During our 2022 Parks as Democracy? Luncheon and Conference, we celebrated individuals and groups who do so much for Chicago's parks and park users. Click here to return to the full list of VIP (Volunteers-in-Parks) Awardees.
River North Residents Association
The River North Residents Association (RNRA) is a volunteer-led non-profit community organization, working to protect and enhance the quality of life in River North. Key to their success is encouraging strong collaboration and communication between residents, businesses, and government officials. Through their leadership and advocacy efforts, RNRA created several committees comprised of civic-minded residents working together on a wide range of issues affecting the neighborhood. These include a Commerce Committee, Development and Land Use, Family, Pet Owners, Public Safety, River North Clean Streets, and the one FOTP is most familiar with – the Parks Committee which stewards A. Montgomery Ward Park.
Years ago, FOTP and RNRA worked together to rename that riverfront park near the old Montgomery Ward headquarters in honor of Chicago’s defender of an “open, clear, and free” lakefront. We have continued in relationship over the years as RNRA’s Parks Committee plays many of the roles of a Park Advisory Council, advocating for and stewarding the park, including participating in our annual Earth Day clean ups and also in the Chicago Parks Foundation’s Pitch In For Parks.
This year, they really ramped up their advocacy for Ward Park and other riverfront greenspace opportunities in the midst of Chicago’s casino siting process. After the city announced plans to bring a casino to Chicago, RNRA became the most prominent neighborhood association working with Aldermen Reilly and Hopkins to vigorously oppose the Bally’s Tribune site casino development, with the potential impacts on the small Ward Park across the river and the inadequacy of green space in the plan being among some of their key concerns. Since the City Council approved the proposal, RNRA has remained actively engaged in encouraging changes to the plan to reduce negative impacts to the surrounding community, the residents of Chicago, and the natural environment. And just this week, we learned that the latest response to their advocacy is Bally’s scrapping of its plan for an outdoor concert area in favor of a riverfront park and a dog park, in alignment with some of RNRA’s demands.
Thank you, River North Residents Association!