Daley legacy includes public building boom

April 11, 2011 4:18:27 PM PDT
Richard M. Daley broke ground for the last time as Chicago's mayor at a South Side police station Monday.

The groundbreaking in the 1400-block of South Blue Island Avenue at the site of the new Chicago Police Department's 12th District Headquarters was part of Daley's farewell tour, or neighborhood appreciation tour. Many public buildings were completed during Daley's 22 years in office and there's a less than optimistic construction forecast for the immediate future.

"Chicago is one of the few cities -- and I underline that one of the very few cities across the nation -- that continues to build new police stations, fire stations, and even libraries," Mayor Daley said.

"This is something that's well-deserved for the men and women of the 12th district and this neighborhood. I'm glad to see it coming," Acting Police Supt. Terry Hillard said.

The $41 million project is the eleventh new police station built under the daley administration's "neighborhoods alive" program. The new buildings are virtually identical in design and size and feature community space for non-law enforcement activities. public libraries--55 new or renovated since 1989--are more evidence of daley's public building boom...as well as new fire stations and schools. In the mayor's 22 years...well over a billion dollars worth of construction...much of it made possible by tax increment financing (TIF).

"TIF is the key of economic development of the city. If you didn't have TIF, you wouldn't have any economic development. We would not be standing here," Mayor Daley said. Alderman Bob Fioretti said TIFs--which set aside tax revenues for use in designated neighborhoods--were given a bad rap in the recent city election campaign.

"Fifty percent of what the TIF spending has been to build new schools. And if we use it for fire stations and police stations...those are the things we need to focus on," Ald. Bob Fioretti, Ward 2, said. Despite the city's worsening deficits, the mayor predicted good news on the public building front as he continues the farewell tour.

"It's gonna be good. We'll have an announcement this week. You'll be happy. You'll be smiling," Daley said.