Safeway Inc., owners of Dominick’s, were on hand July 18 to present a $25,000 donation to the Grandmother Park Initiative. The initiative aims to raise money to convert the property at 1125 Dewey Ave. into a park dedicated to toddlers and their families or caregivers. On hand were the co-founders of the Initiative, Gay Riseborough and Mary Trujillo, along with representatives from Dominick’s, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, and State Representative Robyn Gabel.
Two grandmothers, Ms. Riseborough and Ms. Trujillo, said they were out walking in west Evanston one sunny summer morning in 2009, talking about their 4- year-old grandsons. They agreed that there was no place to take them to play when the little boys visited the neighborhood, that there was no place for any small children to play out-of-doors and that something ought to be done. Quickly discovering that the City had no money for parkland acquisition or development, the two ladies decided to do it themselves. A poster at a neighborhood block party attracted others and soon a committee was formed, non-profit status acquired and “Grandmother Park” was off and running.
The initiative partnered with Openlands, a nonprofit metropolitan conservation organization. Openlands purchased the property, the site of a since-demolished, burned-out house, and is holding the space for the group as the group’s members continue to raise money to purchase and develop the lot into a park.