The Justice Department has reached an agreement with the Chicago Park District requiring the city to spend $60 million to renovate and build parks and recreation programs in black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
The government had charged that the park district had discriminated against blacks and Hispanics by providing inferior recreation programs and facilities in their neighborhoods.
Assistant Attorney General William Bradford Reynolds, who heads the Civil Rights Division, said the settlement will require improvements in programs, facilities, staffing and even day-to-day cleanup and maintenance operations.
The Chicago Park District, which is separate from the city government and raises its own taxes, did not admit guilt, but agreed to spend at least $10 million each year for the next six years in renovation, landscaping and new construction, mostly in minority areas.
The consent decree, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, marks the settlement of the first lawsuit brought by the government under the anti-discrimination provisions of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which provides federal funding to cities for a number of services including recreation. The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by the government last Nov. 30.
Reynolds said that Chicago residents and community groups will have until June 7 to submit comments on the settlement to the court. U.S. District Court Judge George N. Leighton will then decide whether to approve the settlement.