City Council is scheduled to award a contract Monday to Evanston-based Teska Associates for a conceptual design of an expansion of Mason Park in the 2nd Ward.

And the Council is also scheduled Monday to award a $200,000 contract to Agency Landscape + Planning of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to develop a strategic plan for all of the city’s parks and green space.

The Mason Park project with Teska involves four parcels of land between Davis and Lake streets that once formed part of the route for the Mayfair branch line of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway.

The city acquired three of the parcels last year and hopes to acquire the fourth, the parcel closest to Lake Street, soon, all through the county’s no-cash bid program.

In a memo to council members, Stefanie Levine, a senior project manager for the city, says the rail line was established in the 1880s as a way to divert freight traffic off the Main C&NW line running down Green Bay Road.

A century later, when operation of the rail line was discontinued, the land was split into small parcels and sold privately.

With the patchwork of parcels and a high-tension powerline running along the right-of-way, she says, “development along the corridor has been severely challenged.”

And, she says, the lack of a clear route across the former railroad property creates a safety hazard for neighborhood students heading to Evanston Township High School.

Levine says the design work is intended to also close a gap in the city’s bike network, improve traffic safety on the east side of the intersection of Church Street with Dodge Avenue and investigate the cost of burying the overhead power lines running along the former railbed.

Neighborhood residents have been looking for solutions to redevelop various sections of the Mayfair property for decades.

Parks strategic plan

In a memo explaining the strategic plan project, Levine says the city last prepared a strategic plan for its 260 acres of parkland in 2000, although it did a partial update to the plan as a “parks scorecard” in 2016.

She says a new parks strategic plan would let the city better set capital investment priorities and develop a more complete vision of future community needs.

The plan is expected to take a little over a year to develop and would include an inventory of parkland and public engagement and equity review components in developing the strategic plan report.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Hopefully, one of the parks will feature, at least, splash pad for the kids, which the city is definitely in need of one, a public swimming pool would be even better, but I doubt that happens at this point.

    1. Agree! It’s odd that simple and free splash pads are so common in Chicago parks but Evanston doesn’t have a single one!

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