McKinley Park Community Garden President Nicholas Efronsis shares prospective garden plans at the March 11 meeting of the McKinley Park Advisory Council as council member Heather Breems looks on.

Park Advisory Council Elects Officers, Sets 2019 Plans

Published March 13, 2019

The McKinley Park Advisory Council elected a new team of officers and set priorities and initiatives for its 2019 programs at its monthly meeting on Monday, March 11. Returning re-elected council officers include President Veronica O'Malley and Secretary Katie Flores; new officers Danny Gaichas and James Flores joined the council team, respectively, as vice president and treasurer.

The meeting also included discussion of the prospective folding of the Hoyne Park Advisory Council into the McKinley Park Advisory Council, as the Hoyne Park council has been less active recently, meeting participants noted. Both Gaichas and James Flores have been very involved at Hoyne Park, including Hoyne Park council leadership and managing the Omega Delta Youth Baseball & Softball program. New McKinley Park Supervisor Briana Soria again floated the idea of supporting Hoyne Park with programming and resources. 

Coordinating Garden Planning

Nicholas Efronsis, president of the McKinley Park Community Garden, attended the meeting to announce the garden's upcoming spring activities and inquire about coordinating Chicago Park District resources to improve the park space surrounding the garden. This area of McKinley Park, nestled between the northbound and southbound lanes of Damen Avenue, would benefit from some improvements to safety and aesthetics for both the garden area and the nearby hill used for sledding, Efronsis said.

Registration for garden plots is planned to open on March 23, Efronsis said, with seasonal garden prep to take place April 20 or May 4. His ideas for improvements include some type of low-impact barrier between the garden and southbound Damen Avenue to prevent kids visiting the garden from toddling into traffic. Another idea was planting a small grove of fruit-bearing trees at the north end of the garden. Both received tentative support from Chicago Park District representatives present at the council meeting.

Farmers Market and Stewardship Days

The seasonal McKinley Park Farmers Market looks to return in 2019, assuming it lines up its minimum number of 10 vendors, council officers said. Market manager Stef Funk said they are well on their way, with over a half-dozen vendors already signed. The council announced it is applying for a SEED grant from Friends of the Parks to help cover a stipend for personnel to help at the market, and that more volunteers and planning will be required for a successful market season.

Park stewardship days are slated for the fourth Saturday of the month from April through October. The April 27 date will also play host to an Earth Day celebration; other planned stewardship activities include bird watching and outdoor ecology education sessions, council officers said. Katie Flores noted that outreach with the Chicago Audubon Society is ongoing to bring more bird programming to McKinley Park, and that the Chicago Park Department has received an application for the park steward position at McKinley Park.

Better Pool Schedules

The council also reviewed a tentative schedule for summertime pool hours at the McKinley Park pool: A focus remains on creating longer, contiguous pool sessions that don't require mass exit and re-entry of swimmers, as well as pool policies that better support use by families, park officials said.

The next McKinley Park Advisory Council Meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, April 8, at the McKinley Park field house.


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