February 28, 2005

A Special Place

Here is a compelling work in progress. When I dropped in, the children were busy on computers, TV games, indoor hoops, and carefully watched over. The orange kitchen area and adjoining lunchroom creates a bright, warm atmosphere. This theme flows through every room in the space. Nothing can beat a glass of milk and cookies after a day in school in a special place.

This is an amazing story of dedication and persistence. Kudos to April and Jerry, and Fluffy (the large sleeping snake) for their work, their caring, and their guidance to children after school.


Starfish 004

Starfish Learning Center
By Jerry and April Bailey

Starfish Learning Center started in our apartment in February 1997. We had one student and two old computers. We were working with youth in a church in the neighborhood and when one of the moms told us her eight-year-old daughter needed help with reading, the idea for starting an after school program was born. Word spread quickly about our fledgling center and by May, just three months later, we had nearly 60 children enrolled in the program.

We moved to a storefront on Howard St. and then to a two-flat on Bosworth when the park expansion meant that our commercial unit would be torn down. We stayed on Bosworth for nearly six years, working with a manageable 24-28 students. In June of 2004, Starfish moved to its new, permanent home at 1543 W. Howard St. Starfish offers homework help, tutoring, computer access, games, moral guidance, recreational outlets, and special outings. We also have a stage for talent shows, karaoke, and other performances, and we're planning to have an art room once we've settled in. In the summer months, we have summer camp and annual trips for the children.

Starfish 001

We provide a safe haven for children and teens after school. We support our kids academically and emotionally, and develop unique ways to make learning fun. Volunteers are welcome to help children after school, from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. (especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays).

Starfish 003 Starfish 002


Starfish is a non-profit ministry that is supported primarily by foundations and individuals. We receive no government funding, and charge no fee to the low-income families we serve. Donations are welcome. Thank you.

Starfish Learning Center
1543 W. Howard St.
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 465-4608
april@starfishchicago.com
www.starfishchicago.com

February 26, 2005

What's Your Opinion

Tuesday February 15, at the Park Council Meeting, there was a vote. The original statement came from one member stating 'let's go directly to the Mayor' and get some answers. This was in reference to the $1.5 million over budget and design cuts mentioned in the minutes and changing the design plans. Another person suggested following 'protocol' and having a meeting with the alderman to persuade him to meet with the Mayor or Tim Mitchell, of CPD with a timeline of two weeks. The second statement won the vote. Here's the result of that meeting the group (minus a couple of 'tired of excuses' people) got for their vote. Do you see either Mayor Daley or Tim Mitchell's name mentioned anywhere?

**********************************************************************

Present at today's meeting at Alderman Moore's office: Mike from Julie Hamos' office, Sr. Cecelia, Kim DeLong, Cary Steinbuck, Boyd McDowell, John Fitzgerald from HACC, Emily Gruszka, Mike Land, Eva McCann by phone, and the Alderman.

The Alderman began by giving us a summary of the information he had just received from the Park District. The internal estimate conducted by the CPD does indeed show the project to be $1.5 million over budget. They have sent the project back to Perkins & Will for some cost cutting. The cost cutting will not affect the size or design appearance of the building. The changes could include things like different floor materials, contracting out the furniture, and ventilation design although all of these are purely speculative at this point. According to the CPD, all of the changes will be things that would not be apparent to the eye. The redesign will be done by late March or early April and the Alderman has requested that Perkins & Will and the CPD meet with the community to discuss and explain these changes before moving forward. The building would go out to bid in May, the contract award would be made in July or August and the notice to proceed could happen in September with a groundbreaking in October.

We discussed our concerns with this information.
1) Apparently the CPD has known about this overbudget estimate since possibly November of 2004. We request information as to why they are just now redesigning the building.
2) We would like this timeframe to be moved up since we have already waited
so long.

The Alderman is going to contact Gia Biagi at the CPD who makes some
decisions about the fieldhouse project and arrange a meeting for us with
her. We request that Perkins & Will complete the redesign for community
comment by March so that construction can definitely begin this summer.

Eva, Kim and myself are working to ensure that that meeting happens and we
will inform everyone when it is scheduled.


**************************************
Emily Gruszka
Family Matters Community Organizer
Sign

February 24, 2005

Another Wasteland Story

Wasteland 005

This bright facade was home to Dollar Buster at 1551 W. Howard.
I’m not sure if he had a booming business, but he had problems with the undesirables on the street. Between watching for shoplifters and trying to get the street people to move along, the problem finally escalated. It was still warm weather when some young men came in the store smoking cigarettes. They were asked to smoke outside. Instead, the thugs pushed the shopkeeper into the window. It broke under the force shattering and cutting him. According to the few neighboring shopkeepers, his injuries required a stay in the hospital.

The shopkeeper paid his rent and turned in the keys 12/31/04.
His wake up call was that keeping shop here wasn’t worth his life.

That is the end of the Dollar Buster. One more contribution to the continual decline of Howard Street.

Of course, a doggy park $for the Dogs downtown will boost commerce, but not a field house for children up here!

Are we being discriminated against? We have low income people of all colors, we have medium income people of all colors yet there's always a stall on the field house. Is it the lack of commerce on Howard? Just what dynamic is keeping Howard Street this way? Could it be the. . . . .?

Let's start connecting the dots...just never know what the big picture will be.

February 22, 2005

A New Twist On Park Dollar$

$for the Dogs

Gale Park Field House has been on hold for how long? It went through the design process, the approval process, the ground has been tested and broken, even the Mayor has been here, right? How long was this Dog Park in the works? Not as long as Gale Field House.

This latest trendy canine park is twice the size of the Harold Washington Playlot. Sister Cecilia Fandel, Eva McCann, Kim DeLong, Emily Gruzka, John Jaffe, myself and many others have been working on this project for over a year. It became one roadblock after another to build a park for children, not dogs.

The doggie parks treat their clientele better than our children. Last summer there wasn't a working water fountain in Gale Park. It wasn't until last summer when Daniel Romero of The Good News Community Kitchen started coaching baseball that the problem was noticed. It wasn't feasible to have thirsty children crossing Howard to the clinic for water. All it took was one concerned person to remedy the broken fountain. Before that no one seemed to care.

Now we've gotten a curve ball tossed at us that the Gale Field House is $1.5 million over budget...allegedly because of 'zoning' and the years wasted on hold. The Board of Education turned it over to the Park District and we're still on hold. Years passed and the rising cost of building materials has become the latest excuse to delay building. The 'zoning' issue is 'rectified' so someone needs another excuse to stall. The latest buzz word is 're-design'. Re-design into what? We've heard this story before on the Howard El that should have been under construction by now.

What's the REAL reason? Maybe the powers don't feel it necessary to spend money on an alleged low income neighborhood that has been more or less ignored? A promise is meant to be kept...not broken. These are children, not political foes.

If there's money for the sophisticated canines of downtown, then someone should dig deep and find $1.5 Million for the children of Gale Park. Enough of the Grant Park Folly. No more re-designs, no more excuses.

Is anyone feeling a little upset YET? Are you tired of feeling that North of Howard is Ignored and Forgotten?

It's time to let them hear how you feel. Just be nice!

ContactPark

Quality of Life?

Over the weekend I visited a friend who lives in the Broadmoor. After we finally got through the ‘special security’ entrance (portal is the high tech name) I saw what some good tenants had complained about. Now we’re talking ‘quality of life’ here. If you have a weak stomach or can’t deal with the fact that people have to tolerate such conditions, don’t read on.

We were able to use the elevator – it was working. It was also filthy and smelled of urine. Trash and cigarette butts were on the elevator floor. We reached her floor and I followed her down the hallway.

The brown spot on the gray carpet is exactly the kind of stuff that hits fans in jokes.


QualityofLife 001

Most of the human excrement had been removed, but what was left had been ground into the carpet like a dog marking his spot. Health and sanitation issue? You bet. Human behavior issue? Definitely.

Just as we made the turn to her apartment I noticed a dead fire extinguisher on the floor. The non-tenant nasty people get in the building somehow, get high, graffiti the stairwells, and spray extinguishers for ‘fun’. There are empty red fire extinguisher boxes along the hallways. The smoke detector was chirping, obviously in need of new batteries. Safety issue? Security issue?

QualityofLife 002

Since it was my first visit to my friends place, I just had to see the months long work order I'd heard about. I saw the roughly patched up ceiling from a leaky upstairs radiator. The texture of the walls/ceiling was stucco but no effort had been made to match the patch. Then I noticed the mess the repairman left behind.

QualityofLife 003

Good plaster must be really hard to find. Handymen who pick up the mess they make must really be scarce. This was left for the tenant to clean up. Work Order Complete

We had our sit down, catch up visit and all too soon it was time to leave. So we took the stairwell tour to avoid the malodorous elevator.

Yet another odor awaited us….and the mice, and the roaches.

QualityofLife 004


Quality of life issues?

February 21, 2005

Make It Right

Sign

This sign has been standing for how long now? It lists the proud people who care about the children of Chicago. So far it appears they do care about the children living near the other two ward 49 parks with field houses. Are the children of Gale Park any less deserving of a field house/community center than those growing up near Loyola or Pottawattamie Parks?

Eleven years have passed since this project began. How many of the 18-20 year olds getting in trouble today might have taken a different path had the field house been there for them when they were 8-11?

Why do the children of Gale Park have to participate in special park programs elsewhere? Eva McCann, CAPS facilitator, expressed frustration over the fact that Gale Park children aren't even bussed to other areas to participate in park programs. The children/parents/or other organizations are responsible for the commute. Many youth are intimidated by turf areas they would enter along the way to the programs. So rather than walking in danger zones where they could be harmed, they stay here.

They're no different than other children are they?

They can't help it if this pocket became a political wasteland. They didn't create politics, federally funded slumlords, bigotry, or gangs,...they're just children. Or have they been written off as hopeless?

What will be done to make this right? They're just children.

GaleParkAerial

LoyolaAerial

PottowattomiAerial

February 18, 2005

Gale Park - Hot Air Balloon View

GaleParkAerial

The ‘zoning issue’ that was just recently resolved concerned the remnants of an alleyway on the west end of the park that disappeared years ago, say 1999-2000. This ‘issue’ is what became the most recent reason to put the field house on hold.

Now is that any way to run a business? The map clearly states it is zoned RT4, yet there were 'oversights'.

So while bureaucrats overlooked a zoning issue somehow, the the economy changed, the price of steel and other commodities rose, and the architects renderings must now be changed to accommodate all the mistakes.

If this is allowed to be ‘ignored’ by the community any longer, you may drive by in 10 years and see a mini log cabin and a fountain there.

February 17, 2005

Will It Ever Come To A Park Near You? The Saga of Gale Field House

Will It Ever come To A Park Near You? The Saga of Gale Field House

North of Howard Parks Advisory Council Gale Community Center
Minutes
2/15/2005

The February meeting of NOHPAC was called to order by President Eva McCann at 7:05 pm. Present were: Kim DeLong, Emily Gruszka, John Jaffe, Sr. Cecelia Fandel, Toni Duncan, Roland Nappier, and a new guest, Robert Corn.

The first item on the agenda was an update on Triangle Park. John informed the group regarding the status of the Hispanic Housing parking that the western end of the park was to become. HH pulled out in November but apparently now a new deal is going through. There is still question as to who owns the title of the land and John suggested that we work with the developer to make the parking lot aesthetically pleasing. At this point, Michael Land from Alderman Joe Moore’s office arrived to give us more information. There was a meeting held on 2-3 with the city department and Hispanic Housing about the lot. At this meeting it was decided not to vacate the alley since the parcel of land was sufficient for the parking. DuroArt had to sign a quit claim on the alley because of reversionary rights which they would not sign. New Homes for Chicago required the spaces for the parking, not the Department of Housing. Also, the cemetery wished to retain access in the alley for wall repair. They can do the required parking without using the alley. Alley parking however remains an issue as CTA employees and others illegally park there. Michael said it is up to the police to enforce the parking but we can continue to monitor this situation.

Although the ordinance passed that would transfer the parcel of land to HH for $1, it has not been executed. Planning and Development will transfer the land shortly. There might be a remaining zoning issue as they might need a special use permit to build the parking lot. Michael will inquire if NOHPAC can have input on the design. A further issue was raised regarding property taxes. 1711 W. Juneway, an entrance at the Vista North building, comes up as Triangle Park. There is apparently a problem with the assessor’s pin numbers. Michael agreed to look into this. Although he could not really speculate, Michael said that a very rough timeline estimate might be the completion of the lot by the end of the summer.

Next we discussed the Harold Washington Play Lot. Remediation on the site will take place when the weather breaks then the underground piping and utilities work will happen. Everything will then be ready for our Playground Build on June 4.

The third item on the agenda was the Gale Fieldhouse issue. On 2-1, representatives from the community met with Tricia Lombardo who is the Gale fieldhouse project manager for the Public Building Commission. Kim reported on the meeting to the group. Ms. Lombardo informed us that all of the zoning issues are now completed on the land. This happened in November. The remaining issue is the transfer of the money from the CPD to the PBC. Perkins & Will, the architects of the fieldhouse, and the contractor who did some initial work on the project still need to be paid by the CPD. There was a meeting held the week of February 7 to work out the payments to those entities. After that meeting and the payouts, the money could be transferred to the PBC. At that point, the PBC would send the project out for bids. Bids would be received during a 2-3 week process. When bidding closed, it would be approximately one week to select a contractor. The selection would need to go to the next CPD Board of Commissioners meeting (held on the second Wednesday of each month). After the selection was approved, the PBC would work with the contractor on the project details. Construction could then begin shortly thereafter. The best case scenario was the end of the spring for construction to begin.

New information arrived to Kim and Eva however on 2-15. Renee Chester from Friends of the Parks found out that the meeting for discussion about the payouts did occur. However, the CPD regularly conducts internal estimates for projects before they are put out to bid. The estimate for the Gale Fieldhouse is $1.5 million over budget. They have thus sent the project back to Perkins & Will for some adjustments to put the project in line with the budget. We do not know what those adjustments are nor were we informed by either the CPD or PBC that this was taking place.

Debate ensued about what to do with this information. Our demand is clear: we want the building that was promised to us and that was approved by the community to be built this spring. We ultimately decided through a motion made by John and seconded by Roland that we will meet with the Alderman as soon as possible to discuss the issue. We will then move forward with possibly meeting with Tim Mitchell or the Mayor. Michael agreed to set up the meeting with Joe.

Next we discussed the HW Playground Build. Cecelia will put together all of the stuff that the committee had previously discussed last fall and send it out through email for review. We discussed co-sponsoring the build with the Alderman and bringing in more community organizations.

The next item on the agenda was a membership drive. We discussed the following ideas: set up a table at Dominick’s to recruit, hold an informational community meeting regarding the HW Playground Build and also use it to recruit for NOHPAC, drop literature regarding NOHPAC through the neighborhood, flyers to DevCorp North and ask them to put NOHPAC on their website, and each member bring someone to the next meeting. Cecelia moved that we hold the info meeting and proceed with these other ideas which John seconded. John also discussed the possibility of holding a fundraiser at the Heartland CafĂ© in the future.

Lastly, we discussed some grant opportunities. Friends of the Parks has a seed grant for parks councils due 2-22. We discussed possible uses of these funds including concerts in the parks. John informed us that there is a group of musicians in the union that are paid out of a fund to provide free public concerts. He is going to look into securing 3 concerts for Gale Park this summer. Eva informed us that the Stern Foundation has offered us the opportunity for $5-10K for a public art project in one of our parks. We discussed several possibilities including murals, mosaics, and a climbing sculpture. Ultimately, we decided that a mural at the Harold Washington Play Lot would be our best option. We only need to find a muralist or artist willing to take this on. We also discussed the possibility of incorporating some of the funds for summer youth jobs to create the art. Cecelia made a motion that Kim seconded to do research into public art and find out possible good fits for our needs. Eva agreed to do this research.

John moved to adjourn the meeting and Emily seconded it. We adjourned at 8:32 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Emily Gruszka
Secretary

February 16, 2005

The Wasteland (continued)

Wasteland 010

This storefront has been empty for at least a year now.
Pyramid was touted and bannered, broadcast and applauded as the big event of 2004. Now it stands with brown papered windows reflecting our images. What the above site didn’t follow-up with was the ‘grand finale’.

Within a few weeks of the grand opening, the store clerk was robbed at gunpoint and tied up. The shopkeeper bravely stuck it out, got a guard dog, and tried to transition from ‘hip hop’ clothes to a general merchandise store. Here in Ward 49, we lovingly know them as an over-abundance of Dollar Stores.

For 2004, Pyramid Fashions and the Farmers Market were about all we were offered from the ‘chamber’ to get the Howard Street economy rolling. And when the Farmers Market fizzled, it was the community’s fault. At least we weren’t armed with lethal weapons.

On the up side, one positive happening on Howard Street was the opening of Jamaica Jerk.

Was SSA#19 tax money invested in concrete park bench planters and expensive black metal garbage cans? That was not income for the Howard Street economy but debit for property owners. Grant money was received for a ‘study’ that became so deviated from its purpose, I won't even attempt to explain the true intent.

It seems that rather than aggressively courting new business for Howard, the 'chamber' would prefer the street to stay just the way it is. Overkill on the status quo. Don't ask questions, don't make waves.

So what's cooking?

But courting TIFS and SSA's at home and elsewhere is physically and mentally draining. They're probably too exhausted to write more than a request to another shoe store or dollar store. Oh what a web we weave........

And to read Sandy Goldman’s stories of Howard Street to imagine what it was like, how it is today, and listen to the bla bla bla (vision) of how it will be tomorrow……. Up in this neck of the woods, tomorrow can last for years.

February 14, 2005

Back to the Wasteland

Sandy’s Foods is your typical ‘mom and pop’ corner store. Sandy’s is convenient for a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, or a liter of cola. It’s also loiterers heaven and some neighbors’ largest complaint.

He’s the only store owner on the north side of a very long strip on Howard. His only neighbor in the Broadmoor building was Lesdale Recording Studio and they left over a year ago. So somewhere beyond the vast expanse of Gale Park exists another store owner, but not close enough to help with a neighborhood watch. The Thrift Shop is on the other corner of Bosworth. Across Howard are a couple of the remaining open stores - - the Caribbean Bakery and the Tire Shop.

Wasteland 018

A few months ago, Mike, the owner of Sandy’s, met with Kevin Cosgrove of Ald. Moore’s office and Hank Jakobs, our district CAPS officer. They discussed ways to improve the appearance of his storefront with him. It was an effort to open up the windows so passersby could look in and see a clean store with stocked shelves. It was an effort to not only appease complaining neighbors, but a little good business advice as well. It was everyone’s hope that undesirables would stop loitering in front of his place of business (or inside for that matter).

So Mike removed the collage of signs and posters from the windows, replacing them with newer and more ‘strategically’ placed signs. Also in the deal, Mike was not to sell blunts or rolling papers for a month. With or without blunts or papers, the undesirables still gathered at the corner of Bosworth/Howard. In August when the streetscapers placed the expensive planters with ‘donated’ flowers from the neighbors, it became a heavy duty hang-out. Why not? They had the nice concrete park bench, flowers to sit on and the Broadmoor to run in and out of, and the stoop hang out to the south.

We’ve seen Mike telling the kids to stop shooting craps, hanging out, dropping their bicycles in the middle of the sidewalk. He even put out his own 5 gallon plastic trash can since the streetscapers removed the taxpayers trash can. The theory is that fewer trash cans will mean cleaner streets. Sigh!

The undesirables have become very nasty toward Mike. One character got angry when asked to move on, hit Mike and threw a rock through a window. At 4am, Friday 2/11/05, someone threw another rock through a side window. (Second top window from left)

Wasteland 001

It appears to be a no win situation. If the neighbors aren't complaining the undesirables are trashing the store for trying to improve its image. Did Mike wait too long to get tough? Would it help to have a regular beat cop walking around?

February 13, 2005

Not Even Boarded Up

This property is at 7717 North Marshfield. The building permit is on a second floor window in the back of the building. Aren't building permits supposed to be posted in the front window(s) of buildings? Neighbors state that the permit has been posted on the second floor rear for about 4-5 years.

What's the average duration of a building permit?

The property is not boarded up as required by law on the first floor. And the rear gate has enough space between garage wall and gate post to allow entry including a low chain link fence giving full access if one is a jumper.


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The people who enter late at night are probably not contractors. Allegedly, the building is without electricity and water. Is the property owner a local or another 'out of the area' North of Howard contributor to our problems?

Tribune

7717Marshfield 001

Although empty buildings are supposed to be somewhat secure from trespassers, neighbors observe squatters entering and exiting frequently. Do you think that these empty properties could be a contributing factor to the "perception" of the reality of certain undesirable behaviors North of Howard?

To really be progressive and really prove the sincerity behind all references to preserve low income housing, we need ExtremeMakover up here!

Will the community get the human interest stories and contact
Aid to make real change happen?

February 11, 2005

Lost and Found At The Park

Here's a familiar scene. A car rolls up, a discussion ensues between the driver and a person who just happens to be on the corner. In no time, they're best friends, the guy walks across the street to the car, looks around, and there's an exchange.

lostandfound

Apparently the driver wasn't asking for directions to Sheridan Road or Iowa for that matter. It wasn't a road map that was passed into his hand.

It's just business as usual at Howard and Marshfield within 1000 feet of Gale School. They're out there 24/7 to service local and suburban needs. Or you can cruise to one of the other corners or many vacant storefronts for contacts. If you're afraid to hit the strip, there are even bicycle deliveries.

This is your neighborhood, but who's in control?

February 10, 2005

Boarded Up - Part II

Cornerstone-2

This vacant property was formerly a People's Housing building, located at Ashland and Juneway. When People's Housing went belly up in 1996-97, a developer by the name of Holstein got it as a receivership.

For about 2 years Holstein ran the building into a hole, never fixed it up and it became infested with gang bangers and drug dealers.

Holstein took on more than he could handle with the People's Housing buildings he had taken over and was run out of the neighborhood by Karen Hoover and the Corporation Council in court where Jay Johnson got his hands on it.

When Jay Johnson acquired the building, it became worse than before, which isn’t saying much. No one thought it could get any worse…but it did. The building already had government money invested in it from People's Housing ownership. This funding was passed on to Holstein and then to Johnson. When Johnson bought this property, he got even more government money.

The building continued to sink toward the gutters.

Tenants weren’t screened and when warnings from onsite were relayed to Johnson about certain prospective tenants, Johnson ignored them. He didn’t live here, so why listen? Ultimately, the onsite building manager became the ‘fall guy’ for Johnson’s irresponsible ownership.

The building has been completely empty for almost a year now. At first, only one tier of the building was vacated and Johnson started doing some work. Intermittent work. Work started then stopped several times over a two year course.

People broke in, it was vandalized and squatters moved in. There were a couple of ‘squatter induced’ fires. It was boarded up again, but not securely. This cycle was repeated several times until chains were finally put on the doors.

However, these chains are not visible now. Are chains legal anyway? And, are the board-up permits up to date?

Cornerstone-1

Just for the record, Cornerstone was an entity unto itself until Jay Johnson merged with Urban Investment. Urban is the company that originally started and owned our wonderful Gateway Mall.

Johnson and Urban had a falling out and Cornerstone became an entity unto itself again and Urban Investment went on their tumble down to bankruptcy. Urban's assets were divided amongst its investors, one of whom is John Terzakis who owns the Lerner building and the Wisdom Bridge Building.

wisdombridge 001

Rudy Mulder of Urban Investments was also connected with Paul Rodan of Hispanic Housing, who worked on the affordable condos on Juneway and Paulina and the Gateway Seniors Building.

wisdombridge 002

It isn’t known if the building on Ashland and Juneway is slated for condos but the billboard doesn't say anything about beautiful rental apartments or condo conversions so Jay Johnson’s intentions for this building are still unknown.

Rudy Mulder/Urban Investments was originally supposed to give the neighborhood half a million in bricks and mortar for the field house that he reneged on which also helped delay the building and design of the field house.

There are those who say it was supposed to be a full million in cash and then it was diluted half a million. Either way we never saw the money.

That is when the Seabury Foundation stepped in to supplement the loss of those extra dollars because the Park District said they would not build it if they had to invest any more money into the project.

The Park District didn't want to build the field house in the first place and, if they were forced to build, it was going to be as an annex to the annex of the school. In other words, we would have had to use the school gym.

Contributed by Eva

February 8, 2005

And There Is Light

lightsaglow

Thanks to the concerned neighbors who repeatedly called, the dispatchers, and to the person who turned the lights back on.

February 7, 2005

Let There Be Light

As of 6:14PM tonight, forty-four calls have been made to 311 by area residents reporting these dead street lights. This is our perception of the new street lights. They're dysfunctional, like several spots in the area. Now this problem was marked 'urgent' according to the dispatcher Saturday night. Several neighbors told me yesterday they too had called 311. So what's the deal?

nightlife 001

The dealers and runners on bikes are having a field day! They're laughing and dealing on every corner. Blue cell phone lights and bike reflectors can be seen everywhere. They've been given the dealers gift of the winter....warm weather and no street lights. They don't mind the drizzle tonight.

The Broadmoor has contributed by turning off the bright archway lights too. They're conserving funds... federal funds...so in the long run we're unwilling contributors to this blackout.

If anyone has a complaint to offer the powers that be (pun intended)send it to:

ss00400@cityofchicago.org

And let someone declare 'let there be light' again.

February 5, 2005

Burned Out And Boarded Up - Part I

burntout IMC 001 burntout IMC 002

From the street, 7611 N. Bosworth looks like just another apartment building. There are blinds in the windows, names on the buzzers, junk mail and flyers on the doors. It's a fairly deceptive facade. But this property has been vacant for around 6 years from a fire.

The owner did the bare bone, legally required, minimum, board-up job on the first floor windows. According to long time area residents, on more than one occasion, this building has been home to squatters and drug dealers. Is that any surprise?

As of last year, the city had no record of this building being vacant, but that was rectified somehow after the initial inquiry. Wonder how that could have happened?

Who owns this eyesore? Yes, our good neighbor across the street!
Broadmoor

When one notices the number of empty storefronts on Howard and begins to think....well, how many other vacant buildings are there?

How many vacant buildings are home to undesirables? Is this where the corner people do their sly deals when it's larger than a couple of peanuts in a plastic wrapper?

Is this why North of Howard is considered an 'animal' in that not much can be done here? Right on, damned straight, however one chooses to verbalize. These eyesores are allowed to just sit as tax write-offs with absolutely no consideration of the ramifications to a whole neighborhood. Sure, the area has changed....sure, change takes time...but just how long? As long as it takes to pour cold molasses.

Until vacant buildings and owners are dealt with properly, this place will remain the same. This owner lives somewhere in Chicago, but I doubt if its anywhere near here! So it's no skin off this owners hide if muggers and druggers are hanging out here. Only the innocent bystanders stand to be hurt.

I'm just grateful that my south window doesn't look at these busted, burned out windows.

February 4, 2005

New Street Lights - Powered Out

I just came around the corner at Bosworth/Howard and our nice, new street lights (and the nice old street lights) are OUT. Not a good happening on a warm Friday night. The undesirables will take advantage of a bad situation.

311 Ms. West report #05-00188794

If more people report it, perhaps it will expedite the repair.

I'd planned to get a picture of the new lighting and put some good news out. Hopefully later tonight, or tomorrow.