Renaming of 31st Street Beach for Burroughs expected Tuesday

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The Chicago Park District will finally designate the 31st Street Beach and Park as the “Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs Beach & Park.”

U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., had lobbied heavily for the park district to include the harbor as part of the designation but failed to seal that deal.

Instead, the park and beach area, which provided recreation for thousands of residents in the public housing high-rises that once dominated the landscape, will be named for Burroughs, the co-founder of the DuSable Museum and a longtime member of the Chicago Park District.

The city is still trying to sell the naming rights to the harbor to a private company.

OPINION

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A press conference will be held Tuesday at the 31st Street beach house prior to a park district board meeting where members are expected to unanimously approve the designation.

“This means that in a public space the legacy of Margaret Burroughs will be affirmed and everlasting for thousands of people who visit that park and beach. Our next project is to raise the appropriate resources to commission a statue at the entrance of the park that will further acknowledge and affirm her legacy,” said Conrad Worrill, a co-chairman of the committee to rename the 31st Street beach and park to honor Burroughs.

With budget constraints across the board, the challenge will be for the park district to maintain this South Side beach and park in the future.

While a lot of the responsibility for upkeep definitely falls on the people who use these facilities, there has always been the perception that parks and beaches on the North Side are maintained a lot better than those on the South Side.

For instance, last week a concerned grandfather sent me a photograph of the benches spectators are forced to sit on during Chicago Park District Little League games played in Washington Park.

The single bench was rotted throughout. Worse yet, I was out there around 11:00 a.m. and the area outside the baseball diamond was strewn with litter and garbage.

“This didn’t get this way overnight. This bench has rotted away,” said Mulbe Dillard, whose grandson plays on one of the Park District teams.

<small><strong> Before and after photos of bleachers at a ball field in Washington Park.</strong></small>

Before and after photos of bleachers at a ball field in Washington Park.

It took the photograph and one phonecall from the media for the Chicago Park District to replace the dilapidated bench.

“Thank you for sharing the photo, as the Park District appreciates feedback from residents,” Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District, said in an email.

“Washington Park is cleaned daily. The bench was replaced this morning. Patrons are the eyes and ears of our parks, and we encourage them to report any damage or unsafe conditions to 312/742-PLAY,” she said.

The newly designated “Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs Beach and Park” should forever reflect the concern and love Burroughs had for her community.

When others fled the near South Side, Burroughs stayed planted and used her immense talent and creativity to preserve the rich history of African-Americans.

She did that by establishing the DuSable Museum, a cultural institution that is recognized throughout the world.

We can honor her legacy by doing our part to ensure that this piece of the lakefront lives up to her name.

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