Unclear when state funding for AIDS Garden Chicago will be released
Over $1.4 million was appropriated in by the state for the creation of the garden, but the coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on Illinois’ purse.
Elected leaders from across the state held a virtual meeting Monday morning to give updates on a new garden and public monument dedicated to Chicago’s AIDS pandemic.
“This particular project is incredibly important to the LGBTQ community — not only to remember the many lives lost, but also [as] an enduring symbol of strength, perseverance and unity in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” state Rep. Yoni Pizer, D-Chicago, said during the meeting. “This garden will forever remind us of those we lost and all those affect by HIV and AIDS and those we must never forget.”
Pizer said over $1.4 million was appropriated in the latest Illinois budget to help construct the new AIDS Garden Chicago, 3003 N. Lakefront Trail. That’s just south of Belmont Harbor at the original “Belmont Rocks” location — a beloved place for Chicago’s gay community between the 1960s and 1990s.
The park is slated for completion next year, but it remains unclear when the state will release funding for the park, considering how the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain the Illinois’ finances.
“The plan was that with the implementation of these new revenue sources during the end of 2019,” this project and thousands of others “across every corner of the state will be well underway by now,” said Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris. “But as we all know, COVID came along and now has disrupted the funding sources for all the different projects.”
Harris said he doesn’t know when the money will be released for the garden.
The AIDS Garden Chicago is already home to artist and AIDS activist Keith Haring’s “Self Portrait,” a 30-foot-tall green sculpture. The statue remains fenced off.