Conference Reporter December 2007

Vol. 13, No. 3. Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Chicago. Text version.

 

Eli Ungar Discusses Future Plans, Impact of MAC Purchases
As in the December 2007 Conference Reporter

The Conference in Action:


By Gary Ossewaarde

On October 16 Eli Ungar, founder and owner of Antheus Capital and MAC Apartments/Property Management, met over 100 residents and tenants at the Neighborhood Club. The open discussion was part of a continuing series of forums held and planned by HPKCC and its committees on matters of public concern and the future of the neighborhood.

Arranged at the suggestion of Conference member Mary Rose Shaughnessy and Mr. Ungar, the meeting was called because of widespread letters and expressions of concern about Ungar’s acquisition of a large percentage of rental properties in Hyde Park since 2002, with intent to “improve“ and hold them long term as rental, and also about Antheus’ planned or envisioned new developments at 56th/Cornell and 51st/Lake Park.

Catching public attention particularly was Ungar’s purchase of 43 properties from K&G Management this year (and later reports of missteps in absorbing and managing these properties) and resulting concern that rents would go up, threatening affordability and economic diversity in Hyde Park. Both MAC renters and other residents attended and spoke up on both specific and general issues.

Mary Rose Shaughnessy warned that because the company owns so much locally, expanded so rapidly and is beholden to nonresident investors it has little incentive to listen to tenants and, should economic troubles come, many residents could be priced out and many buildings become troubled.

Mr. Ungar replied that his success is tied to the neighborhood’s, that he is here for the long run (later citing their gifts to Kenwood Academy and Bret Harte), has a wide range and size of structures, and his strategy caters to serving a strong demand no one else is filling—rental demand, for many income levels. Jack Spicer added that it may be advantageous to be able bring problems and demands to a few large property holders, using tenant councils to deal with the owners.

Mr. Ungar readily apologized for managerial, scale, service, and construction mistakes. He promised his companies will do better, has been hiring, and results will show within weeks. Backlogged orders are mostly done; the Windermere and Algonquin work is getting on track and will be far from minimal. Ungar said he intends to adhere to high standards all renters have a right to expect in their homes and from their manager:

· units clean, well-lit, with heating and conditioning working,
· requests get response within a day,
· work done courteously and thoroughly,
· tenants get what is promised.

Ungar said the newly acquired buildings range from those that turned out to be uninhabitable and had to be emptied and put on a schedule for rehab, those that allow a choice between substantial upgrading with higher rents or repair for more affordable rents, and buildings that need minimum fixing up. A large set represented a deteriorating set of housing stock—here was an opportunity help a neighborhood already characterized by stability, even though any improvement posed risks to affordability and diversity. He noted that condo conversion would undermine stability and affordability faster. The rental units in Hyde Park-Kenwood went down from 22,000 in 2002 to 17,000 in 2007. No one has tried or been able to put up a new rental building in the area since 1989.

He said that to address these concerns in some buildings he is building out new basement apartments and substituting individual heating units in each apartment for central. This spreads general costs so the units can be kept more affordable or enables keeping a unit or so at a lower rent/ (Tenants in these buildings would pay utilities according to usage.) The overall result is more affordable units per building than the city’s 10 percent standard. He also said he will consider being more conservative, at least with some buildings, in introducing the kind of “improvements” that only cater to and can be paid for with considerably higher rents. He (and others) cautioned against simply not charging market rents, suggesting seeking subsidy programs or a community fund. He also criticized a burdensome and “capriciously” applied property tax assessment that also penalizes multi-units, assessed at 22% vs. homes at 16%. He agreed with an upset neighbor to better communication with neighbors when renovating buildings.

While rents in most MAC buildings have not been significantly increased, he agreed that the Algonquin buildings in the northeast Hyde Park triangle are an exception. (One renter said she now spends 50% of her income on rent there). The buildings had been neglected, he alleged, and were bought after a failed condo conversion attempt. These high rents—and people are renting there—is the only way to afford the difficult and costly building-by-building renovation needed. 93% of the small units will meet the HUD standard for affordability, but few of the larger units will, his breakdown showed.

Mr. Ungar suggested the neighborhood work together to find solutions to the strongly expressed concern that the middle class, professional, and retired backbone of Hyde Park may be forced out. Mr. Rumsey announced that a new coalition dedicated to solutions to these and other affordability concerns would hold its inaugural open meeting December 5, 7 pm at the Neighborhood Club.

There was only brief discussion of Mr. Ungar’s new projects, such as possible increase in density or poorly directed traffic and drives at Windermere West (56th/Cornell). Building for rental would require sky-high rents and either wouldn’t lease or push all rents up. Retail would be inappropriate at that location, he said. Parking at 1.7 spaces per unit is higher than for most developments and may allow spaces for neighbors. The city approves the roadway and entry configurations. The proposal goes before the planning department in November. A public meeting will be held.

Phase I of Village Center (Lake Park and East Hyde Park), at the present main building and lot, is in planning and will be brought to the community “soon.”

Asked how the neighborhood and its resources could be helped to thrive and hence make his holdings successful, he suggested improved retail offerings.

In closing remarks, Shaughnessy said she is still concerned about consequences if market experience doesn’t bear our Ungar’s hopes. Ungar insisted he is conservatively financed and has paid and will be able to pay the bills and is committed to communication and dialogue with the community and tenants. His goal is be here in 20 years with the same buildings attracting full leasing and growing in value.

HPKCC seeks to continue dialogue on MAC progress and on strategies for economic diversity, possibly through a reconvening of the forum in a few months.


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School Committee, KOCO Meet with Senator Raoul

by Julie Woestehoff

The HPKCC Schools Committee and the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) Mid-South Education Association co-sponsored a meeting with Senator Kwame Raoul on Monday, August 20th, 2007 at Kennicott Park.

Attending from the Schools Committee were Anthony Vinson, Annika Frazier-Muhammed, Gary Ossewaarde, Larry Turpin and Julie Woestehoff. There were also several students, parents and community residents representing KOCO in attendance.

KOCO President Jitu Brown opened the meeting at 6:20 with introductions and a welcome to Sen. Raoul. He briefly reviewed the history of the school reform law – why and how it came to be, what it has meant to the community, and the success of LSCs as a school reform and civic empowerment strategy. He also mentioned some of the CPS policies and
practices, such as school closings, which have hit KOCO’s community especially hard.

Julie Woestehoff spoke a few words about the Schools Committee’s efforts to support LSCs and its current interest in expanding out-of-school activities for local youth in our community.

Sen. Raoul gave a brief overview of his position on LSCs. He said that he is in favor of the concept of LSCs but is concerned about whether they are competent to make judgments about the schools. He acknowledged that the recent events in Springfield have also called into question the ability of state legislators to do their job.

Regarding SJR0058

Senator reported that this past spring, Arne Duncan, whom he describes as a childhood friend, approached him to sponsor a resolution to set up a task force to study LSCs. He declined, in part because he is not a member of the Senate Education Committee, and also because the Democratic chair of the Education Committee, Sen. Kimberley Lightford, chose not to be a sponsor. However, Sen. Raoul agreed to ask the ranking Republican on the Education Committee, Sen. Dan Cronin, to sponsor the bill. Sen. Cronin agreed.

In retrospect, Sen. Raoul agreed that the resolution had some weaknesses, including the fact that the task force that would be set up to study LSCs had no LSC or other community representation. He noted that the bill died without ever coming up for a vote.

In explaining his reasons for supporting the bill, Sen. Raoul referenced the situation at Curie High School last spring, where the LSC chose not to renew the principal's contract. When asked to explain what he thought was wrong with the Curie High School's decision, Sen. Raoul acknowledged that he only knew what he had read in the newspapers and that media reports can be one-sided or inaccurate. He also stated that he generally does not support “reactionary” legislation, that is, legislation
designed to address some specific high-profile situation. He feels that this is often bad legislation.

He did say he thought he could be in favor of HJR0071, which also calls for a study of LSCs, but in an open public hearing process. Several LSC members made the point that LSCs need more support and that often the support they get from CPS causes more problems tha[n] it resolves.

Throughout the session, attendees raised many other excellent points which Sen. Raoul seemed to appreciate. He stated that the meeting had definitely raised his awareness of the number of constituents of is who are interested and well-informed about LSC issues, and committed to make an effort to reach out when these issues come up. He also specifically offered the services of his office for LSC members who are having difficulties getting information they need or other obstacles to the performance of their duties.

Overall, the meeting was quite successful. It was respectful, friendly, open and honest – a good first step in building an effective working relationship with Senator Raoul on education issues.

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HPKCC Schools Committee Organizes Youth Workshop for Youth Activity Providers

by Nancy Baum

On Wednesday, October 17, 2007, the Schools Committee organized a nifty little workshop at the United Church of Hyde Park for youth activity providers in the area interested in applying for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). Andrew Fernandez, Director of Youth Services, Department of Children and Youth Services of the City of Chicago, presented the inspiring workshop. Activity-providers representing the following organizations attended: After School Art, The Black Star Project, Children’s Rendez-vous, Creative Mansion Children’s Academy Before and After School Program, Hyde Park Learning Resources Center, Hyde Park Suzuki Institute, Hyde Park School of Ballet, Joan’s Studio, The Oriental Institute, and St. Paul and the Redeemer Church. Other community members attended also, from the Schools Committee, the Kenwood Academy Local School Council, and Barbara Flynn Currie’s Office. The group was grateful and enthusiastic and used the workshop not only for informational purposes but also to network with fellow activity providers and to reflect on ways in which they could adapt their programs to fit into block grant guidelines. One activity provider is motivated to meet soon with Canter School to see how its program could dovetail with and enhance Canter’s after-school program.

Mr. Fernandez explained that CDBG-funded youth programs serve more than 10,000 young Chicagoans ages 6 to 18. The department receives approximately $10 million in annual CDGB funds to support programs that include after-school programs, mentoring programs, child and adolescent counseling, homeless youth services. These program can occur after 2:30, on holidays and teachers’ institute days and during the summer. There are major grants and mini-grants. There are grants for programs such as internships for 16-18-year-olds working with a 501(c)3s, apprenticeships for 13-15-year-olds, and summer enhancement programs for 10-13-year-olds.

Mr. Fernandez handed out a folder describing the complete array of Children and Youth Services programs as well as a copy of the rather lengthy Mini Grant Application for the summer of 2007 which is due April 20, 2007. For information call the Mini Grant Hotline at 312-743-6313. The 2009 CDBG grant applications are due on June 8, 2008 for 2009 and will only be available online at cityofchicago.org (under CDGB applications). In order to obtain this application potential applicants need an access code which will be given to you at an event held by the Office of Budget Management at McCormick Place sometime in March along with a booklet listing departments that provide funds, counseling, mentoring whom activity providers are invited to consult for technical assistance. The date of this meeting can be obtained by calling Mr. Fernandez or by going online to cityofchicago.org (Office of Budget Management) sometime in February or March.

Mr. Fernandez stayed to answer many eager questions and thankfully gave out his card with the following phone number and e-mail address: 312-743-0938, Andrew.fernandez@cityofchicago.org. One certainly will need a human being to contact to cut through some of the city government bureaucracy.

The Schools Committee will soon release the updated version of its list of youth activity providers to Local School Councils and principals of schools in the area for distribution to parents. This project derived from the Schools Committee’s conversations with Local School Council members and principals who expressed a need for after-school and days off programs. This list will also be online at hydepark.org.

The Schools Committee is always seeking members willing to come to our periodic meetings. The next one is on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 6:30-8pm at the United Church of Hyde Park, 1448 E. 53rd St., Blackstone entrance. You can help with various projects such as the one just described. We are committed to bringing issues of importance before the community so that we can make our schools places to which parents will continue to be proud to send their children. Call Nancy Baum at (773) 288-5464 or contact her at nbbaum@sbcglobal.net. HPKCC Board Members who are on the committee include: Peter Cassell, Judy Dupont, Tracy Lampkins, Julie Monberg and Gary Ossewaarde. Other wonderful members of the community are also regularly involved: Annika Frazier-Muhammad, Zoe Mikva, David Nekimken. the Reverend Larry Turpin, and Julie Woestehoff.

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Condos/Coops+:
Associations Learn Key Financial Priorities, Steps at November Forum

by Gary Ossewaarde

Condominium, cooperative and town home association owner members learned of law changes and heard important advice on handling finances, collection of assessments, delinquencies, and loans at a HPKCC Condos Co-ops Plus Committee forum November 6 at Bank Financial in Hyde Park. Presenters were John H. Bickley III, attorney at Kovitz Shifron Nesbit, Teresa Handley, Regional Senior Vice President at Bank Financial, and Ken Sticken, Regional Vice President at Bank Financial.

While experts recommend that associations hire an attorney and all but the smallest hire a management company, we can “lift the veil” a bit with some of what was learned in the presentations and "q- and- a."

· Associations should keep a complete ledger of transactions that includes what members owe and amount and date of payment or nonpayment. From this can be demonstrated consistency, diligence, and patterns of costs and cash flow. This will be needed in pursuing delinquencies, seeking a loan, or in case of a lawsuit.

· Keep records from the start, including changes to bylaws, rules and directors.

· Collection of assessments is the key ongoing financial duty of the association.

· Delinquencies need to be pursued immediately, correctly, and every time. If the series of legal steps is followed in timely manner, the association can use Illinois’ unique Forcible Entry and Detainer law to take possession, ahead of the unit owner’s mortgage holder. The court process for the association is uniquely fast, so in a few months, if the association has followed the law exactly and timely, it can gain possession to rent the unit (recommended on a month-to-month basis) up to 13 months to recoup the delinquencies. Then it can sell.

· One of the first things an association needs to do, and should repeat after a number of years is have a thorough engineering study of what it has, each item’s value, when it needs to be replaced, and what the costs are. This should be used to determine the required Capital Reserve Fund.

· Having and correctly using the reserve fund. It may not be necessary to actually have that amount in the bank, so long as a loan can be taken to cover needs. The reserve account should be used for normal wear and tear, replacement of routine elements as they reach the expected time for replacement or renewal, and for emergencies. But it matters that the work really be done, not deferred. This will also let the association build a record for borrowing. Borrowing was recommended for the big capital expenditures—porches, elevators, tuck pointing, roof—items that are covered by special assessments.

· Both loans and the assessments to cover them can be set up with options, including spread out over up to ten years. Many financial institutions now provide loans to associations per se. Getting a loan depends in good measure on having that good track record and documentation of following the engineering study, maintaining the capital reserve, and diligently and consistently collecting assessments and otherwise showing that the association can carry the debt load.

To be on a list for personal notification of future forums (although we cannot guarantee sending of notices for all forums) or to join the committee, contact us at hpkcc@aol.com or 773 288-8343 and we will pass the information to committee chair Jay Ammerman and to Mr. Bickley.

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Brighten Your Winter with Garden Lectures

by Trish Morse

When the clouds hang low with the threat of snow and the wind whips cold off the Lake, it's time to think "Gardens!"

The Garden FAir Committee of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference will sponsor four talks on gardening, Tuesday evenings in January and February at 7:00 P.M. in the meeting hall of Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago.

Last winter's lectures--on gardening in small places, native plants, growing vegetables on windowsills, and roses--were a refreshing reminder of spring in the dead of winter. And they inspired many experiments--including the tomato that live in my kitchen window this summer.

On January 15, Carolyn Ulrich, Editor of Chicagoland Gardening (www.chicagolandgardening.com), Hyde Parker, and Garden Fair Committee member, will launch the series. She'll show us how we can have "Continuous Color" all summer long. Her photos promise to be a great relief in the grey of January.

Anna Viertel of the Chicago Botanic Garden School of Gardening will inspire us to dream of the great tastes of organic produce and the pleasures of "Green Gardening" (January 22). Better yet, she'll give us the practical know-how to tackle sustainable gardening in an urban environment.

In the cold of winter, it's great to remember what it's like to kick back with an iced tea in the shade and relish the play of the summer sun through the leaves overhead. In spring, shrubs all over Hyde Park/Kenwood thrill us with explosions of color. A representative from The Care of Trees will speak on "Woody Plants for the City Garden" (January 29) so we can grow our own shade and produce our own spring fireworks.

On February 5, the series will conclude by training us in "Guerilla Gardening." For those of us who think we don't have space to garden, we'll learn to "Make the Most of Overlooked Spaces" from Bruce Tammen. Though he is far better known as the founder and conductor of the Chicago Chorale and earlier the choral conductor at the University of Chicago, he also is renowned as a talented guerrilla gardener right her in Hyde Park.

For details see hydeparkgardenfair.org or call (773) 288-3716.

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53rd Street Workshop in December Catches Development at the Crossroads

by Gary Ossewaarde

As development and retail questions reach a critical juncture in our neighborhood, the HPKCC Board and Development, Preservation, and Zoning committee have been discussing how we can contribute to the ongoing debate. A leader in Hyde Park and mid-South repositioning, Hank Webber, is leaving and will be sorely missed. Harper Court is about to issue its Request for Qualifications to developers. Members of the Hyde Park Co-op are asked to take the most serious vote in its history. The next TIF meeting could have a crowded agenda, and at the least has as backdrop Harper Court, 53rd/Kenwood (Mobil site), 53rd/Cornell, and updates on the Harper Theatre redevelopment. Outside the TIF are 56th/Cornell, Doctors Hospital, and more. And there is the market and economy.

There is the tug of war between those anxious for more development (retail or residential) and those who want less or none and over differing visions about the kind of neighborhood we want to live in. Others point out that Hyde Park development, despite a recent city Zoning Ordinance that invites community-wide planning, proceeds piecemeal and by exception, in reality holding it back. And the city also turns its back on strategic planning and deep-sixes revenue sharing by raising parking costs and property taxes steeply--to get revenue rather than to manage or tailor growth.

Our board and committee take into account findings from the workshops and forums HPKCC has held over the past five years, current proposals and rebuttals to them, residents’ fruitful letters and redevelopment schemes sent to the Herald and to us, and principles from the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and private foundations: principles, sometimes competing, that include transit oriented development, pedestrian-friendly scale and streetscape, incubating new and small businesses, adaptive reuse, inspiring architecture, green and sustainable structures, a mix of incomes, maintaining affordability. And we ponder what we can salvage from the shelved 2000 Vision for Hyde Park Retail District prepared by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and the city.

One of our conclusions is that no one organization but rather the whole community and its many organizations together must advance to the next step. In fact, at the July 2007 TIF meeting an exercise in commercial street and development planning involving an outreach by the University of Minnesota’s Corridor Housing Initiative was discussed. The potential of such a workshop was described in the October Conference Reporter along with warnings against retail development for misguided objectives. Such a convened “vision workshop” is now at hand and the Conference is among its sponsors.

We urge our members to attend the Come Vote: 53rd St. Vision Workshop December 8, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave. Browse our Development-related pages in hydepark.org for background articles and an array of neighbor’s ideas and reactions—and come prepared to think outside the box.

Be aware that the workshop follows close upon the inaugural open meeting of the new Coalition for Equitable Development (December 5, 7 pm at the Neighborhood Club), likely disclosure of new plans for the Mobil Site (based upon intent of Alderman Preckwinkle to seek lifting of current height restrictions there), Village Center at 51st and Lake Park, and 53rd and Cornell, and possible consideration of alternatives for the Hotel project at Doctors Hospital. Keep in mind also projects that seem to be moving toward successful ends—the Theater redevelopment, 56thCornell (if the school is accommodated), and prospectively, just maybe, Doctors Hospital. Then plug in your thoughts, hopes, ideals for Harper Court and 53rd Street.

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Development, Preservation, Zoning Committee Reports on HP Activities

Gary Ossewaarde chaired the meeting. Attendees were George Davis, Trish Morse, George Rumsey, Jack Spicer, and Vicki Suchovsky. The committee discussed development proposals in the neighborhood and topics for follow-up.

Doctors Hospital. Jack Spicer showed us that architects engaged by the Historical Society and Landmarks Illinois drew up two alternatives that meet all the requirements and needs of the University and their developer using the existing building. It's ten stories at its highest; plan two keeps the 170 feet of green space the University (although not necessarily neighbors) insists upon keeping for its future development, an is about 20 percent cheaper. Members shared what they have been hearing about the University being not as keen on its plans as it had been. Doctors Hospital was said to be a good test or demonstration experiment as to whether community input not only gets listened to by gives a better result.

53rd Street. The University was reported to be considering seriously how a large part of 53rd Street might be remade. The TIF will hold a workshop on 53rd Street development December 8. The committee will recommend that he Conference wil encourage attendance but not otherwise participate (but the board would have to consider should we be asked.) Members said they would like to see and independent community-based planning process with professionals undertake planning for 53rd Street. This will be brought to the board for discussion and some members will touch bases with groups such as National Trusts's Main Street that have conducted such processes well and with respect for the individuality of communities. In general, members felt that no one local organization--and clearly not the TIF Council-- can speak exclusively for the neighborhood on major development issues. We can encourage their coming together, hold workshops, etc. The problem, it was said is getting any study paid attention to (witness the 2000 Vision for Hyde Park Retail).

Harper Court. No new news, but it will move. Members asked how we can encourage carrying out old purposes, and maybe find another vehicle other than the current board.

Mobil McDonalds. Alderman Preckwinkle told a small meeting that she intends to seek a planned development zoning variance for a building higher than 50 feet--this may well come up at the November 19 TIF. Jack Spicer circulated a paper setting forth problems with this plan from both 53rd character and history and general principles of not giving public value to private persons through piecemeal up-zoning that [is] not part of larger planning and contrary to historic planning for 53rd St.

Members said we need to be focusing and listening on the whole set of proposals cropping up and see how the committee might evolve into a larger role... in community input and planning.

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View from the Parks: Gains, and Olympic Sweat

View from the Parks: Gains, Pains and Olympic Sweat

by Gary Ossewaarde

Out parks saw completion this year of some long-awaited projects:

Frustrations continued with a growing backlog of deferred parks maintenance and regular upkeep, staff that is not increased enough and efficiently deployed, communications/IT that hasn't caught up, and inadequate funding compounded by a high debt load. Superintendent Mitchell and staff spend much time squeezing funds from Springfield and Washington. Yes, our representatives there and in City Council have found scarce funds for projects in our parks. But one wonders how Chicago proposes to undertake an Olympics with such poor investment in parks, transit and infrastructure.

The Conference submitted to the Mayor, the Olympic Bid Committee, and the Park District a full catalogue of needs to be studied and addressed with public input, if the city is to undertake and the citizens to support an Olympics in 2016--and even if Chicago is not selected. Our delegation discussed these with Park District staff but have yet to receive a reply. And no general community meeting for Hyde Park concerns is in sight.

The 2016 Committee has held a well-attended first stage meeting with the Washington Park community, has held discussions with several stakeholder organizations and councils, and has at least four members from the mid South Side.

The Committee, accompanied by experienced Olympic planners, presented and answered questions with the Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC) September 10 on the the Olympic field hockey facility. Her is a brief summary, based on JPAC's newsletter.:

Presenters stressed their intent to keep impacts very temporary and very localized and to leave a lasting legacy improvement, principally two artificial surface, fully accessible soccer fields. Otherwise the park would be returned to present state and uses. They promised continuing engagement in an open, fair, collaborative process. Q & A:

HPKCC Meets with Chicago Park District about the Olympics

As per agreement of the Parks Committee, a delegation met with the Chicago Park District Department of External Affairs on August 21, 2007, to discuss Conference questions and concerns about the 2016 Olympics. Attending for the Conference were george Rumsey, president, and Gary Ossewaarde, Parks chair. Attending for the CPD was Janis Taylor.

Ms. Taylor was given copies of the original February 25, 2007 letter with document of questions and queries sent to Mayor Daley, Chicago 2016, and Parks Superintendent and CEO Timothy Mitchell; a shortened version on parks impacts; and two features from the August 2007 Conference Reporter, "Party in the Parks" and "Olympic Process and Outcome Questioned by HPKCC Committee, Neighborhood."

George Rumsey discussed neighborhood and Conference concerns about continuing lack of community conversation an involvement on developing Olympic plans, and strong fears and opposition form many in the community. He noted that opinion ranges from strong support to outright opposition as expressed by Hyde Park Historical Society and Jackson Park Advisory Council. Reasons for opposition range, he said, from very practical matters such as fire truck access to a feeling that giving Washington and Jackson Parks to the Olympics violated public trust and purpose of parks and took what belongs tot eh citizens. Detailed concerns cover what will happen before, during, and after the Olympics. He noted that the Conference has not yet taken a position on supporting the Olympics.

Rumsey cited examples of Hyde Parkers backing up their strong opinions and said residents need to be engaged and have their concerns addressed as early as possible, whether or not details are available, if difficulties are to be avoided. The International Committee, he noted, insists on strong local support when choosing an Olympic site. Rumsey concluded by proposing community advisory task forces.

Ms. Taylor, who during her many years at the Park District has dealt with implementing projects and proposals in parks and volunteer programs, agreed to bring our message to her superiors, to ask when local meetings will start and answers be available, and said that the rule is to meet with communities to vet projects and proposals.

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From the President's Desk... George W. Rumsey

Community debates, such as the current discussion about the future of the Hyde Park Co-op, tend to bring out the spark in Hyde Parkers. No where is this more apparent than on the internet.

Of course, the HPKCC website, hydepark.org, is a treasure trove of information, thanks to the diligent work of Gary Ossewaarde. And the Co-op's website (www.coopmarkets.com), maintained by Jay Mulberry, provides useful guidance regarding the membership vote.

But some of the most amusing exchanges occur between the "dueling bloggers." Next time you're on Google, search for "Hyde Park progress" (hydeparkprogress.blogspot.com) to see why you should vote for Option A (or "blow up the Co-op," as one recent headline exclaimed). Then search for "hyde park urbanist" (alwaysintransit.typepad.com/hyde_park_urbanist) for the counter arguments of why you should vote for Option B and help save the Co-op.

This open exchange of ideas (and opinions) is healthy for Hyde Park.

From the Board

October "1st Meeting"

Rumsey announced newly elected board members Lenora Austin, Richard Buchner, Peter Cassel, Mike Doss, Mark Granfors, and Tracy Lampkins and welcomed those present, and congratulated re-elected Nancy Baum and Trish Morse. The Annual Meeting September 16 was well attended. Both Aldermen spoke and answered questions. Member Irene Sherr presented an exercise on density and development.

Rumsey noted that Jay Ammerman and the nominating committee agreed that Jay will take his year off from the board this year (a year early), but continue to chair the Condos Committee. Members expressed their deep gratitude for Jay's services.

Candidates for the Nominating Committee (selected by the Executive Committee) were approved: Judy Dupont (chair), Jane Comiskey, and Joanne Howard. Elected from the membership were Wallace Goode, Director of the University Community Service Center, and retiring Board member James Withrow.

The Nominating Committee chair Judy Dupont announce the proposed slate of officers, to serve until the First Meeting 2008 or until their successors shall have been qualified: President, George Rumsey; vice Presidents, George Davis and Gary Ossewaarde (two to be selected); Treasurer, Irene Freelain; Secretary, Trish Morse. There being no additional nominations and upon motion of Dupont for election by acclamation, seconded by Freelain and with no objections, the slate was elected.

Rollout meeting of t he Coalition for Equitable Development (affordable housing) is December 5, 7 p.m., Neighborhood Club. A $100 appropriation was approved as contribution to the forum, as a founding member of the Coalition. The fiscal agent for the Coalition is Interfaith Open Communities (Hyde Park Cluster).

WhistleStop requested $570 to be appropriated for received shipment of 500 new whistles. The Committee sells whistles at the Co-op Customer Service Desk 2nd saturdays 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A letter regarding Doctors Hospital was distributed opposing the development on numerous grounds, signed by Leon Despres, David Moberg, Dr. Quentin Young, and Sara Paretsky (also a Maroon article). An alternate proposal prepared by architects at behest of the HP Historical Society and Landmarks Illinois will soon be shared with the University, then stakeholders including our Board. Jack Spicer said the University is firm on reserving the green space south of the proposed hotels for future development.

Ossewaarde reported that a large set of questions and concerns regarding the Olympics were raised by residents of surrounding communities at the September Jackson Park advisory Council meeting.

The schools committee hosts a block-grant writing workshop for schools and after-school providers October 17, 6 p.m. at the United Church.

November

Guest James Burke spoke for Environment Illinois, asking HPKCC to sign a letter addressed to Barbara Flynn Currie in support of a bill designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Upon review and discussion, the board voted to sign the letter.

A report was made on the October 16 community forum held with Eli Ungar to discuss Antheus Capital and Mac properties. Ungar as agreed that HPKCC can host another forum in six months to see if problems with MAC properties have improved.

James Withrow spoke in support of the Antheus Capital project at 56th Street and cornell, which has been renamed "Solstice on the Park."

A flyer was distributed advertising the 53rd street Vision Workshop organized by Alderman Preckwinkle and the TIF Advisory Council. It will be held on December 8 at the Canter Middle School. HPKCC is a sponsor.

Ossewaarde reported on Preservation, Zoning, and Development. He presented the issues facing the community: Doctors Hospital/Marriott Hotel development, 53rd Street Vision Workshop, Harper Court and the Leal projects (Mobil/McDonalds and 53rd Cornell). He reported that one goal was to avoid piecemeal zoning.

The used book sale was discussed, with a presentation of the preliminary numbers. It was clearly a success as a fund-raiser ($13,000 profit) and a community event. The possibility of having next year will be examined.

Suchovsky reported that the Sustainable Environment committee is working on the flyer to post in local businesses and plans to approach schools.

Baum reported on the Schools Committee efforts to cooperate with Alderman Preckwinkle's and [Rep.] Currie's offices to update and get wider distribution for the activities pamphlet.

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