In a message on January 10, 2023, the Chicago Park District informed the Welles Park Parents Association that it would not accept the proposal for lights at the baseball and softball diamonds at Welles Park.
Originally presented to the Welles Park Advisory Council over three years ago, the request led to strong responses both in support and against in the community and among PAC members. The Advisory Council worked closely with 47th Ward Alderman Matt Martin’s Office to share information on the proposal and collect feedback from the community. More complete information on the proposal and the PAC’s efforts to clarify questions raised by the community can be found here and here.
While the Park Advisory Council did not take an official position on the proposal, we support increased and diverse use of Welles Park by all and look forward to working with WPPA to make space for all those interested in their terrific baseball and softball program.
A good summary of the proposal and Park District response can be found in this Block Club Chicago article by Alex V. Hernandez.
Letter from Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño:
For over three decades, the Welles Park Parents Association has been a strong partner with the Chicago Park District, providing thousands of our Chicago youth an opportunity to play recreational softball and baseball in our Chicago Parks. Your vision is aligned with the Chicago Park District to provide these fun, safe, and learning opportunities, and we thank you for your strong volunteer support and fundraising efforts to support local parks over the years.
The Park District has thoroughly considered your proposal to add sport lighting to Welles Park in an effort to expand baseball and softball program times at the park. As you know, there have been multiple stakeholder and community discussions on this matter as well as multiple surveys distributed to gauge community input on your proposal. Because of the large community opposition to this proposal, especially concentrated to residents who live near the park as shown in the most recent survey, the Park District cannot at this time support your proposal to add lighting to Welles Park. This decision was made in consultation with Alderman Martin of the 47th Ward in which Welles Park resides as well as the local community.
We understand this decision may be disappointing to the leadership, parents and kids of your organization who have long advocated for this proposal. Although we cannot move forward with your proposed lighting improvements at Welles Park, the Park District is committed to working with you to explore other solutions to meet your goal of expanding programming opportunities for baseball and softball. With over 700 ballfields across the city, our team is committed to working with your organization to identify other parks open for your program and to collaborate on upgrades to diamonds if needed to support additional play on those fields.