October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

Whether you are having private parties or walking around NOH tonight with the group meeting at Gale Park on Howard, have a safe night. While we don masks and regress to childhood for a few hours, in olden days Halloween had a much different meaning. In certain areas, people donned masks so that death could not find them. The holiday has evolved through the years.

Each culture has a variance on the theme in Halloween around the world
And here's another interesting reference on The origin of Halloween from The History Channel

October 30, 2005

Let's Try It Again

The matter of ‘positive posts’ to balance the blogs was mentioned at this afternoon’s panel discussion. Apparently no one noticed this very special post named A Mentors Magic.

Or if it was noticed, no one felt compelled to comment. I’m posting it again with an update on Maurice and the Gale football team. Last Sunday it was drizzly and cold but Maurice was out checking the field before the game. I stopped to chat and learned he was getting costs to provide uniforms and padding for the kids. He said a couple of the parents had mentioned starting a fund, but he knows they can’t afford much, so he planned to make the initial purchase himself. Now, I doubt this venture will be inexpensive, do you? So I said I’d check around and see about funding. Joe Moore committed to personally contribute once Maurice had an estimate. I will too, will any of you?

Maurice 002

If one young man can give his time, energy and love to the kids in his neighborhood, then here’s your ‘positive story’ and here’s your chance to give back too. If you can’t afford a donation to the uniform fund, you might stop and cheer for the team. You never know who may be a future pro football star thanks to Maurice.

October 29, 2005

Halloween Walk

Halloween Walk

Join the fun and walk with us on Halloween through the neighborhood.

Come in costume, or not.

Bring your children

Bring your pets

Dress them up too.

Meet at the entrance of Gale Park on Ashland and Howard

Monday October 31, 7:00 p.m.

Gather at the new Lake Side Cafe, 1418 W. Howard
after the walk for
Hot Apple Cider and Cookies

(Come on, when was the last time you dressed up in costume just for the
fun of it?)
Be silly, be creative, make your own costume, bring your camera, take
pictures of others.

This is an adult walk. Why should kids have all the fun? Children are
welcome if accompanied by a responsible parent/guardian

Children must have a parent/guardian with them to join the walk

For more information call Eva, 773-495-8725

October 28, 2005

The Junk Drawer of Rogers Park

North of Howard
The Junk Drawer of Rogers Park


You have one. I have one, always have. So does Ald. Moore. Only his is much larger in scale than any one of ours. His is a whole neighborhood. Unlike mine with that beautiful, pesky Italian designed calculator that just won’t work, my indecision about what to do, harms no one. His decisions about what is taken out, left in, renewed or ignored in his Junk Drawer, affects whole families and ultimately entire communities for years.

It’s Your Little Secret
When you have people over to your house, you don’t rush to show them your Junk Drawer, do you? Of course not! You wouldn’t want anyone to think that Junk Drawer is a reflection of you in any way. It’s your little secret.
“Look at our new kitchen, isn’t it gorgeous”.
And so the Junk Drawer is treated differently also, it’s status in the pecking order of priorities, barely registers. When it is time to clean, renovate or paint, the Junk Drawer remains untouched.
There is something reassuring about your dark, little secret. Anyhow, it’s just stuff and you really don’t want to think about it. It’s your special place to be irresponsible. That’s OK…unless your Junk Drawer happens to include families and businesses as Ald. Moore’s does.

One Ward
“Furthermore, I have a policy that requires any proposed residential development in my ward of ten units or more to set aside at least ten percent of the units for the Chicago’s CPAN affordable housing program, which gives moderate income incentive and opportunity to purchase a home at a much more affordable price. CPAN is one program we use to help maintain our neighborhood’s economic diversity.” This paragraph was lifted verbatim from the press release Ald. Moore submitted to his web site regarding the Adelphi Theatre Development. This has not been taken out of context.

Two Sets of Rules
I am pleased that the Ald. recognizes the need for economic diversity, but does his philosophy end North of Howard Street? We, in the Junk Drawer, would welcome that philosophy also apply to our neighborhood. Why doesn’t it? Why are we being treated as no priority citizens, when the rest of Rogers Park is benefiting from this equitable social contract? The Junk Drawer now boasts a poverty percentage that is so high above the norm, NOH and Howard Street might never recover. Why is there a set of rules for Rogers Park and then another set for NOH? We are not maintaining economic diversity in this area as the Ald. is espousing. We are sliding precipitously into the “you don’t want to live there “ status. The Paulina Street zoning proposal would just be nails in a waiting coffin.

Lost Opportunities
About three years ago, the contract on Northpoint’s 12 buildings were up for renewal. This was about the same time that HUD, state and city officials started questioning the failed social experiment now known as projects. It was understood, finally that if you only experience poverty, all you will know is poverty. “Poverty begets poverty” became the new catch phrase. I believed it because I lived it.
Why did those renewals for complete section 8 housing fly through the renewal process at a time when that type of housing was being questioned by every level of government? How different might our community be, if the CPAN programs and other programs that sponsored ownership over rentals, been allowed to shape our community in a more economically diverse way? It might have been a turning point but we will never know. Northpoints’ multi-story, multi-unit buildings would have been perfect for the mixed use, economic development plan the Ald. talks about. And they were already built. There is a real estate development firm on the east coast that specializes in this type of mixed use, diverse income housing. It’s been successful elsewhere. A lost opportunity, once again. Apparently this option was brought to the alderman’s attention years ago.

Howard Street
Once a destination, it has now become a Junk Drawer. In a housing expansion that shaped almost all our neighboring communities, ours is sliding into an abyss. If you got ‘beamed up by Scottie’ and were transported here, you would think you’d landed in the 1930’s deep depression. How hard is it to pay attention to our history and realize there is so much potential? How hard is it to look at most of the buildings that are thankfully still standing, and come up with a plan to revitalize that street?
Wasteland 012 Wasteland 013

Why should we patronize Evanston with all their new, fancy eateries? And for entertainment, no one should be forced to go to Lincoln Park or downtown, because there is no closer, safer alternative.
Howard Street is a colossal waste of potential and so is the North of Howard neighborhood.
As an artist, who can envision how it could be, it is so incredibly frustrating that I can’t just make it happen.
If after 14 years of work I presented you with the Junk Drawer that Howard Street and NOH is now, I could not look you in the eye.

Wasteland 006

by Gary Fuschi

October 27, 2005

'Say it ain't so Joe'

Check out Sandy’s Latest

Could It Be True?

My cell phone started ringing just before the Belmont stop tonight. It was a hot tip from a reliable source after a long day in court. My friend, William Higginson, allegedly no longer holds his position of CEO at IMC Properties. We wonder if he’s retained his spot at Chicago Equity Fund and The Heartland Institute?
resigned or fired?

According to the tip, allegedly a few of his mis-manager minions ‘left’ also. Speculation abounds, and is leaning toward the corporate investors becoming aware of what some of us ‘bloggers’ and NOH residents consider total mis-management of taxpayer funding and the larger issue of mis-treatment of human beings. Yep, it’s known as slumlording.

More to come next week.

Rogers Park Conservancy

Rogers Park Conservancy
Thank You

I was really proud of the way our community represented themselves at the Loyola meeting Thursday night. The whole process was fascinating to witness and I felt honored to be there. I met people I had only heard about and sat behind a distinguished looking man, who, after he spoke, I realized, was Don Gordon. He spoke and I listened.
I had no choice. His knowledge, his physical presence and the depth of his passion demanded my attention. He spoke the truth.
It was the irrefutable truth of responsibility.
He was reminding us and especially the marina consultants that they cannot irresponsibly tinker with our history.
We do not consider our shoreline an exploitable commodity.
If that plan, or anything resembling that plan, is the best these “designers” can envision, then just leave our lakefront alone, leave us alone and leave the taxpayers alone.
Our Lakefront is not for sale.
True visionaries created our great city. We should not allow expedient, petty, profiteers to ruin that heritage. Other wards along the lakefront might feel differently. We can really only control what happens here and it’s a struggle just to do that. I realize that this study was conducted at six or seven other sites along the lake. But after just voting down the lakefront development plan last year, couldn’t Someone have suggested that the cost for the 49th ward portion of the plan, would be a waste of money? Someone could have and should have tried, just tried to break out that cost from the study and apply the money towards the promised and now under funded Gale Street project as a credit. It would have been worth the effort and it would have shown an understanding of what the community wants and needs.
Even if the effort was unsuccessful, it would have been appreciated.
Presenting that plan, showed such a complete lack of understanding and a total disregard for what this community has been fighting against. No one involved with the 49th ward portion of that study did their homework. Maybe they didn’t feel they needed to, because this really was just a trial balloon. This was just used as a gauge to see how we would react. No committed “designer” would capitulate after 4 or 5 dissenting votes from a 400 person audience. The truth is, they had nothing invested in the plan. They knew it was dead from the moment someone put pen to paper. They had no belief in what they were presenting and it showed.
There will be more plans. I think we need to recognize that reality and be prepared.
Much time and effort has been spent rallying against what Rogers Park doesn’t want done with the lakefront.

May I suggest that it might be time to marshal all that energy and creativity and begin to understand what is acceptable? Saying no to that plan was necessary but it is also just as important to offer viable alternatives. Otherwise, we will all be back again, rallying against another plan we don’t want.

by Gary Fuschi

October 26, 2005

Crack Down On Slum Owners-Proposal

I had the pleasure of hearing Alderman Bernie Stone of the 50th Ward speak last night at the Builders Group Meeting. He doubted his building committee would the attention it merited from the media and expected the headlines to reflect foie gras. In fact, he doubted it would be found in today's papers. Due to my non-interest in the time and energy being spent on duck livers, I almost missed it. But, at least an attempt was made tag the more important quality of life issue for humans and neighborhoods at the end of the article. Thanks Mr. Washburn, may we please have some plain old meat and potatoes with your next column? We'd like to read more on this proposal. We'd like to read what our alderman will spearhead for the North of Howard area.

We're waiting to hear fresh stories of 'how it is' not 'how it was'.
We're waiting to see what the plan is to balance North of Howard. In fact, some have been waiting for years. We're waiting for Howard Street rejuvination, waiting for the Field House, we're waiting for the next census. Seems all we do up here is wait. Seems we're not really part of the 49th Ward, did we secede from the City?

Foie gras on city's chopping block
Panel hears how it's made, moves to ban it

By Gary Washburn
Tribune staff reporter
Published October 26, 2005


After hearing a Hollywood actress compare the production of a delicacy made from the livers of geese and ducks to abuses at a notorious Iraqi prison, a City Council committee on Tuesday advanced a measure that would make Chicago a foie gras-free zone.

Only three farms in the U.S. produce foie gras, none of them in Illinois. And Ald. Joe Moore (49th), sponsor of the measure to ban its sale, acknowledged that "no more than a dozen or so" restaurants here probably have it on their menus.

But "laws are reflections of our values and morals," he asserted.

Moore hailed preliminary approval of the prohibition by the council's Health Committee, saying it will result in "fewer ducks and geese being tortured to create this product." And he said a ban here would "send a clear message" to other cities and states that may decide to consider similar measures.

The committee heard a New York veterinarian and activist describe how feeding pipes are "jammed down the esophaguses" of terrified birds that are force-fed three times a day to make their livers 10 times normal size to produce foie gras.

And committee members viewed a graphic video of bloodied birds that had undergone the process.

"If I sound a little out of breath, I am always overwhelmed listening to stories of abuse and torture," said actress and animal-rights advocate Loretta Swit, who testified in support of the ban.

The former star of the "M*A*S*H" television series contended that there are ties between what happened at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, where inmates were abused by U.S. soldiers, and what happens to ducks and geese whose livers are harvested for foie gras.

"Violence begets violence," she said. "Brutality begets brutality."

But Didier Durand, chef and owner at Cyrano's Bistrot, 546 N. Wells St., insisted that "there is no torture" in the production of the delicacy. And he told the skeptical aldermen that it is healthy to eat. Durand attributed low cholesterol levels and a low incidence of heart attacks in his native region of France to consumption of foie gras, which he said he sells to about 30 customers a week.

Cyrano's charges $15 for three-ounce servings.

Carrie Nahabedian, owner of Naha, 500 N. Clark St., predicted that a Chicago ban simply would push foie gras lovers to suburban restaurants, and she said that a prohibition could send the council "down a slippery slope" leading to regulation of other food.

"It does set precedents, and it is important outside the city of Chicago," said Marcus Henley of Ferndale, N.Y.'s Hudson Valley Foie Gras & Duck Products.

Henley gave committee members packets with what he said was scientific evidence that birds are not abused in foie gras production, and he invited an inspection.

"If there is doubt remaining, visit the farm," he urged.

But the aldermen were unmoved, and the ban proposal now goes to the full council for a vote next week.

In other City Hall action, the council's Buildings Committee advanced an ordinance designed to crack down on owners of slum buildings despite fears by some aldermen that the measure goes too far.

In some cases, a city order could clear the way for the seizure of a dilapidated apartment building or home whose owner fails to correct
problems.

----------

gwashburn@tribune.com

October 25, 2005

Montrose Dunes Awarded INAI Designation

Illinois Audubon Fort Dearborn Chapter has been the sponsoring group for Montrose Point, Beach, and the Jarvis Birding Aria for the last 10 years. Susan and I have been the project managers for the environmental groups working with the park district, all of the groups have help develop the aria and raise public interest in the point. The Groups have invested a lot of money into the Green Deed Program as well as direct funding for the plantings that have gone into the Point. It is nice to see the State of Illinois finally has the project as a major nature aria. It would be great if Rogers Park could generate the same interest to attract the environmental groups to help develop the lake front plan for Rogers Park.

Below is the announcement of Montrose Beach Dunes achieving Illinois Natural Areas Inventory designation.

******************************************************************************************
Dear Dune Volunteers and Friends,

It's been a hectic month or two, and I have some wonderful news to share. Montrose Beach Dunes (the "official" state name) was just designated an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) site by the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. The INAI is a state-recognized list of high-quality natural areas. Last August, biologists from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) visited the dunes and were very impressed with its unique flora and fauna; they also noted geological features such as the panne (wet depression in a dune/swale system) which is uncommon nowadays, especially in a big city! IDNR subsequently nominated the site for INAI status The lengthy application and supporting documentation was reviewed by the commission in Springfield and approved last Tuesday.

We are all very excited and honored by the assignment of INAI status, which opens the way for much greater protection and enhancement of Montrose Beach Dunes. THANK YOU ALL for your tremendous support, dedication, and hard work that have kept the dunes healthy and thriving. Last summer was one of our most challenging growing seasons, working without a Chicago Park District natural areas contractor, and you really stepped up to the plate. I am so proud of you, and I look forward to working with you in the future to make the dunes an even richer home for our native species.

By George Sullivan

October 24, 2005

Gentrification

GENTRIFICATION & ITS IMPLICATIONS PANEL DISCUSSION (10/26)
Have you watched gentrification happen in Chicago's neighborhoods? Are you happy to see more economic development in the city but are also concerned about low income people needing to leave their neighborhoods? Chicago Net Impact is hosting a panel on gentrification in Chicago's neighborhoods at the Kellogg School of Management
Downtown Chicago Campus - Wieboldt Hall -
340 East Superior on Wednesday, October 26 starting at 6pm.

Pre-registration is not required. This event is $5 for members and $10 for
non-members.

October 23, 2005

Save The Horses

To be fair to all creatures of Mother Earth, here's another protect the animal reality you may find compelling. A promise made should be kept don't you think?

Banner Day for Horses in Senate

Save the Horses
Slaughter Ban

Too Easy?

Plan 1
The two diminutive representatives from CPD stood in front of a standing room, only crowd of the Rogers Park faithful. They droned on about an exhaustive, conceptual study they had completed of six or seven sites along our beautiful lakefront that would be suitable for all “the increased boater demand “they expected .

They presented slides and bullet points that were not discernable to anyone in the audience. The plan was not inspiring and nor was their demeanor. The presentation went on too long and folks got restless and rude. It was somewhat understandable considering the pent up emotion inside that gymnasium. The CPD reps did their best to maintain order. When they relinquished the microphone, they stood there and took their much deserved punishment.

Rep. Osterman Speaks

His inspired, well thought out and eloquent essay, resonated with the audience. His presence commanded attention and he received it with repeated standing ovations.
Four more residents spoke of their opposition to the proposed plan and as soon as they were finished, the two CPD reps announced that the proposal was off the table.

Ald. Moore Speaks
He took the microphone and echoed what the two men had said. The plan that was being presented this night would no longer be considered, the crowed cheered at this apparent victory and some started leaving.

Too Easy

I hope I’m wrong, but I do not believe we are finished fighting this issue. I think there will be more plans to consider. Maybe one with only 300 boat slips, instead of 400.

By Gary Fuschi

October 21, 2005

Dead in the Water?

The crowd was adamantly opposed to a harbor of any shape or form. Representative Harry Osterman took time away from the recent birth of his second child to come speak for his constituents and against a marina for 400 boaters. The chastisement was loud and clear, with standing ovations. His speech was one of his finest according to many in the audience.

Give 'em Hell Harry
Osterman demanded that the Park District work with both the Rogers Park and Edgewater communities to begin a comprehensive community planning process.

This resulted in both Rob Rejman and Chris Gent agreeing to work with the Conservancy in their effort next February to sponsor a series of forums in the community. These forums will be the next phase of taking ideas that have been gathered from hundreds of citizens over the past 18 months and begin conceptualizing the Plan of Rogers Park - a vision for our parks and beaches. Getting this process going not only insures that future marinas don't get proposed up north but also that projects- such as Gale - get prioritized and that Rogers Park gets its share of Park District funding.

A representative speaker for Representative Jan Schakowski was barely audible above the din. He claimed that none of the $800,000 in funding was spent on these marina studies. OK, next? Jennifer Clark, the Loyola PR spokeswoman (who sits on the RPCC board) claimed that the University did not endorse this proposal.

Another person asked the cost of the studies. An answer was finally emitted that the cost amounted to $358,000 for the whole lakefront harbor series. Granted, the harbors would be revenue producing…at some point, but in the interim…the monies could be spent on more pressing issues for this area. For example, some of my die- hard North of Howard Gale Field House fans came to the meeting with shovels and earth breakers hoping to garner attention to the on-going excuses. Gale Field House is allegedly $1.8 million over budget after nearly 10 years of gaffes and misinformation.

Several in the audience chose not to wait for their turn to speak and persistently interrupted the ‘planned drama’. The interruptions distracted and disturbed the presenters. The proposal of a marina aka harbor disturbed the audience…a balance was attained at any cost.

Don Gordon of the Rogers Park Conservancy gave an eloquent reading from Daniel Burnham’s ‘plan’ to a standing ovation. Burnham should be required reading for any planner in the City of Chicago.

Don Gordon and Chris Ghent

What about the FIELD HOUSE?

There was little else for the ‘drama presenters’ to do at that point but to proclaim the harbor dead in the water. With that available funding, could they complete long ignored projects before jumping to the next profit maker for the higher economic classes who don’t live here?

Will they get the message and leave our beaches alone?

October 20, 2005

Leave It As It Is

"You see, Burnham said so much more than just "Make no small plans...". In fact, one of the first things he said in the Plan of Chicago is in Chapter one on the bottom of page two: "Indeed, the aim has been to anticipate the needs of the future as well as to provide for the necessities of the present: in short, to direct the development of the city towards an end that must seem ideal, but is practical. Therefore it is quite possible that when particular portions of the plan shall be taken up for execution, wider knowledge, longer experience, or a change in local conditions may suggest a better solution..." Burnham felt it important enough to make this statement at the very beginning of his discourse on urban planning. He had the foresight to see that it would take lifetimes to implement his concepts and that what seemed a good idea in 1909 might not hold up 100 years later. He was so right." from Don Gordon
Don Gordon and Chris Ghent

Don's speech tonight:
Statement Delivered by Donald Gordon, Executive Director RPC
To Rob Rejman, Director of Lakefront Development, Chicago Park District
Community Meeting, Loyola Park - Thursday, October 20th, 2005 at 6:30pm

Last year the Rogers Park Conservancy fought long and hard in partnership with our Evanston neighbors to stop construction of a marina off the shoreline of Calvary Cemetery. Today, we find ourselves fighting yet another marina, this time on the southern border of our community. We are invigorated by the fact that our grassroots efforts resulted in stopping one marina and we are emboldened with the knowledge gained from that battle to fight this current proposal for a marina just south of Loyola University. However, we are not simply about opposition but rather, more importantly, about finding better solutions. Thanks to our effort at Calvary and a receding waterline, a beautiful and tranquil beach is now forming at that site and a coalition has been formed to explore more creative, environmentally sound ideas for that location. We like to think that Mother Nature is thanking all of us for saving our lakefront from the eyesore of a marina, by beginning to restore the once historic Calvary Beach to it's grandeur of the 1920's. We like to think that Mother Nature is once again asking for our stewardship.

If you haven't had the occasion to see this tranquil and bucolic beach in the midst of an urban setting, please take an opportunity to do so. Walk down to the beach through a path on the north end of that shoreline just before you get to the fence and pier at South Boulevard Beach. Do it on a clear day at sunrise and immerse yourself in the beauty of the striking dawn colors and sparkling waters reflecting the sunshine like diamonds. Listen to the waves, the gulls and if you do it soon, the migrating geese that will fly overhead. Breathe in the air of the thousands of square miles of Lake Michigan wilderness that lays in front of you - blue and green reflections of a clear sky off its sandy bottom and the whitecaps of waves rolling in on windy days.

Now, imagine that shoreline extending not just the 1/2 mile to the Rogers Park border, but rather 3 miles to Osterman Beach at Hollywood Avenue in our neighboring community of Edgewater. Imagine a sandy shoreline easily accessible to thousands of residents in both of our communities, providing an unparalleled stretch of urban beaches found only in the most magnificent coastlines of the world. We have imagined such a lakefront, unimpeded by an extended Lake Shore Drive, landfills, islands, peninsulas and of course - marinas. We have imagined beaches as far as the eye can see, looking north from the pier at Osterman Beach. We have imagined what Daniel Burnham would say: "What a grand idea".

You see, Burnham said so much more than just "Make no small plans...". In fact, one of the first things he said in the Plan of Chicago is in Chapter one on the bottom of page two: "Indeed, the aim has been to anticipate the needs of the future as well as to provide for the necessities of the present: in short, to direct the development of the city towards an end that must seem ideal, but is practical. Therefore it is quite possible that when particular portions of the plan shall be taken up for execution, wider knowledge, longer experience, or a change in local conditions may suggest a better solution..." Burnham felt it important enough to make this statement at the very beginning of his discourse on urban planning. He had the foresight to see that it would take lifetimes to implement his concepts and that what seemed a good idea in 1909 might not hold up 100 years later. He was so right.

The citizens of Rogers Park have wider knowledge, our generation has had longer experience and the local conditions of our time dictate a better solution than the islands, landfills and harbors he once envisioned. We ask that you join with us in preserving this incredibly stunning shoreline and work with our communities to develop a plan that's not just devoid of roadways, landfills and artificial harbors, but more importantly is filled with imaginative ideas for enhancing and creating a stretch of urban beaches unparalleled in any coastal city of world.

We submit to the Chicago Park District our Policy Statement, voicing our opposition to the proposed Loyola Marina and proposing an alternative solution. We ask that you seriously consider our recommendation and that you engage the Chicago Park District in sponsoring a series of community planning sessions with the Rogers Park Conservancy next February, aimed toward developing a truly comprehensive plan - The Plan of Rogers Park- based on the visionary ideas captured in our Community Needs Assessment - a document summarizing an 18 month effort of community outreach to solicit citizen ideas for expanding and preserving our parks and beaches. You can access that sixty plus page document on our web site.

In closing I leave you with an excerpt from the "Grand Canyon" speech of the Great Conservationist, Theodore Roosevelt: "Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you."

Best of Howard Watchers: Gale Park Field House

Our blog-master is taking a long-overdue break, so your humble guest editor will dip into the oldies but goodies and bring back a blast from the past, as relevant now as it was then.

In honor of our esteemed guests from the Chicago Park District tonight (THURSDAY 6:30 PM Loyola Park) venturing to the far, far north side...

from Sunday, April 03, 2005

Spring Gymnastics at Gale Park

This is a common warm weather scene in Gale Park. These energetic youngsters drug the mattresses from the alley into the park creating their own outdoor gymnasium. In the past, we’ve seen as many as 4-6 mattresses in a long row in the park and the kids are quite skilled. But are they safe? No.

100_0275

This is how kids North of Howard do gymnastics in Gale Park without a Field House. Ingenious kids, with makeshift tumbling mats. They are forced to play like this because the government agencies couldn’t communicate, and the politicians had more important agenda items than the Field House for ten long years. What’s more important than keeping children safe?

... the North of Howard Parks Advisory Council will meet with all agencies involved in this ten year fiasco of broken promises. Would they want their children or grandchildren playing on some strangers discarded mattress? Would they want them playing unattended with dubious characters in the park?

These are common problems here. Children need activities and guidance. Since the politicians and the CHA and other agencies have designated NOH to be the Section 8 capital of Chicago, they have unknowingly created a very compelling argument for keeping their field house promise.

If the Mayor wants the community to patrol the streets, then he should be willing to provide a field house where kids like these can play safely. He should be willing and compassionate enough to go to any length to help a community help the children before they grow into dubious characters.

As it is, unattended children are in the park until quite late at night. The socio-economic problems here have yet to be properly addressed by the powers that be. Those powers have an obligation to address the well-being and guidance of these children before they are lost to gangs and drugs. The time is past due for those powers to think beyond their manipulations of taxpayers money and invest time in planning neighborhoods instead of delegating blame back at us. NOH cannot prosper with the sorely missing nurturing we have in place currently. We don’t need any more agencies to pick up the slack. We need the field house, a safe haven, for kids to learn how to interact properly in society. If they don’t learn it at home and/or at school, then the city needs to promote programs that will offer guidance not lip service.

and as a special bonus:

from Saturday, October 01, 2005

Community Dig Out

CHRONOLOGY FOR THE FIELD HOUSE PROJECT

Fall 1996 – community members started to plan for a community youth center.

April 1997 – Community members contact Alderman Moore, Loyola University, and various developers to float the idea of using money from other developments to fund the center.

May 1997 - Alderman Moore, in his State of the Ward address states the need for a youth center in the Ward.

June 1997 – Youth organizations met to dialogue, outlining concerns. Political leaders were targeted to help in the funding process. Possible sites, north of Howard Street, were explored.

July 1997 - Loyola architects drew up plans for a youth center after viewing possible sites.

Fall 1997 – Youth organizations met and promised to work collaboratively through all the processes and to get letters of support from their organizations. Alderman Moore met with all youth organizations and other community liaisons to introduce Rudy Mulder, would be developer of the Gateway Shopping Center who made a pledge of $500,000. that did not materialize.

Oct-Dec. 1997 - Loyola U. organization, CURL, undertakes a youth survey to get input.

Jan – April 1998 – CURL holds focus groups to gain additional input.

May 1998 – Highlights of North of Howard Youth recommendations were presented to the public.

Summer 1998 – Chicago Park District works with community focus groups on developing a plan for a park and field house.
- The Chicago Park District presented a plan for the 20,000 sq. ft. field house. It was formally accepted by Chicago Park District, Gale Local School Council and principal, and Alderman Joe Moore.

1998-2001 – Major funders step forward to underwrite the cost of the 16,000 Sq. Ft. one story field house: Alderman Joe Moore, State Rep. Julie Hamos, Sen. Carol Ronen, Seabury Foundation, Chicago Park District.

Oct. 2001 – Chicago Park District present a proposal to develop a “school-park partnership” utilizing part of Gale Academy and reducing the size of the “stand alone” field house to 9,000 sq. ft. The community demonstrated that this proposal would not work as school facilities are needed daily for recreation use.

Oct. 2002 – Chicago Park District states they would break ground “next spring” (2003), on the $4.6 million, 16,000 sq.ft.

Fall 2002 – Spring 2005. Three separate groundbreaking take place.

Fall 2004 – The Park District states that there are zoning issues that need to be resolved before putting the building out for bid.

Nov. 2004 – The Park District did an internal review which showed the project $1.5M over budget, and adjustments would need to be made to bring it in line with the budget.

March 2005 – NOHPAC and community members petition the Park Board to proceed with haste on the field house.

March 2005 - Community leaders meet with all the major CPD staff and the Mayors office to demand that CPD present the inal plans for review , and to present a final timeline –in writing - to the community Apr. 12, and to begin digging the hole in Sept. 2005 and complete in time for summer programming in 2006.
- CPD promised to take the shortfall ($1.5 M) out of CPD budget. They promise to: 1. complete the transfer of funds from CPD to Chicago Building Commission by summer. CBD promises to complete its bidding process by September and to begin digging in October 2005.

Apr. 2005 – CPD makes their presentation showing minor cosmetic adjustments to bring project into line with the budget.

Aug. 2005 - Chicago Park District and the Chicago Building Commission now informs NOHPAC that the project is now $1.8 million over budget, and the digging would start in NOVEMBER. NOHPAC states that CPD has the responsibility to make up the shortfall, and to keep their commitment to begin digging in October.

October 19, 2005

Our Quiet, Unspoiled Lakefront

Exclusive Club
Boaters plan ahead. They usually pack the night before in coolers and have no need whatsoever to stop at some local supermarket along the way, unless something’s been forgotten. There will be no positive economic impact on the surrounding community.
These private yacht clubs are totally self contained. Additionally, any type of massive build out, like the plan that is being considered at Loyola will take a very long time. Retail is already struggling in that area. Will hundreds of giant trucks rumbling through the streets day after day have a positive impact on the stores that are currently struggling? I seriously doubt it.

Powerboats
Powerboats are noisy, they pollute the air and water, use up a lot of energy and most of the accidents that you read about regarding boats, are caused by irresponsible and or intoxicated power boaters. When I lived downtown, you could hear the cigarette boats all night on the weekends. Noise is a huge consideration that is being glossed over in this plan.

Lost Opportunity
Loyola has the opportunity and the responsibility to really create something special and lasting for the community here and for the City of Chicago. There could be an open green space, some cafes and restaurants near the water for everyone, a dog park and a sailing school for kids and adults alike. There could be a band shell, a beautiful perennial garden to teach children, bird sanctuary and low key fountain. Special performances from local artists and events could be planned every month to attract people and of course other people will contribute other great ideas.

Create a destination where all types of people would come, learn, spend some time peacefully and support our local economy. Now, that would be a legacy to be proud of. It just isn’t fair to reward a very select group to reap the benefits of our precious natural resource. Especially, if they don’t live here.

Whose Town is This Anyway?
Stop disregarding our vote.

Outside Looking In
The plan calls for green space. The only patch of green space that Rogers Park residents will get in this plan, will be grass in front of the fence that will have a nice big sign that says ”Members Only”.

by Gary Fuschi

October 18, 2005

Save The Lakefront - Again

This is a very important meeting and has the potential to impact the shape
of our community for generations to come. Please come and voice your
opinion and let the Park District hear from you. The Conservancy fought long
and hard in partnership with our Evanston neighbors to stop construction of
a marina off the shoreline of Calvary Cemetery last year. Today, thanks to
that effort and a receding waterline, a beautiful and tranquil beach is now
forming at that site. We like to think that Mother Nature is thanking us
for saving the lakefront from the eyesore of a marina by beginning to
restore the once historic Calvary Beach. Our next efforts are in working to
help Mother Nature along to preserve this once grand beach that is forming again.

Donald Gordon
Executive Director, Rogers Park Conservancy
"What a man does for himself dies with him. What he does for his community
lives long after he's gone." - Theodore Roosevelt
*************************************************************************************
Community Meeting

Long-Range Planning for the Chicago Park District
Municipal Harbor System
Thursday, October 20th, 2005 at 6:30 p.m.

To be held at the Loyola Park Field House
1230 W. Greenleaf Ave, Chicago, IL

This meeting will focus on exploring creative ideas for the future of Chicago's harbor system on our world class lakefront. The project team will present a series of preliminary harbor ideas designed to further the project goal of enhancing the overall lakefront experience for all types of users. Please come and offer your feedback on these ideas, and share any additional ideas of your own!

Note: This meeting is not intended as a forum to address ongoing harbor management or
maintenance issues. A separate meeting to address these issues will be announced and convened by Westrec (the Chicago Park District’s harbor manager) at a date and location to be determined.

For more information, go to Chicago Park District
Direct link: Custom Harbors

Chicago Park District
Timothy J. Mitchell, General Superintendent & CEO

October 17, 2005

The End of The Flood

Tired of seeing the water flowing down the alley, I made a call on Wednesday afternoon.

On Friday, the alley was dry.

Dry Alley

The Broadmoor residents and I thank you, Mr. Higgenbottom.

October 16, 2005

Worse As It Ever Was

Then ( excerpt from essay posted on Sept. 27 as There is Here)

But something has changed. A group of tenants moved into the building next door to us a few months ago and our life has not been the same since. Gathering in the back stairway, just under our bedroom window and the porch we used to spend time on, drinking by these tenants starts in the morning and continues all through the night. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is and there is no concern for the volume level or the content of the conversations. There is talk about guns, obtaining guns, shooting people, getting shot, escaping from the police and from others who are shooting at them.
I don’t usually shy away from normal confrontation with reasonable people.
But my perception is that their values and their view of life are very different from mine. Their volatile unpredictability holds me hostage. Responding, as you could in a normal neighborly spat, is not an option. It’s not worth the risk.

Now

“You’re working with the f***ing police, aren’t you? We know you. We’ll get your f***ing ass”


The six officers who responded to my 1am 911 call on Friday, finally got this group that I referred to in the paragraph above, to turn down the music and return to their apartments. With the tenants now in their apartments, the officers and I talked for a few minutes in the alley. A woman calmly walked right through the entire group of us. She looked familiar to me and I didn’t realize, until a few moments later, where I had seen her before. She recognized me too, because as she walked between us, she smiled at me. I nodded.

We all finished talking and the officers recommended I return to my house via the front door, so that I would not be identified by the tenants next door. So I started walking south down the alley, towards Howard, when I realized this woman was now right behind me. “You’re working with the police aren’t you?” “What did you say?”, I responded as I turned around. “You’re working with the f***ing police, aren’t you? We know you. We’ll get your f***ing ass”.

It was then I realized who she was. I had seen her occasionally with the group next door. I ran back to the officers and told them what had just been said. “If you are willing to sign a complaint, we will arrest her for verbal assault.” The lead officer said. I responded that I was willing to do that. They left and about an hour later, another squad car pulled up, told me they had arrested her and asked me to sign papers.

“The neighborhood isn’t as dangerous as some residents contend” says Bud Ogle in this weeks’ excellent article in the Reader. This building is a recent purchase by Mr. Ogle. To be fair, he inherited these tenants. But we have been complaining about this behavior for 4 months now. My neighbors and I have spent endless nights being woken up, calling 911, being afraid, being eyeballed and sending dozens of, respectful but detailed emails to Mr. Ogle describing this behavior. We finally had a meeting brokered by Ald. Moore, Wednesday, October 12, and promises were made and guidelines were followed that were suggested by Mr Ogle. Someone showed up at 10pm Friday night after I called. He said sheepishly to the tenants ”please turn your music down”. Of course, as soon as he left the noise and rowdy behavior started up again. And then the police were called at 1:00am.

This was the first direct threat. Actually, these have been the first words exchanged between any of us.

Sadly, this is just how we live
.


by Gary Fuschi

October 15, 2005

Agitators and Perpetrators

It was far from a slow news day today. But it can wait. I've chosen to pull these comments from the posting on The Reader. It warrants our full attention. North of Howard has been the study since this blog's inception. Long time residents share their stories, as the disadvantaged tell their version of life here. The discomforting reality is they are on-going versions of 1985, 1995 into 2005. The tired mantra of 'how it used to be' angers me. To hear a group of agitators stand in a meeting demanding jobs will anger me until there is change.

The perpetrators of this high concentration of poverty apparently are more concerned with continuance of their paychecks than creating positive change. To hop into the spotlight is mere drama. Agitators are good at high drama but not so talented on planning a profitable economy. They seldom have solutions but offer myriad demands. Have they offered real economic solutions here? Have they offered a real job plan here? Have they offered a real solution to crime here?

The agitators want this pocket to remain low income, yet expect someone to provide jobs with no economic base. The agitators want the police to be their private patrols. The agitators are not seeking balance. They need to look to the managers/owners of the many problem buildings and work from there.

Felons have a difficult time finding a job right? Under-educated people have a difficult time finding a job right? And last, but not least, vacant storefronts and empty malls don't provide any jobs do they? Why pound the pavement job hunting if one is not qualified? So if we're all in the same place, if we're all under priveleged (sometimes by choice) how are we getting on to the next level? We're not, we're being contained and maintained by the perpetrators and agitators. We're learning how to make unrealistic demands, to be the human instruments of the agitators. These people make gangs look pretty organized in comparison.

The world progressed while NOH was held hostage to the vision without a plan. And it's not comforting to know it's still happening elsewhere in this country. We're spinning out of control and the creators of our problems are still clinging to what has never really worked.

It's time to open dialogue on what has not been working here and elsewhere.

Hurricane Katrina is focusing renewed attention on concentrated poverty.

A Study in Poverty
By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press Writer
Wed Oct 12, 2005

The Short Version

Many of the country's most disadvantaged minority households are trapped in pockets of concentrated urban poverty, preventing them from getting the educations and jobs that would enable them to rise above the poverty line. ...

Poor planning over decades has concentrated public housing at the core of cities around the nation, while new developments, jobs and schools mushroomed in the suburbs, beyond the reach of low-income households, dee
pening the divide between the haves and the have-nots, the study said.

Confronting Concentrated Poverty Across America
October 2005
by Alan Berube and Bruce Katz

The Short Version

# Areas of concentrated poverty are not confined to New Orleans. Despite improvements in the 1990s, nearly every major American city still contains a collection of extremely poor, racially segregated neighborhoods. In cities as diverse as Cleveland, New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, more than 30 percent of poor blacks live in areas of severe social and economic distress.

# These neighborhoods did not appear by accident. They emerged in part due to decades of policies that confined poor households, especially poor black ones, to these economically isolated areas. The federal government concentrated public housing in segregated inner-city neighborhoods, subsidized metropolitan sprawl, and failed to create affordable housing for low-income families and minorities in rapidly developing suburbs, cutting them off from decent housing, educational, and economic opportunities.

# A large body of research has demonstrated that concentrated poverty exacts multiple costs on individuals and society. These costs come in the form of: reduced private-sector investment and local job opportunities; increased prices for the poor; higher levels of crime; negative impacts on mental and physical health; low-quality neighborhood schools; and heavy burdens on local governments that induce out-migration of middle-class households. Together, these factors combine to limit the life chances and quality of life available to residents of high-poverty neighborhoods.

We're #2!

The Brookings Institute report counted extreme poverty neighborhoods, defined as census tracts in which at least 40 percent of the population lives in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold. Chicago ranked 2nd (with 110), behind only New York (with 248).

October 13, 2005

Alternative Realities

Check out “The Works - A Dumping Ground for the Poor” By Ben Joravsky

“There’s a lot more retail than we really need in the area”
says Alderman Moore in his unbelievable quote in the Reader article this week. Is the area he’s referring to include Evanston, Edgewater and Andersonville? He cannot possibly be talking about where I live, which happens to be NOH. Unless of course the retail he is referring to, happens to take place on all of our street corners, in which case he is right because that retail business is thriving.

Moore insists he doesn’t know anyone who’s planning to build an SRO.
“There is no secret plan to bring in any project”

He is right. If the zoning legislation is passed, the project is totally legal. There is no reason for it to be a secret.

Moore says the area is on the brink of gentrification - think Lakeview in the 70’s or Wicker Park in the 80’s
Who gave Ald. Moore the mandate to pursue gentrification for our community? No one I know wants that. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what we don’t want. No one I know wants to remove all the poor people from our community. All we are suggesting is that a more reasonable, planned ratio of all income levels be allowed to live and thrive here. That’s why most of us live in Rogers Park. We enjoy the diversity. This is a global community on all levels and I think we should try to maintain that unique quality, not eradicate with gentrification. This economic imbalance and it’s consequent rippling effect through every aspect of our community, is the direct result of a government
with no plan.


“Almost all the people murdered are murdered for specific reasons- they knew it was coming” says Bud Ogle.
This is one of the most irresponsible statements I have ever read in my entire life. I almost don’t want to say very much about it because it is so outrageous, so self serving and so putrid in it’s twisted logic, it makes my stomach queasy.

“The neighborhood isn’t nearly as dangerous as some residents contend”
says Ogle
Those are silky smooth lies coming out of the mouth of someone who does not live NOH
and experiencing life as it is here. Living next to one of Mr. Ogle’s buildings as I do now, has turned my life, my families’ life and my neighbors lives into a nightmare. I understand genuine concern for the poor but the effect on the entire community must be taken into consideration. It just isn’t fair otherwise.

by Gary Fuschi
************************************************************************************
No one I know is seeking gentrification. That's been the old stumping campaign argument since I moved here in 2002. When I first began reading arguments on forum49 the very mention of Lincoln Park drew hisses of venom and snide remarks. Many of us left places like Lincoln Park because they had become upscale, trendy, congested, absurdly overpriced and overrated. On the flipside, this area has been held hostage to a vision without a plan. With the high concentration of low income the buying and selling power is limited to general merchandise stores. The street scenarios of blight, poverty and crime do not invite and beckon businesses to rush forward to lose their shirts. The mostly empty Gateway Mall opens to Howard facing north to the Evanston side and to the West on Clark. Even the design shunned those living to the East...North of Howard was banished once again to the anguish of the residents.

We seek a balance in this neighborhood that would be composed of civic-minded people of various income levels and heritages. Those responsible for not properly screening tenants must be held accountable. Those who bought and created dumping grounds must be held accountable. For anyone to remark “The neighborhood isn’t nearly as dangerous as some residents contend” is an open invitation to criticism. Mr. Ogle should move back up here or give us his reasoning for moving out of here.
Toni



Census Map

Data Tables

Below Poverty Level

More Data

October 10, 2005

A Mentor's Magic

Maurice grew up in Cabrini Green. When he was 14, his parents divorced, and Maurice participated in the many rebellious actions of teenagers. He hung out on the streets; he became a part of that life.

Looking back now, Maurice says with sadness that many of the young men he knew are dead. He was saved from that fate with the help of a mentor. Knowing Maurice was the victim of a divorce, the mentor, fearing for him, took Maurice under his wing. He taught Maurice gymnastics, sports, the importance of education and to always look to the future. With his mothers support and love, and with the mentors guidance as a male role model, Maurice graduated from high school. He didn’t stop there. He went on to acquire his bachelors degree from Illinois State University and will soon receive his MBA.

I first noticed this amazing young man three Sundays ago. It was such a sight to see all these young boys gathered around him in Gale Park. It was magical. They listened to him, they obeyed him, they ran and laughed. Maurice was teaching them how to be children, play fairly, and to play football as the secondary lesson.

Maurice

This afternoon, I sat in the sun and watched and listened. Those young men respected Maurice, and followed his directions. Now and then, some of them would revert to the anger pattern and strike out. Maurice would grab them, hug them, and talk to them. Then the game would resume with smiles, and laughter. He was teaching them a positive way to direct anger, how to resolve conflict without physical outbursts.

The Lesson The Love

Maurice and I had a phone interview tonight. He told me he loves kids, has two children of his own. He is saddened to see many of the kids here headed in the direction he was in Cabrini. He realized years ago that he had to grow up and do something with his life. He didn’t want to be a ‘perpetual teenager forever hanging on the street corner on the road to nowhere”. He wants to give to these kids the gift his mentor gave him in the early 90’s. Maurice is trying to keep these youngsters from learning the hard way. He questioned ‘why must they have to learn that way’?

Sometimes the hardest lessons are the ones not forgotten, I suppose. But at some point we have to get to a different phase. Perhaps that’s why Maurice worked with kids on probation in his undergraduate work. Because he knew there was another phase and knew the path.

The Toss

Maurice started working with the kids in August and will continue until December. He’ll start up the outdoor athletic practice in April. To participate, Maurice is firm that education comes first, athletics are secondary. The grades have to be up to par. One idea Maurice wants to reinforce in these youngsters is that there’s so much more than just living day to day and not caring about the future. Life is a gift, love is a gift, and Maurice is sharing what his mentor shared with him not so long ago. He’s giving the gift he accepted and is passing it on.

Maurice and his team will be practicing tomorrow at 5pm in Gale Park.

Check out the magic.

October 8, 2005

Spinnin' Us and Them

Once again it’s time to clear the air and blow away the spinners and their paranoid myths. There are some entities who have labeled me, derided me, have gone to absurd lengths to discourage, discredit or extricate me. They have their reasons, as do I to expose their web. Since many don’t know my reasons or reasoning, they create their false illusions.

Here’s my reality.

North of Howard is a neighborhood. Beneath that label are the underlying forces, dastardly alliances, all interlocking for one goal … to make one small area a concentration of poverty. What they haven’t accomplished is the creation a peaceful concentration of poverty. So far they’ve created a miserable, unmanageable mess they can’t control.

While they speak with religious overtones of harmony, peace and all that 60’s stuff, gangs roam the streets dealing drugs, shooting one another. Women and men are abusing one another and their children. Many children learn violence subliminally before they learn to speak or walk. Within a few years, these children are killing one another. That’s a fact few can deny. But they’re the first to jump on the bandwagon and yell ‘peace’. They’re the first to pray and then point fingers. There isn’t really a feasible plan to accomplish peace North of Howard because there’s no balance here.

Some place the accountability on the alderman and the police. Others place the burden on absentee landlords, negligent property owners and managers of subsidized buildings. Let me toss in the original dastardly alliance that 30 years ago declared this pocket to be the future home of the ‘poorest of the poor and the outcasts of society’…and I hold them ALL accountable and responsible. The charities and nonprofits are right up there with Joe, Orr, CPD, HUD, IDHA, AIMCO, Higginson and Higgenbottom, and Jay Johnson. I apologize if I’ve omitted any other offenders. Filter it from top to bottom or bottom to top, they all come out guilty in my calculations.

I now own a home. Big deal. Other than a 1977 dying Ford Mustang, this home is my first investment. Why? Because I did. Before that I resided in a world that was similar to the spin here. It was a world of ‘us and them’. As a renter, I was labeled as one of ‘them’. I can identify with the good Northpoint and East Lake Management tenants. Some apartments I’ve had in Chicago left much to be desired. Even in decent apartments I dealt with power tripping landlords who collected the rent and neglected the repairs. I too dealt with fools who thought they could enter in my space when I wasn’t home without the 24 hour notice. I dealt with resident landlords who hooked up their gas and/or electricity to the tenants meters so they could slide. In one of my first apartments, the freezer door was a piece of plywood! Had it functioned properly, I planned to freeze all the mice I caught and give them to the slumlord. So spin that.

Low income or high income, everything revolves around power and money. The spin here is away from that truth, so let’s get grounded for a moment.

Let’s admit our psychodrama, our undeniable failings. Rather than scatter the subsidized housing throughout the ward, certain groups had little difficulty persuading the alderman to enable AIMCO to re-establish themselves here until 2013. Was there any real community input or vote? It was a done deal announcement. Now we all suffer through this poorly planned ideology. While some subsidized tenants are knowledgeable, vocal and demand their rights, the spinners are telling those less well-informed tenants that this blogger is trying to banish them all!

Get it straight, I ain’t. I want those who created this mess to clean it up and balance it. I want insurance that human rights (tenants and owners) are respected and enforced. Insisting on more low-income housing, insisting in maintaining the same status quo is far from balanced. It’s downright illogical, insane and immoral. For the alderman and the economic developers to even discuss the future of this area, they need to reign in those who are abusing the system for gain and hold them accountable to the community. By ignoring or avoiding that process, humans are used as the weapons in the spinning of the ‘us and them’ game.

The game is over.

Joe is accountable to ‘us and them’ in all matters that affect our lives. The social service agencies are accountable to provide services that will transition people to the next level, not merely maintain or ‘contain them’. The current maintenance programs are contributors to the profit of some and the debit of others. Philanthropists should thoroughly investigate the inner dynamics of these alliances before unknowingly investing to further divide this community into ‘us and them’. The federally funded buildings are accountable to their tenants, to the community, to the police, and ultimately to the alderman. The circle is complete.

Spin this:

It angers me to hear the way ‘us and them’ are spoken to. The power players speak to the air behind ‘us’ as though we are voiceless, mindless cardboard cut outs. It’s as though we’re props in their poorly written, badly directed play. These spinners are in for a very rude awakening when all is said and done.

The game is over.

"Your conscience awakes and you see your mistakes ...
And you wish someone would buy your confession ...
The days miss their mark and the night gets so dark ...
And some kind of "message" comes through to you ...
Some kind of "message" shoots through -- ...
And it says to you...
There is no Eden or Heavenly Gates ...
That you're gonna make it to one day ...
But all of the answers you seek can be found...
In the dreams that you dream... On the way ..."

Dan Fogelberg - Part Of The Plan

October 7, 2005

One More Hindrance

Thanks to everyone who signed my petition to install a police camera on Howard.

It would overlook the El, Gale Park and various points of interest. Looks like I need to carry another one to the 5th floor to Rich. Any special messages you would like me to leave?

Maybe we can get one before this Hindrance to Peace is pushed through?

This road block should spur all 50 aldermen to grab what they can. Joe should lead the pack with our petition. Make the demand for North of Howard.

Insert: The camera petition idea came from a brainstorming session at a CAPS meeting. As with so many ideas here and elsewhere in the city, nothing ever evolves from the session. I carried out the idea that's all. Now the burden to pay attention is on the powers that be.

October 6, 2005

Full Circle Bust

Hugh added this link about Andersonville in his comment on Gary’s Boom and Bust post. Now and then I strive to present an impartial, or detached viewpoint, so I am posting equally pertinent information for everyone. Often, if one hasn’t lived here for at least 15-20 years, a newcomers ideas are scoffed at. One may be taken to the side and told horror stories of how it used to be, how many shootings per week there were. Of course, that was a few decades after some of these grand stories. In fact, I still have crude people informing me that I live in a former drug house. If the intent is to shock me, I could care less. But it’s permissible for some to dwell on the past and pretend we’ve come a long way. So take your head out of the sand, brush your hair out of your eyes and let the links enlighten you.

We have an Economic Developer for Howard Street. Their work isn’t quite as progressive as the plan Andersonville developed, but, we’re NOH, we’re not supposed to expect too much. One page dated January 2005. Grant money paid for that.

We have the ‘destination’ of the Gateway Mall where the big stores reside. And we don’t need choices other than Dominick’s and Marshalls. We shouldn’t aspire to more than we have been provided. We must remain loyal to the mentality that prevails, that we are expected to inherit by our property deeds.

The Full Circle project is still going on, I guess… and they mapped this NOH area for us. Click the top census tract 010100. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how accurate it is. My home is either multi-family or a hotel/motel. Ironic isn’t it that a former DevCorp worker now is employed by Metropolitan Planning Council?

If you invested a few thousand for a home here, pay taxes here, why should you expect more than 1 page and a map? When asked about Howard and Morse, MPC deferred to the economic developer, DevCorp, for those areas. So, let’s focus on Paulina instead and contribute to the mentality that prevails. We heard the far-fetched fantasies of restaurants that would serve liquor, nice little shops, and no tattoo parlors or garages if we upzone Paulina. MPC had a challenge NOH, and all they could manage was to ‘focus’ on Paulina and downzone a few homes on Jonquil from RT4. It was made quite clear by MPC their expertise and work was in zoning, not our socio-economic problems.

The act played right into what they thought we wanted to hear. What MPC did not mention, what we did not hear were all the other ‘permitted by right’ buildings that could be expanded on, or built. Not one word on the whole sell-out on democracy or fair market. Well, I thought I was making a purchase in Chicago IL USA, home of the free, not some community from a sci-fi novel.

Well, fellow-property owners, we’re in la la land and someone is praying for us via their own wants and desires, not ours. Twisted.

October 4, 2005

Boom and Bust

“Let The Market Decide” says Ald. Moore.
Well, the market is deciding. Everyday a storefront stays empty, that is the market deciding. Every car that makes a right turn from Howard onto Church towards Evanston, that is the market deciding. Every time we fill our wallets with whatever discretionary income we have left after paying the bills, and decide to head down to Andersonville for the day, that is the market deciding. Ald. Moore is tossing out scary sounding economic concepts, in the hope that our eyes start to glaze over, like they usually do when anyone starts talking about economics. Well, mine don’t.

It’s Easier to Understand Than You Think, It’s Just People
So take a deep breath, pour a cup of whatever relaxes you, sit down, take a sip and get comfy. You have some reading to do. If you are upset after you finish reading, it’s OK. You should be, because this free market stuff is at the very heart of what is wrong here. Just remember to channel your anger in the right direction. Take another sip.If you still have your red state or blue state hat on, please remove it. Just try and be a person. OK………..ready?

Let’s Go Shopping
You need groceries for the week, so you pile in the car and drive to Evanston. Why Evanston? There are more choices. You have People’s, Whole Foods and Jewel and if you need treats for Fido, you zip over to PetSmart on the way home. Why Evanston? The service is better. When Dominick’s first opened at Gateway, the store was overstaffed and you never had to wait on line too long. Now, it doesn’t matter what time of day you shop there, you have to wait. Why Evanston? It feels safer in Evanston. It is safer in Evanston. Period. Why Evanston? It feels more like a neighborhood. That’s because it is.

It’s Just People
More choices, better service, safety and a neighborhood feel
. As a family or an individual, you weigh all the options and all the information at your disposal and you decide. Evanston. You have just participated in the free market. Not so scary, huh? The decisions you make, after considering all the options, is the very essence of this theory. It’s a fancy term for decisions you and I make every day. The Risk/Reward Ratio. We all make decisions like this everyday. Homeowners, businesspeople, entrepreneurs,investors and shoppers. OK, take another sip, you deserve it.

Ald. Moore is Right and Why It’s Wrong
The free market is a theory. It is not obedient to any political party. It is not a red hat, right wing conspiracy. It is not something blue hats should automatically despise. It is simply an indicator of how people feel based on what they do with their money. The free market allows all of us the freedom to decide, after determining all the risks involved, where we feel comfortable spending our money. And it never lies. So when Ald. Moore tells us “Let The Market Decide”, he is right. The market is deciding. The market is us. We are deciding to spend our money in Evanston, Uptown, Andersonville, any where but in our own community. How wrong is that? Are you mad yet?

Government Has a Role To Play
The success of neighborhoods like Andersonville, Uptown and Evanston are not accidental. It took careful planning and cooperation between people, businesses, investors and government. Economic conditions and timing play a role also. Government legislation should encourage and nurture responsible investment in our community, not discourage it. It is our governments’ responsibility to identify and remove any and all obstacles that prevent responsible investment, unless the government itself is the obstacle.

Booms
I don’t know how long this current housing boom is going to last, but it will end sooner or later as all cycles do. Andersonville, Evanston and even Uptown have taken full advantage of the 10 year explosion in real estate values and avid investor interest. Have you been to Bryn Mawr lately? Their neighborhoods are booming because people had a vision, they had a plan and they executed their plans pretty well, apparently.

If You Create It, They Will Come
“If you want retail, add people” says an MPC (Metropolitan Planning Council) spokesperson. We don’t need to build bigger buildings to add people and attract retail, as she is suggesting. Andersonville didn’t do that. I used to live there, when Andies was a cool little hole in the wall and before this current rebirth of that part of Clark Street. Andersonville did not add density by building it. They are adding density from outside the community by creating a destination. A place where people want to go and spend the day. A place where people feel safe. Building bigger in Rogers Park to add density is baloney. Create a safe environment by getting rid of the criminals. Reduce the high concentration of subsidized, low income housing, have a vision, create a destination, enact the plan and they will come.
That, my friends is how the free market can work.

And Bust
It makes me upset that I MUST use my car to go shopping. We all seem to be doing that. We support other communities and neglect ours because we have no choice. That doesn’t make me feel very good. I want to walk to shop, know all the shop keepers and stop and chat on the street with my neighbors. Why can’t we have that on Howard Street?Howard Street was, at one time, the place to be. The destination.
Now, it’s a place to be avoided at all costs. It’s embarrassing.

Gary Fuschi

October 3, 2005

Money Follows Low Income

During the summer, two of us were at Dominick’s getting petitions signed. One man listened and couldn’t refrain from telling us he worked for non-profits and stated ‘ hey, the hard truth is money follows the low-income’. He proceeded to brag about buying a nice property out of the country from his good work. He also managed to project that NOH was not going to change because there’s too much money to be made. Little did he know the person with me has been held hostage in a bad building. The raw truth angered both of us.

For some to proclaim that we are suspicious about the Paulina zoning, well, raw truth is ‘yes we are’ . We have good reason to be wary when you look at the picture.
Here’s a view south on the east side of Paulina. All exempt properties, in a tangled web known as and owned by Good News something or the other.
Paulina view south
Here’s the view to the North. It stretches from the kitchen to the alternative high school to the end of the gravel parking lot.
Paulina view north

Do we really think this exmption will sell and move? We can wish, but with the flow of religious money from the North Shore, chances are it will expand, not move. Expansion as is more of the same, not commercial or condos.

Paulina church.kitchen

The same applies for the alternative high school. At least it is a motivation to young people, which is more than some of the street has to offer.

Paulina AHS

The women’s shelter was open. I walked in and looked around. There were bright blue stackable bunk beds against the wall. In the center was a lounging area with bookcases. The woman at the door figured I was an instrument of evil, so I left. I’d seen ‘residential’ on the ground level. From emails back and forth, this shelter was not set up with community approval but it’s here. Residential on ground level. So why re-zone?

Residence on gound level

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to a woman who resides there. She’s an adult with children. She has a curfew of 7pm on most nights. The women don’t cook as a communal team, taking turns with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Instead they are to eat breakfast and dinner in the soup kitchen. They are to clean the shelter, take out the trash, and if they do pick up food to share with their children, they have to eat it the same day.

To me, this is emotional blackmail, almost a hostage situation, a further breakdown of self-esteem. For a woman and/or her children to escape an abusive relationship is not easy or without scars. For a shelter to give the message ‘here, be grateful, you and your children have a roof over your head’. Now take yourselves across the street and eat with all the strange ones society has to offer. If the kids haven’t seen it all before they landed here, they soon will. But it’s probably a sweet deal between the shelter and the kitchen.

With a sweet deal like this, does anyone really think this property will be sold for ‘residential’? Hell no. The proposed zoning will only ensure that the owner of most of the east side of the block (and a fair portion of the west) can do what he will without community approval. It happened with community disapproval, so what is there to stop him with the ‘permitted by right’ add-on? Nothing.

While I was watching the mothers and children sweeping and cleaning out front, a sleek silver Mercedes drove up. The driver was the proverbial blue haired lady with no city sticker - leading me to believe another North Shore ‘helper’. She popped the trunk and pulled out pillows and other necessities for the shelter. While the meaning and intent is kind , it’s just another indicator of the ‘faith based tax exempt’ state that we didn’t vote on, buy into, or much less want more of. Too much of it has hindered this little pocket, but heavens, we just can’t have that in Kenilworth can we?

To cleanse their moneyed souls, they donate money and shelter items as long as we keep the ‘outcasts of society and the poor’ in this little pocket.

So apparently the man at Dominicks was not exaggerating…money follows low income.

Documents for PIN:11-30-218-002-0000


Document No. Document Type Date Recorded Grantor/Trust No. Grantee/Trust No. Prior Document
92372630 LIS PENDENS 05/29/1992 CHICAGO CITY CHICAGO TITLE & TRUST CO
88598470 QUIT CLAIM DEED 12/29/1988 GOOD NEWS NORTH HOWARD I GOOD NEWS COMM CH NORTH

October 2, 2005

How Do We Get There From Here

How Do We Get There From Here
I had submitted a piece for Toni to post and pulled it after reading Pamela’s response to the Hugh Report just posted in the Broken Heart blog. Kudos to you Pamela, because in order for our community to make any progress on issues that have plagued us for so long, we need to change the way we have been thinking. The current administration doesn’t have to spend any time devising strategies to divide and conquer his opposition. We seem to be doing that just fine, on our own.

We need to find common ground because without reasonable agreement, we are advancing nothing but the status quo. This might be a good place to begin because I think, most of us agree, for one reason or another, that the status quo is not working. Let’s explore how we might effectively start to change that.

Vision ( or lack thereof )
Vision is nothing more than recognizing what is not working and imagining how it could be. Not everyone can do this because it takes imagination, creative thinking and usually involves some risk. Vision allows us to peek into the future. It’s a creative process that includes photographs, drawings and blueprints of strategies that have worked well in other communities like ours. A successful vision involves a comprehensive, objective review of problems and priorities.

It is a process that requires community input and a synergistic relationship between us and the people we elect to help us carry out this vision. This is a fundamental and dynamic change from the status quo. It allows us to work together as a community towards a common goal. It insures us control and a voice in our future.

I don’t fault our Alderman for not having a vision because not everyone does. But I do fault him for not recognizing the need for it. I do fault him for not hiring people who do this successfully in other communities. I think it might be time to put our egos on the shelf for awhile and recognize that we need help here. There are consulting firms with architects, urban planners, designers etc.that can help us realize this vision. We are not the only community with these problems.

This process will take time and effort and lots of patience and understanding. But once the vision starts taking shape, we will have achieved the first important milestone to making it happen. Finding common ground. Speaking with a unified voice.
Don’t scoff. We’ve done this before, just recently in fact. Someone had an idea about developing our lakefront that we didn’t agree with. That amendment was voted down by such an overwhelming majority, that it shocked us at the time.

Community agreement shouldn’t be such an anomaly. It is a luxury we cannot afford.
Events seem to be spiraling out of control, especially NOH and the longer we wait, the harder it will be to correct these problems. In the meantime, all efforts should be concentrated on defeating the new zoning issue, especially as it relates to Paulina.

The Plan
Scattershot policies result in scattershot results, with sometimes accidental and unintended consequences. We need a plan. The vision, the common ground we can develop needs structure and a realistic timetable. This will allow all of us to measure progress along the way, but most importantly it provides a framework for accountability. This seems to be missing in the way things are currently set up. With accountability we can recognize failure early and act accordingly. Without vision and a comprehensive plan, we are just settling for more of the same. The same as it ever was.

Gary Fuschi

October 1, 2005

Community Dig Out

There were looks of sheer mortification when I suggested that we need a 'community dig out' to get this field house started. What a media sight - neighbors save city money and dig out the foundation. That was nearly two years ago and I've seen many such looks since. That was before 'hired trucks' and the subsequent scandals that have floated to the top. Each month brings a higher over budget dollar amount. Many remember the big presentation in the spring of 2005, the promise of yes, this will be built by the Chicago Park District. I still maintain that people digging to preserve the integrity of promises on hold just might prompt them to get the show on the road. Anyone else there with a good digger? Remember, if you want something done right, do it yourself.
PS It is now October 2005
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CHRONOLOGY FOR THE FIELD HOUSE PROJECT

Fall 1996 – community members started to plan for a community youth center.

April 1997 – Community members contact Alderman Moore, Loyola University, and various developers to float the idea of using money from other developments to fund the center.

May 1997 - Alderman Moore, in his State of the Ward address states the need for a youth center in the Ward.

June 1997 – Youth organizations met to dialogue, outlining concerns. Political leaders were targeted to help in the funding process. Possible sites, north of Howard Street, were explored.

July 1997 - Loyola architects drew up plans for a youth center after viewing possible sites.

Fall 1997 – Youth organizations met and promised to work collaboratively through all the processes and to get letters of support from their organizations. Alderman Moore met with all youth organizations and other community liaisons to introduce Rudy Mulder, would be developer of the Gateway Shopping Center who made a pledge of $500,000. that did not materialize.

Oct-Dec. 1997 - Loyola U. organization, CURL, undertakes a youth survey to get input.

Jan – April 1998 – CURL holds focus groups to gain additional input.

May 1998 – Highlights of North of Howard Youth recommendations were presented to the public.

Summer 1998 – Chicago Park District works with community focus groups on developing a plan for a park and field house.
- The Chicago Park District presented a plan for the 20,000 sq. ft. field house. It was formally accepted by Chicago Park District, Gale Local School Council and principal, and Alderman Joe Moore.

1998-2001 – Major funders step forward to underwrite the cost of the 16,000 Sq. Ft. one story field house: Alderman Joe Moore, State Rep. Julie Hamos, Sen. Carol Ronen, Seabury Foundation, Chicago Park District.

Oct. 2001 – Chicago Park District present a proposal to develop a “school-park partnership” utilizing part of Gale Academy and reducing the size of the “stand alone” field house to 9,000 sq. ft. The community demonstrated that this proposal would not work as school facilities are needed daily for recreation use.

Oct. 2002 – Chicago Park District states they would break ground “next spring” (2003), on the $4.6 million, 16,000 sq.ft.

Fall 2002 – Spring 2005. Three separate groundbreaking take place.

Fall 2004 – The Park District states that there are zoning issues that need to be resolved before putting the building out for bid.

Nov. 2004 – The Park District did an internal review which showed the project $1.5M over budget, and adjustments would need to be made to bring it in line with the budget.

March 2005 – NOHPAC and community members petition the Park Board to proceed with haste on the field house.

March 2005 - Community leaders meet with all the major CPD staff and the Mayors office to demand that CPD present the inal plans for review , and to present a final timeline –in writing - to the community Apr. 12, and to begin digging the hole in Sept. 2005 and complete in time for summer programming in 2006.
- CPD promised to take the shortfall ($1.5 M) out of CPD budget. They promise to: 1. complete the transfer of funds from CPD to Chicago Building Commission by summer. CBD promises to complete its bidding process by September and to begin digging in October 2005.

Apr. 2005 – CPD makes their presentation showing minor cosmetic adjustments to bring project into line with the budget.

Aug. 2005 - Chicago Park District and the Chicago Building Commission now informs NOHPAC that the project is now $1.8 million over budget, and the digging would start in NOVEMBER. NOHPAC states that CPD has the responsibility to make up the shortfall, and to keep their commitment to begin digging in October.