June 19, 2008

What Damn Negotiations?

Moved from the Comment Section:

Toni, your regular "just the facts" reportage continues to be wonderful. However, that style rarely leaves room for you to strongly assert and take credit for all of the hard work that you North of Howard neighbors have accomplished. People need to be reminded of that on occasion, but you are just too darn modest!

You didn't say it, so I will. WHAT DAMN NEGOTIATIONS? This STINKS. It smells worse than the many pools of putrid rain water and garbage that swirl for days on end over the clogged drain sewers in Rogers Park! To discover after the fact that the powers-that-be and all the wannabes have been negotiating over what YOU NEIGHBORS have worked so hard to achieve is disgusting. It's yet another betrayal of our community. You should have been the first ones invited into the discussion, not the last.

Until I hear convincing arguments about an alternative, I'm going to hope that the powers-that-be help the Boys and Girls Club form an alliance with Gale School to conduct operations there with a community-based board to support it. We need them to do that.

There's no question that the "community center" goals so many of us have supported will not be realized if this non-profit group gets a contract to use the new Gale Park Field House, mainly to serve kids. What you want and what we expect is something even better.

I sense that your vision of a North of Howard community center (unlike a Boys and Girls Club) includes having it serve as a platform upon which to create and support a new sense of community, involvement, and connectedness among North of Howard area residents. The goals to serve young and older residents, of all races, and of all classes, with an understanding that they bring both problems and assets to the table are important. To date, no institution here has approached such a goal, and it's time for us to try it on for size.

A Gale Park Chicago Park District facility can develop and deliver solid enrichment programs to meet the needs of such a diverse constituency IF it has a goal-focused, dedicated, neighborhood-based advisory council with maybe a little extra attention and funding support from the park district administration. (I still want to see that needs assessment report).

It's clear you folks have the numbers, the people, the skills, the creativity, and the energy to create what could be a unique model for park district service in Chicago. I know that you also will be able to recruit unprecedented financial and volunteer support from Rogers Park businesses, residents, and institutions to help it succeed.

I encourage and support that.

Michael J. Harrington


Toni said...

I was trying to be as fair and even as my mood would allow. Deals like this don't just 'happen' - there are strings to pull, egos to stroke, promises to be made etc. Did they just recently decide to re-configure Lathrop Homes or was there a planning stage?

Our park council, called a "Club" by the alderman last summer, is represented by NFP's too. There is one member who is on DevCorps Board of Directors, Family Matters Director and community organizer, Sister Cecilia Fandel of HACC, and a new neighbor who is with Good News Partners. One of Joe's 'men' came for awhile and never returned. So we can probably trace it back to the end of 2007.

We all want something better for the youth NOH - but we also recognize unlike some - that there are other groups here who are being excluded by these negotiations. Taxpaying Voters who were stalled for years on this project. Of course the council(s) should have been included at the beginning. Perhaps some of the conspirators felt we would appear too much like their ignorant country cousins in front their visiting politico higher ups?

Craig Gernhardt said...

It took six years for the Hoover Dam to be built -- and it still works.

It's taken over 10 years for the Gale Comm(unity) Center to be built -- it's not even open yet -- and the building is dividing the community more than it is uniting them.

The buildings broken before it's even open.

Toni said...

The Building isn't dividing anyone nor is it broken. The divisive issue stems from the players who haven't been involved for the last umpteen years or since 2003 when the park council began.

Again, some of them do not LIVE HERE but are making decisions for us. They could have joined ages ago and intelligently persuaded us, like the liberal leaders they perceive themselves to be. Instead, they stayed home, not having to be bothered with anything on 'their street' and emerged like some kind of 'saviors' when they could have been saving for years!

These negotiations should include community input, making recommendations on allocating some of the space for the neighborhood, not just blindly announcing ' it's ours; this is how we make up for the pocket of poverty we created'. Then pick up their keys and go home several blocks away from the scary street of Howard.