connected to bike or walking trails along the river and greatly enrich the Southeast Chicago neighborhood.
First off, the actual Calumet Fishery owners will need to approve this plan. For that to happen, city officials must work with the owners to establish a safe park atmosphere and convince them that it will bring great profit to their restaurant. Once Calumet Fishery and the city of Chicago have a specific plan of action, they must begin to advertise and engage citizens and customers alike in supporting the cause. Clearly, it serves as an advantage for all residents to have a beautiful place to enjoy a pocket of nature in the industrial South side. If Calumet Fishery, city officials and advocates, and citizens come together to support this cause, the private company will most likely be pressured to allow the abandoned plot to be used for this purpose.
Of course, such a vision often seems more like a dream or far away reality. Thus, to bring this idea to life and inspire action, it is crucial that a detailed plan of what the park could be-- images, blueprints, uses, etc.-- is shared with the public. Thus, establishing a committee of passioned citizens to work out the logistics of the park and create sample events and uses for the future is imperative. In all, transforming the Calumet Fishery Environs from an abandoned plot of land to an animate pocket park along the river's edge would be greatly beneficial to all involved, but is only possible if committed individuals work together to make it happen, as one can only imagine this pocket of prosperity if individuals can believe in it, believe it is possible.

Related topics:
Gabriella Wallk Chicago, IL

Additional link to article by Far Southeast Side, good background information on the history of the location and the struggles of that neighborhood:

Desiree Cobbins Chicago,

I support your idea. I think it's well thought out and I hope you find success. What are your next steps for this project? How can I get involved?

Caleb Williams Dolton, IL

I like how you are trying to make your community a better place

Dejhari Woodard Chicago, IL

I think that you have a really good idea. Sadly fear it might only be an idea. Since these people (owners) have valid concerns about what people might use the park for. Although I'm curious to find out what your POA ( plan of action) is if the park becomes a drug exchange. I think if you could come up with an answer to that then I think you will have a more compelling argument.

We should protest so this can really happen your great idea can happen.

Alexander Fishman Santa Monica, CA

Maybe, part of this campaign should be a plan of specific recreational events/activities or even classes offered in the area. Increased awareness and traffic can help address the concerns about the park being used in negative ways. Bird watching tour, anyone?

Don LaBonte Chicago, IL

This is a short bike ride from Chicago. Perhaps you could organize a bike ride to give people a first hand account of the space you're looking to redesign?