Lollapalooza clean-up at Grant Park expected to be done in about a month

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The final stage of the resodding of Butler Field in Grant Park, after Lollapalooza. Wednesday, September 14, 2011. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

The $1 million repair project at Grant Park continues, one month after Chicago’s front yard was wrecked by a messy mix of heavy rain and big crowds at the Lollapalooza music fest, city park officials said this week.

Weather permitting, the new sod should take root, damaged plant beds will be restored and new mulch put down – and the entire project complete by mid-October, said Adam Schwerner, director of the Department of Natural Resources for the park district.

While the entire park was damaged – hardest hit was the southern end of the park where the three-day concert was staged in August, Schwerner explained.

Work, including rehabbing the ballfields, laying new sod and replacing 200 damaged lilac bushes, are complete at Hutchinson Field, a stretch bounded by Lake Shore Drive on the east, Columbus Drive on the west, Arvey Field on the south and Balbo on the north. At nearby Butler Field, sodding that started after Jazz Fest over Memorial Day weekend continues this week – particularly the area around the Petrillo Music Shell.

“So what we have is a new lawn there,” Schwerner said of Butler and Hutchinson fields. “It’s never looked better.”

Bob O’Neill, head of the Grant Park Conservancy, echoed those sentiments.

“Both fields look better than they did before Lollapalooza because of the new sod and the consistent green through the whole field,” O’Neill said in an e-mail to the Sun-Times.

The $1 million repair tab is being picked up by the concert’s promoters, C3, as part of a contract to use the park district land for the annual music fest.

Organizers of a local softball tournament demanded the park district prep and re-open some of the ball diamonds at lower Hutchinson field in time for a long-scheduled tournament last weekend, Schwerner said. And it was ready, but not before crews cleared debris, graded the land and remade and resodded an area that staged not only Lollapalooza but an even more monumental event three years ago: President Obama celebrating his 2008 White House victory with the hometown crowd.

While he acknowledges the area that’s getting new sod has been cordoned off to allow the grass to take root, Schwerner said most of the park is open.

“Ninety percent of the park is open and ready for use.”

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