Ping Tom field house moving forward
Pool confirmed, city sets timeline for construction at 18th and Wentworth
03/07/2012 10:00 PM
Ping Tom is Chicago’s park that just won’t stop growing.
Just a few months after the new expansion of the park was completed north of 18th Street along the Chicago River, the city is officially moving forward on plans for a new field house, complete with a pool.
The field house will sit north of 18th Street and west of Wentworth Avenue, across the train tracks from the new expansion.
The project will have a total budget of about $13 million, all told. With that money, the park district will build a new 28,000 square foot field house with a gym, fitness center, two club rooms and a competitive swimming pool.
There was a question at one point about whether there would be enough money left over for a pool at Ping Tom after building the field house, but Scott Hanlon, a member of the Chicago Park District’s board and a former member of Ping Tom Park’s advisory council, said they found ways to save money elsewhere.
In fact, some unexpected surprises underneath the northwest part of Ping Tom helped encourage a decision that ended up saving money. Originally, the field house was planned to sit along 18th Street, but when they started checking out the site, they found remnants of the former rail yard that sat on the site just a few feet underground, as well as ground water.
On top of that, the north end of the park has a higher elevation, which would have led water runoff from the athletic fields to go downhill towards the field house, creating problems. That would have been immensely expensive to remove and prepare for a pool. So they decided to build the field house elsewhere on the site, on the north end of the park.
Hanlon said that while the community wanted the field house to be on 18th Street, they understood that it wasn’t the best option in this case. It also had the effect of saving about $3.5 million on the project — enough money to add a pool to the site.
“The community was very agreeable to [the move], given the large amount of money that was saved,” Hanlon said. “If we hadn’t moved it, we could have had chronic leakage.”
According to a timeline from the city’s Public Building Commission, which coordinates all construction projects for the city, planning should be completed by this summer, with construction beginning fall 2012 and finishing by fall 2013.
This article has been corrected from the original version that appeared online and in print to reflect the correct timeline for the field house's construction.