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Zitkala-Ša Park Slated to Open By July, Delayed by COVID, Weather

Zitkala-Ša Park in Lyon Park could be ready by July to welcome neighbors who have gone without their community green space since October 2019.

Construction on the park at the corner of 7th and N. Highland streets is nearly a year behind schedule due to pandemic- and weather-related delays. Upgrades include re-doing the basketball court and adding new play structures, a picnic shelter, as well as fencing and landscaping.

New signage also went up recently to reflect a name change. In December, the County Board officially renamed Henry Clay Park after Zitkala-Ša, an Indigenous rights activist who lived near the park.

Initially, the Department of Parks and Recreation set out to complete the changes by July 2020 but the pandemic caused manufacturing and shipping delays. A new timeline of December 2020 was set. Now, work is being hampered by weather, said parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

“We are progressing along as best we can, however, due to weather we have not been able to complete all the work we’d like to do,” she said.

Kalish added that many of the remaining tasks — planting, laying asphalt and safety surfaces, striping the basketball court — “are weather-sensitive and can be completed only after the weather gets a little better.”

These two complications combined led the department to move the completion date sometime between April and June 2021.

When completed, the community “will see a new basketball court, playground, open field and picnic shelter with updated site circulation, site furnishing, fencing, drainage and landscaping,” Kalish previously told ARLnow.

The park “is a heavily used facility,” the county said in a 2019 report. “The outdoor amenities for [Zitkala-Ša Park] are now past their useful life and are in need of replacement.”

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