News in depth and background: sizzling, just simmering, or lurking in the background

A service of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its website hydepark.org. Join the Conference to help support our work, and feed us NEWS! Compiler Gary Ossewaarde at HPKCC.

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The University clarifies, holding meetings about its long-term plans-- see in University and Community page. See Theater RFP.
To crime updates. To HPKCC views and analyses of the recent crimes and youth-community relations in Community Safety page.

Here:


Harper Ct. Bottom line is that the process has now been slowed way down and the development process is in the hands of the city planning department (with deciding voice likely by Ald. Preckwinkle. (More in Harper Court Sale home page and sub pages. See HPKCC positions and statements, neighbors views at forums. See various positions by HPKCC and neighbors and input into the RFP including through HPKCC organized public forums. See Conference Reporter June 2006 issue, devoted to the issue.) There is a sizable component in the community that prefers, rather than RFP, a sale to or takeover of the Court by tenants or a new broader structure and just rehabbing it and continuing its original purpose. This leaves the question of the arts council board's makeup and future and the degree and kind of public input in development if development goes forward.

The Conference in Action

Actions of HPKCC Board Endorse Original Harper Court Mission and real, Harper exclusive public process

On May 4, 2006, the Board of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference voted 12 to 1 (2 abstentions) to endorse the need to preserve, in some form or manner, the original mission of the Harper Court Foundation: "the civic purposes of furthering the trade and economic development of the Hyde Park-Kenwood area in the City of Chicago and is environs, and promoting and assisting the growth and development of business concerns, including small-business concerns in said area" with special emphasis for "the continuation in the community of artisans, craftsmen, and educational, recreational and other services offered on a commercial basis, but of special cultural or community significance" (paragraph 5, Harper Court Foundation Articles of Incorporation, April 17, 1963).

In its three public meetings since the TIF meeting, the Conference has heard a variety of worthwhile opinions and ideas that deserve exploring. There have also been several constants:

The original mission should be retained.

The current tenants should be "helped" during any construction period.

Any development must be appropriate for Hyde Park, and should preferably be appealing to a broad spectrum of the neighborhood: a "gateway" to 53rd street.

Any new development should be kept at a height consistent with 53rd Street.

Adequate parking must be provided.

Public space (including chess benches) is required.

Following lengthy discussions earlier this year with the Illinois Attorney General's Office of Charitable Trusts, the Conference raised several questions it hoped would be answered by the Arts Council. Five remain unanswered:

What is the Council's idea of appropriate development for Harper Court?

How are the Arts Council bylaws being revised to fit its new role?

What is being done to make the Council board more representative of the community, especially the arts?

What steps are being taken to eliminate conflicts of interests?

What framework will be created to make decisions about the dissemination of funds from the sale?

 

Development news:

Theater: Request for Proposal sent to developers, responses received, -see in Theater RFP page. See there about the proposed Brinshore/Baum shops development. There continues to be complaint about loss of the theatre option.

Doctor's Hospital at 5800 S. Stony Island was bought by the University of Chicago at Sept. 6 auction for 10 million.

The University will have a public process on plans, starting within a few months, Hank Webber of U of C was reported a saying. However, word is that at least most will be torn down to make way for a hotel conference complex and possibly also apartments for GSB students and that the plan will be shown after it has been developed. Degree of preservation likely was uncertain for the Schmidt, Garden and Martin originally Illinois Central Hospital, one of the first corporate hospitals in the country and source of a significant book on institutional architecture by the firm. One concept mentioned was a university-affiliated hotel for part of the site. The university analyzed the environmental conditions, Webber said, and the site will require some remediation. Zoning changes would also be needed as the current zoning is "institutional." There is plenty of room to build. Preservationists are likely to protest and fight a plan that does not preserve the main building or at least the facade. It is an "orange" building, of significance, on the Chicago Survey of Historic and Architectural Resources. See the Doctor's Hospital page.

The "nexts." A condominium building with parking on the surface lot of the Windermere, 1604-24 E. 56th St. There will be neighbors and community stakeholders meetings. 25 stories-- and a storm has brewed despite much favor for the project. Parking needs of the school and Windermere residents and businesses/clinics will be met. More in Development page, also High-Rises/condo conversion/Density and Affordable Housing.

A lease has also been signed for a brain illness scan center in the Windermere Ballroom.
And the possibility of redevelopment of Lake Village at 51st and Lake Park (although this is just a possibility. All these are owned by Antheus Capital and managed by MAC Properties.

Note, we have been told that sale of the Windermere, 1642 E. 56th, will not bring conversion or a change in the status of that large, upscale rental building. The ballroom will house a state-of-the-art neuroimaging center (in conjunction with U of C Hospitals).
Plans are being shown to stakeholders and nearby property owners on a proposed 25-story condo building in the Windermere House parking lot across the street. Parking needs in the Windermere House and for Bret Harte, and movement of traffic, and parking during construction are vexing but being worked out. And it has several green features. Most approve.


Coming next?: a 14 story proposal for the Mobil/former McDonald's site at 53rd and Kenwood-Kimbark. Probably not soon. There is hope this site could be used for now as employee parking for Kimbark Plaza.

Fernando Leal's company L3 (Jim McKevitt) presented re: 53rd Cornell development at the September 11 TIF Advisory Council meeting. They will be submitting an application for zoning change to the city in October. "If everything goes right you should see construction by spring of [2007]", McKevitt told the meeting. Size would be maybe a little higher, 15-17 stories, than previous 14-15. Some persons at the meeting opposed the height and said there had not been real public meetings or hearings (a zoning hearing will have to be held.) Preckwinkle said the issue had been thoroughly vetted in the community. Others' impression was that Mr. Leal's commitment to the project seemed weak. But they now have permits for spring 2007 and will come to the January 8 TIF meeting.
(See briefly on history of this project in "Last few Weeks" below, longer in Business Climate, Development, and High-rise/condos Scramble.)
Preckwinkle pushed for more affordable housing in Cornell-53rd as building got taller--but accepted the "affordable" buyers having another building location tbd--as of September 11, no such building had been identified in the neighborhood. The TIF Council voted OK on the project early in 2006, but a brief firestorm started over moving the affordable units off site. The project still goes before the Plan Commission and will seek both permits and the affordable off-site.

Bank of America will occupy the space vacated by Da Vita Kidney Center; University-owned Hyde Park Shopping Center was close to leasing all its vacated space. Some say there are getting to be too many bank branches, especially with Washington National taking up a half block--and banks don't pay sales tax.

Shiloh Church 49th Dorchester: Neighbors met Nov. 1, many fears calmed by downsized development proposal.

New Ronald McDonald House ground was broken in summer 2006.

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Point bombshells-then long new process

Visit the Point Latest and August Forward pages.

August 14, the Chicago Park District finally and reluctantly signed on to the review process described below. Until the last minute, they attempted to place many conditions while the other parties had not done so. The Task Force and Sen. Obama balked at the latest attempt and, with support from Ald. Hairston, successfully persuaded the Park District to sign on without conditions. The Corps sections under Horace Foxall will proceed to have as much review and engineering as possible ready for a review if federal funding (sole federal funding for such being rare) can be obtained, after which design would go to 35% and if the stakeholders all approve, presumably continue to completion and execution. Getting these parties to work together with good will and under a complicated process will be difficult. This phase of the long-raging Point controversy began when Sen. Obama and Rep. Jackson in effect federalized the project after a resounding rejection of latest compromise plans at a largely-attended public meeting in September, 2005.

An agreement on process has been worked out under the firm attention of Senator Obama whereby the Task Force and all the stakeholders will work first with Army Corp preservation expert Horace Foxall to examine the 5 sections of the Point with an eye to "as much preservation as possible" and agree on recommendations to be cost/feasibility reviewed by the Buffalo NY district of the Corps of Engineers. Two options for each section would be identified by the stakeholder groups then costed out and developed by the Army Corps for final decision that includes the community. The Corps, and finally the park district, agreed to guidelines set out by the Senator that include transparency, full participation of parties, and the paramount value of preservation under the Secretary of the Interior standards while recognizing need for the project to be feasible, last, and entail reasonable upkeep costs, and provide superior accessibility and access to the water's edge. The best promise in five years is at hand--if that funding is not beyond possibility. Watch for meetings, papers et al. But it will take years if anything is to be done on the Point. HPKCC sent the parties a letter endorsing the process and calling for open meetings.

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2005 Herald year-end snapshot gives some trends to think about--or are some of them just transitory blips?

The Herald's Top 10 newsworthy items were:

Violent crime surges. If it wasn't one kind it was another. Need we panic? No, they say, but violent crimes (the ones up especially) can undermine a neighborhood. "Talk of public safety must warrant the same kind of attention Hyde Parkers give to Promontory Point and other issues." This writer agrees.

Teens gone wild. What did the early 2005 surge mean? That little can be done to stop such episodes (especially since more of our school kids come great distances) and that we "teenagers, teetering on adulthood, need to be listened to, not patronized."

The campaign to preserve the Point mostly in place with the same or similar materials gained a last serious hearing and hope, thanks to Senator Obama and residents firmly saying "no" to bureaucracy. Savvy people power can still work. And Hyde Park still has disproportional muscle when well directed.

Harper Court may be sold, even demolished. This is sharp turn from the Urban Renewal "settlement" and local/independent retail ownership and, with other proposed developments, may mark a considerably faster rate of change and could effect our stable mixed income population and business climate. Some would say it's time to shake up they see as a stagnant, eroding retail base. See Harper Court Sale page. Short in Key Bits below.

Death of John H. Johnson. This author thinks right things Johnson stood for, including African American entrepreneurship, pride, and activism are still thriving on the South Side.

The Co-op. Will it survive the retrenchment?

Reviewing the Randel era. University involvement in communities, mostly in positive directions, dramatically increased and improved under Don Randel, leaving in mid 2006. This editor thinks the trends are well established and will strengthen further, but the University still has considerable distance to go on sensitivity. This author would couple with this section two subsections a) 2006 was the year University expansion became palpable and went into full gear, b) the ongoing rifts over race and more shown by the "straight-thuggin'" incident in 2005.

Leal's 53rd Cornell and other proposed developments, concern over affordability.

Theater is not coming back to Harper and 53rd. Instead it's continuance of the 53rd shop facade--only upscale and around onto Harper. See Harper RFP Guidelines. Nothing is moving until the Harper/Herald question is seen to be physically moving.

Checkerboard Lounge opens. It's being asked to carry multiple revitalization burdens by itself, even if a Kleiner restaurant opens next door. It's failure would weaken the neighborhood more than its success would make much difference, this author thinks. But impressions are that it's coming back.

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Key bits in Hyde Park-

The July 10 TIF Advisory Council meeting featured major parking recommendations, updates on Harper Court (but no draft RFP), nothing on Harper Theater, and annual TIF organizational business.

See pages with Report on the July 10 TIF meeting, Parking Recommendations, and Harper Court home.

Basically, the Committee made basic recommendations for better management of present parking through pricing and arrangements with Kenwood Academy and perhaps other off-street lots to handle monthly businesspeople and overflow demand and to work with the city toward a parking improvement district coterminous with the TIF to generate added revenues, with a share to fund community improvements--parking, streetscape and more.

When it becomes clear that new development is going to happen that may not be able to handle all parking and access needs internally, a study parking study or survey may be sought to finish the overall objective of a parking, mobility and access plan.

TIF changes include two new members- Laurel Stradford and Tony Wilkins. The Streetscape Committee was renamed Environment and Beautification and given a new mandate for business recruitment, streetscape, storefront renovations et al. Co-chairs are Andre Brumfield and Jane Comiskey. That committee will first meet (with the Parking Committee invited) August 23, 8 am at Mellow Yellow. Please contact the co-chairs if you wish to attend or join the committee.

Hyde Parker Jamie Kalven won part of his case against having to disclose his journalist notes working with CHA residents, as part of a separate lawsuit. However, the city appealed, saying that Kalven operated as an investigator rather than journalists and shared notes with one of the parties and not the city. When the city settle the base case, the suit against Kalven was necessarily vacated.

Ald. Hairston, Preckwinkle split on "big box" living wage ordinance vote. Passage if upheld having impact. Statements on opposite sides by the aldermen can be read in the September 20, 2006 Herald. Supporters say that following the failed vote o defeat the veto, they will draft a more broad ordinance and have a non-binding resolution on the February ballot (it's on in some wards). Alderman Preckwinkle (4th) voted "yes," citing the need to stop big corporations from bidding and holding wages down at levels precluding affordability and saying the big boxes will come around because there is a market here. Ald. Hairston says the people need jobs, development needs jumpstart from larger stores, and the big boxes cancel will just ring the city sucking out sales tax revenue and more: they cannot be brought around and the cycle of low wages broken at the municipal level. The ordinance passed 35-14. Mayor Daley is campaigning to peal way a couple of aldermen so he can exercise an unbreakable veto. Wallmart and Target have cancelled plans for stores in Chicago and the mid South Side, at least for now. The ordinance would require firms with stores over 90,000 square feet and doing over a billion dollars in business (which includes Marshall Field's) to pay a minimum of $9.25 now and $10 next year plus at least $3 in benefits.

Several letters criticized Ald. Hairston. Peter Cassel praised her, citing non uniformity, lack of rationale, unconstitutional-- targeting retailing and certain retailers, goes beyond home rule powers vis a vis the state especially. He also said the big boxes are the pioneers in redevelopment and bring entry level jobs and quality goods and lower prices. Nancy Stanek, on the other hand, says although the issue is genuinely difficult and a divider, she believes it's crucial to raise the bar to a decent living--and is doing so at her stores, hardship or not. She says that ultimately the big boxes like others will pay what the specific market demands, as in Barrington.

Roderick Sawyer Aug. 16 published a long critique of the Big Box ordinance, stressing that good wages are and should be a consequence of good education and good work experience--and we would be better to push corporations to put more resources into these, especially in deprived communities.

Kyle Preckwinkle excoriated Mark Allen's "Mayor's veto can't come fast enough." He says the young men with felony convictions (half of African-American young men, for example, wouldn't be hired by such employers as Wallmart and that $7 is grossly insufficient for the large number of people who live on the margin. He suggests instead of depending on big boxes to provide a handful of jobs that won't save people from going on the streets, the city work on having better schools, fewer racist cops, a workable drug policy, serious job training. And that, ordinance or no ordinance, businesses will come if they are greedy enough for our business.

Mayor Daley's veto statement read in part, "I return herewith, without my approval, an ordinance passed by the City Council on July 26, to add a new Chapter 4-404, entitled "Large retailers," to the Municipal Code of Chicago. I understand and share a desire to ensure that everyone who works in the City of Chicago earns as decent wage. But I do not believe that this ordinance, well intentioned as it may be, would achieve t hat end. Rather it would drive jobs and businesses away from our city, penalizing the neighborhoods that need additional economic activity the most. In light of this, I believe it is my duty to veto this ordinance."

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Parents note: at the end of June, City Council passed a new curfew law, effective immediately. Parents as well as children can be fined and arrested if kids are out on the street unaccompanied by an adult or on way to/from work or an adult supervised activity after 10:30 pm on weekdays, 11:30 on weekends. At least one squad car is being assigned per district. Top

Shop owners on 57th Street, led by Brad Jonas of Powell's Bookstore, 57th and Harper, want to make 57th two-way from Stony Island to Lake Park. At least some residents oppose. A city study has been asked by Ald. Hairston. The decision to make 57th one-way eastbound has been one of the most contentious leftovers from Urban Renewal. Some say the Artists Colony on the stretch died (deliberately?) when the street was made one way, with at least active consent of the University.

Now the University is backing the shopkeepers (being owner of several of the shops) and has its own reasons to improve access into the heart of south Hyde Park and University campus for students, staff, and visitors--indeed opening a gateway--and maybe encouraging museum visitors to come in. Bus routes also have to be circuitous because of the configuration, which requires going south to 59th or north to 55th to use 57th from the east. Residents, however, like the damping down of through traffic and difficult access to "their" prime parking spaces. Some years ago, when the Vision for Hyde Park Retail District recommended considering opening the street, there was difference of opinion between South East Chicago Commission and the University, the later favoring opening. In addition, the Museum a few years ago seemed to be in favor of keeping it closed (it this author remembers correctly) due to high traffic exiting its new garage. Jackson Park Advisory Council, heavily involved in decisions about the garage and associated close and larger circulation issues, did not take a position as we 57th west of Stony was expected to stay as was. However, this is not just a dispute between neighbors and varying interests but has larger implications for circulation, quality of life including security (an original reason)--and those opposed say the west end of the viaduct at Lake Park is blind; there are already many accidents. The City study will be watched with interest.

From the Herald article of July 19, 2006. By Erin Meyer.

Hyde Park residents and business owners want to open t 57th street viaduct to two-way traffic. In recent months an ad hoc group facilitated by the University of Chicago has been discussing the possibility of opening the portion of the street that flows between the Museum of Science and Industry and the neighborhood's 57th Street retail community.

The business community in particular stands to benefit from making Hyde Park more accessible to Lake Park Avenue and Lake Shore Drive commuters, Said Bradley Jonas, owner of Powell's Bookstore, 1501 E. 57th St.

"I am not expecting some kind of miracle in terms of more business in my pocket," Jonas said. "The question we are trying to answer is how we can allow people better access to Hyde Park." Group members envision the 57th Street viaduct as a gateway to Hyde Park. It is currently a passage by which drivers can only exit the community.

"We have been amazed how few people we get from the Museum of Science and Industry," Jonas said. "We are a block and a half from one of the area's largest tourist attractions and see almost no spillover."

The group, composed of local leaders, business owners and residents, tackles "quality of life" issues in the area around 57th Street. "Unless you now Hyde Park, you cannot get in, said Duel Richardson, director of neighborhood relations for t he university. Richardson facilitates the group's monthly meetings at Noodles etc., 1333 E 57th St.

Whenever major changes affecting traffic flow in the 5th Ward are suggested, Ald. Leslie Hairston's office requests the Chicago Department of Transportation to conduct an impact study. The city looks at school routes, traffic patterns, pedestrian routes and parking on on and around 57th Street.

A representative of Hairston's office was present at the group's June meeting. "This is potentially a large project," said Sue Purrington. "People have indicated that they were entertaining the notion of making a change, but an impact statement always comes first."

A CDOT study may take several months to complete. Depending on its findings, Richardson said he would be in favor of "making the minimum amount of infrastructure changes to conduct a trial either to alleviate the residents' fears or confirm their fears."

Increased traffic and compounded parking problems are the most common concerns raised by those who oppose the change. Some residents foresee drivers using 57th Street to travel from Lake Shore Drive to the Dan Ryan Expressway and crowd neighborhood streets.

"Some folks have been raising the issue of the 57th Street viaduct for many years as an impediment in and out of the community," Richardson said. Top

 

From the East Hyde Park Committee meeting of June 2006

21st District CAPS Sergeant Theresa Odum reported that police are still tracking down the perpetrators of the Leona's murder and are closing down "meth" factories at Dearborn Homes. Violent crimes were at their lowest on record for the first 5 months. All were welcome to a burglary seminar July 20.

Residents reported rising disregard of traffic violations. increasing accidents and congestion from the Dan Ryan reroute especially by the Museum, and problems with various stop and other signs (ex. 53rd and S. Hyde Park) as well as need to accelerate the building of reinforced "bus pads" at stops.

Public meetings will be held this summer on work to start along Lake Park-Metra and the viaducts. Thought is being given to ongoing upkeep of murals to be restored or kept and of good liners for other viaduct walls, suitable for art and directional signage.

Vehicle stickers will be sold at the 4th Ward Office (773 536-8103); 5th Ward Office (773 324-5555) July 13 11-6. They are late after July 15.

Flower baskets are being planted on 55th and 53rd. Top


The murder of the Leona's manager at closeup time has shocked the neighborhood

Little new information or progress was reported in following weeks as police continued to follow leads. Not enough description was available to issue composite sketches. No reward had yet been offered.

Some are commenting on business procedures--open rear doors? Lack of cameras including in the alleys out back? And struggling rather than complying with demand for money. And on the possibility of inside involvement since other employees were not harmed. The police are tracking leads--very diligently, but with little reported success so far.

Herald June 21, by Kathy Chaney. As of Monday, the Chicago Police Department continued its search for three suspects in a robbery June 15 at Leona's restaurant, 1236 E. 53rd St. that ended in th murder of Corey Ebenezer. Leona's manager, Ebenezer, 26, was tallying the days' money and register receipts when three men entered an unlocked rear door of the restaurant and demanded money, police said.

A brief struggle ensued before shots were fired. The suspects ran out of the rear door into an alley with an undisclosed amount of money. Money was also found lying next to Ebenezer's body. Other employees who were cleaning up at the time of the incident were not injured. Current and former employees of Leona's said it was normal practice for the rear door to be unlocked beyond closing hours.

Leona's, which shares the alley with other businesses located in Kimbark Plaza, does not have surveillance cameras. While there are no visible cameras in the alley of Kimbark Plaza, police are looking into whether any cameras at those businesses captured the suspects fleeing.

Kimbark Plaza, managed by Aegis Properties, employees security guards for the mall daily between 10 a.m. and 12. a.m. Security personnel were off duty by the time of the robbery. "We are in the process of doing many improvements," Tim Allwardt (sp?), president of Aegis, told the Herald on Monday. Aegis took over management of the plaza about a month ago and was not aware of any security concerns prior to the murder [including robberies at Chase Bank and Wok and Roll?!] "I will bring the concerns up to the Kimbark Plaza board," he said. The Parker-Holsman Company managed Kimbark Pizza before Aegis took over [and] could not be reached for comment...

"This is a prominent neighborhood and I've worked her for 10 years and never saw any surveillance cameras. I just don't understand it," said an employee in the strip mall who wished not to be named. Hyde Parker Sheila Clay said, "They need to install cameras behind the businesses to keep the people safe. Installing them is now that experience."

Ebenezer, a Bronzeville resident and father, worked for the company for nearly eight years, working in their Beverly and suburban Hillside locations before coming to Hyde Park. "He was a good man and a good father. We just had a baby...

Area One detective are looking for one black man 26 to 28 years old, about six-feet tall and approximately 200 pounds with a stocky build, wearing a red shirt, medium-brown complexion an black hair worn in braids; and one clean shaven, thin black man 20 to 25 years old, about six-feet tall with a medium-brown complexion. No description of the third suspect is available.

Police are also looking for a suspect who sexually assaulted a woman at 5400 Greenwood- 27-3, African American, 6 foot, braided hair, 200 pounds. Also for the group of youths who assaulted a Lab School student July 5 on Kenwood Avenue between 56th and 57th. Top

Jackson Park esp. Wooded Island crimes escalate, including a murder/hate crime.

Hyde Park birder Caroline Herzenberg says Jackson Park needs police protection in Herald letter July 26, 2006

After the recent murder in Jackson Park, I believe that Hyde Parkers deserve more of a police presence in the nearby parks that we frequent, particularly Jackson Park.

Many Hyde Parkers may be unaware of the fact that a local resident, one of our neighbors, was brutally beaten and killed on Wooded Island in Jackson Park on July 10.

This was a hate crime. According to several individuals who said they were not at the scene of the crime but saw the group of men who perpetrated the murder leave from hate parking lot south of Wooded Island, the killers bragged about beating up a "faggot" as they departed.

Although we visit Wooded Island about twice a week, we have not seen a police patrol there for several months. More police patrols are needed on Wooded Island, and throughout Jackson Park.

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The city has changed the protocol on swimming bans at beaches. You will have to watch for flags changing from green to yellow to red. There will now be closures only if the indicator bacteria goes above 1,000 parts per million, not the current 235 from federal guidelines- although after one day of high tests, not the former two days.. Will we be able to compare year to year? It will be difficult. Those who have consulted with experts over the years are alarmed that this has the potential for a serious threat to public health and safety---235 already is the point at which several in 1000 may get sick. Chicago (and other Cook County municipalities?) and Wisconsin are the only Great Lakes entities that have made the change. The city also has stopped using the quick-result test but will have new covered garbage cans. Details in Beach swim bans page. EPA will give a report at the February 12, 2907 Jackson Park Advisory Council meeting 7:30 pm at 6401 S. stony Island.

City pulls lifeguards; no more kids programming

First, many ask about the dearth of kids programming and movement of programs to Jackson and other parks and lack of a supervisor or staff person at the facility. The latter takes on more significance with the permanent pulling of lifeguards. Someone should be watching this store other than police or landscaping/cleanup crew.

Park District officers such as Alonzo Williams cite several factors as accounting for the dearth of staff and programs based in the famed Castle on Promontory Point. It isn't well suited in size and lacks special facilities such as a gym, shops, size for programs. The lower level cannot be made accessible and would be too small anyway. It is distant from roads, with no parking. The Castle is a special events facility--i.e. weddings and other rentals--such special events and programming would clash. Scarce resources are better spent creating a variety of large, synergistic programs at a few parks, especially when a major field house such as Jackson's is within a few blocks. Finally, the penultimate decision was made when reconstruction of the Point was thought about to start.

Removal of the lifeguards:

This is certainly a cost-saving message--is it retaliation--probably not. And Commander Lodding (21st District) told this writer he is not aware of any plans to patrol and ticket the Point. Also, there seems to be tacit agreement in the developing detente on the Point that swimming, called something else, will remain--still, it is touchy, especially since unattended swimming and diving is not sanctioned--in part because it really is potentially risky, and so is a liability problem. Still, the removal of lifeguards from a place that hosts heavy deep-water swimming--and has for decades, sanctioned or not--will be considered both ill advised and suspect, especially since a yellow flag flying at 57th Beach will now be the only warning of high bacterial count between the old standard for swim bans of 235 and the new standard of 1000 coliforming units per million. (Note, however, that this page is told that due to wave action there is seldom a high count around the Point.)

Hyde Park Herald, June 14, 2006. City pulled its lifeguards from Point, may ticket swimmers. By Tedd Carrison.

The Chicago Park District has pulled its lifeguards from Promontory Point this year and threats of arrests and fines are looming for those who continue to swim off the rocks. Point swimmer Jane Stone said a lifeguard approached her at the peninsular park last month and told her that the park district will not longer monitor the Point and police may start ticketing amphibious park users.

The park district has never formally sanctioned swimming at the Point and Stone said swimmers have "capriciously" been arrested and fined in the past. She said arrests seem to increase in the fall and she was unsure if the new no-lifeguard policy would prompt more police patrols.

The Point has been embattled in a fight between the park district and a group of Hyde Park residents over how to repair the aging limestone revetment that meets the water. Recently, the Community Task Force for Promontory Point garnered the support of U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2) and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama in its preservation efforts. In tandem, both politicians could restrict federal funding to the project if preservation guidelines are not adhered to.

According to Stone, some Point swimmers have speculated that the permanent lifeguard cuts could be a tacit message from the park district to Point preservationists. Chicago Park District spokeswoman Michele Jones said the decision to stop guarding the Point was an economic one. "It's not a sanctioned swimming area and we need to make sure that all of our sanctioned swimming areas are fully staffed with lifeguards, so we are no longer staffing non-sanctioned areas," said Jones.

Task force spokesman and avid Point swimmer Greg Lane said his group has not discussed the lifeguard issue and any possible implications. "I think it is pretty prudent for the park district to put lifeguards there because Hyde Parkers always have and always will swim at Promontory Point," said Lane.
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The Osco at Dorchester and 53rd closed July 6

as the drug and convenience store business consolidates, Giant CVS, which fortunately chose to build a good-sized new store here a couple years back, has swallowed all the free standing OSCO's. There were questions when CVS came whether three large stores could last in the neighborhood, especially with two so close. Prescriptions are being transferred to the CVS. Meanwhile, another vacancy to fill. See Business Climate. Top

Neighbors have been critiquing parks

Michael Hoke, along with Diane Weinstein and members of South Side Parent, have said we are at the bottom of the totem pole vs the north side, with far fewer programs and service, and that the Park District gets good mileage out of press releases but fails to fund or carry out the projects it announces. This page believes several of the specific points are out of context and some in error, but that much is well taken; and the district needs to both hear specifics and know that people are watching and commenting to their neighbors.

By Michel W. Hoke. As to hydepark.org and Hyde Park Herald June 7, 2006

During the past years the Chicago Park District has issued press releases proclaiming that they were going to improve Jackson Park adm Harold Washington Park in the following areas.

In early 2003 a press release was issued that the statue "Germania" which had been displayed at the Columbian Exposition of 1893, had been recovered during the Lake Shore Drive project. They announced that tech statute [sic] would be preserved and displayed in the Iowa Building located at 56th and Lake Shore Drive.

In May 2003 the Chicago Park District announced that a Children's Play Garden would be constructed in the meadow located west of Stony Island Avenue between the east- and west-bound lanes of Midway Plaisance.

In June 2005 it was announced that a sculpture donated by Virginio Ferrari was to be erected in the boat basin of Harold Washington Park.

It is now June 206 an none of these projects have moved farther than the press release. The Iowa Building['s] only purpose appears to be [as] a refuge for homeless persons. The model boat basin has not been filled with water because of leakage problems.

It appears that the Chicago Park District can expend funds for Grant Park, Lincoln Park, Millennium Park and the purchase of Thillens Stadium but the South Side o Chicago is at the bottom of the totem pole. Oops the totem pole is in Lincoln Park and is well maintained.

I suggest that if the Chicago Park District is short of funds then they can terminate the services of the individuals that prepare and issue these press releases.

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By Sharonjoy A. Jackson, Lakefront Task Force. As to hydepark.org and in the Hyde Park Herald June 14, 2006

Have our parks fallen off the map?

The Lakefront Task Force for Hyde Park could not agree more with the recent letter by Mr. Michael Hoke (Herald, June 7), which was very well put. It is as though Hyde Park/Kenwood has fallen "off the map" as far as the Chicago Park District is concerned.

The Lakefront Task Force for Hyde Park began last summer as a rather informal group of concerned community members who were discouraged when the state disregarded Promontory Point and other adjacent areas. Though concerned with maintenance of the Point, our officers, executive committee members and genera members are further concerned about park district property (buildings, land and so on) west of the actual lakefront itself.

Graffiti, homeless habitation of the Iowa Building, drug related incidents, poor maintenance of neighborhood playgrounds and play lots (and their equipment), timely garbage disposal (street and parks), frequent cleaning of gutters and drains to prevent excessive street flooding, sidewalk repairs and the excessive speed--and the lack of consideration--of bicycle riders are just a few of our concerns to improve or eradicate as the case may be.

We have offered testimony a public hearings and have liaison with community-based organizations whose officers have been extremely supportive and helpful. We will continue these efforts.

After submitting a rather lengthy letter to the Herald...last summer bemoaning the lack of services and conditions many residents found quite depressing, I was contacted by Alonzo Williams, Chicago Park District's south lakefront supervisor. His timely support to address our concerns continue up to the present, and we remain delighted.

The Lakefront Task Force for Hyde Park has made progress. Significant projects however remain and they are not being taken care of by anyone. So the question remains: What do we do now?

Years ago a successful lawsuit was filed based on the inequity of park funding, maintenance and improvements. Is this, should this, be deja vu all over again?


[This group continues to push on sidewalk conditions along 56th St. and the Iowa building in that area.]

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Another set of letters has urged that Dyett Pool be kept open- it matters to many including in this area, and travel to alternatives is through dangerous gang territories. Note- Dyett is a shared facility, mainly under control of the Schools. This letter raises other issues of upkeep and disparity.

By Dina Weinstein, to hydepark.org and Herald May 31, 2006

The South Side Parents group discussed the future of the Chicago Park District's Dyett indoor pool. It was first thought that it would close in May. That raised a lot of bells for me because the use of this pool was central in fending off cabin fever and pent up energy for my two preschool age boys this winter.

Many of our friends on the South Side joined us for fun afternoons learning to swim. I am grateful to the wonderful staff... at times there were dozens of high school students exercising, learning CPR or playing, while younger children were learning to swim. Other weeks children celebrated their birthdays with friends.

I learned on Friday's swim that it will "close for the summer" on June 14. So indoor swimming continues until then. Children's open swim is chandelled for 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The outdoor, Olympic sized, zero-depth pool with waterslide at Washington Park opens Memorial Day Weekend. Whether Dyett will oven in the fall is still a question.

There was talk a Dyett about Harris Park at 62nd Street and Drexel Avenue (a [former] YWCA) being used as a park district facility with pool. It is listed on the website but there's nothing for preschoolers.

Please do contact the Chicago Park District about keeping open the Dyett pool and to increase available services in this region.

The Dyett pool situation is urgent, so please contact the main office of the park district at 312 742-PLAY to lodge your complaint. We discussed creating a letter writing campaign to the park district, area alderm[e]n and others to protest the disparity in park district services between the north and south sides of the city.

For those who doubt this, compare the available listings and costs of programming at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center. Also, for those of you who use Bixler Playlot on East 57th Street and see repairs that need attending to, such as the missing bolt for the gate now replaced by a bungee cord, please bug the park district. Apparently, the staff at the Midway is responsible.

Article in Herald June 14, 2006- Hyde Parkers plead with park district to keep [Dyett] pool open. by Erin Meyer

Local parents met with the Dyett Recreation Center Advisory Council hoping to prevent the Chicago Park District from closing the neighborhood pool. "We have made the recreation center into a safe place where we can all come as a community," said Hyde Parker Vinston Glover, president of the council.

The recreation center, 513 E. 1st Street., serves Dyett Academic Center students during the school year. But in summer the center's pool, basketball court and gym have been utilitized by the surrounding community. Children participate in park district programs including swimming and dance lessons as ell as a gymnastics program.

According to park district officials, the pool is scheduled to close for the summer. "The park district is just placating us," said council member Bobby Townsend. For more than 10 years the advisory council has been a driving force behind summer programming. "The volunteers have worked tirelessly," said Glover. "This area used to have all the gang problems and now it's a family-friendly environment."

With the Chicago Board of Education operating the building a part of Dyett school and the park district in charge of programs for the community, it is difficult to determine who is responsible for what at the center, according to council members. "There has always been a lot of finger pointing over the years when the advisory council has gone to the board or the park district with problems," Glover said. That same finger pointing is what may lead to the closure of the pool, according to members.

But a park district official said the recreation center usually closes during the summer because other facilities offer swimming. Spokesperson Lydia Hall listed Washington Park's water park, 5531 S. King Dr., Harris Recreation Center, 6220 S. Drexel Blvd. and National Teachers Academy, 55 W. Cermak Rd.

Still the advisory council maintains the community needs the center to remain open. "We have turned the neighborhood around," Glover said. While Glover describes the surrounding area as being much more dangerous in years past, safety is still a major concern for Dyett Principal Jacquelyn Lemon." Some security issues need to be addressed before the pool can be opened," she said at the meeting.

Lemon said last summer vandals broke into the facility by kicking in the glass panels that surround the pool. "My greatest fear was that a kid would be floating in that pool one morning," Lemon said.

One of the center's most popular programs is gymnastics. "It is a shame that I have to travel all over the city for the same programs we had here in 1997," said advisory council member and Hyde Park mother of four La Tanya Gray...

 

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Local incumbents won by heavy margins in November- 85 to 93 percent and more. Aldermen Preckwinkle and Hairston will have challengers in February, but these have so far not emerged as significant- stay tuned.

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The Hyde Park Neighborhood Club selected and installed Peter Cassel as its new executive director. Cassel studied at U of C's graduate school of business and has been active in social and parks causes.

Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce selected Hyde Parker Lenora Austin as Executive Director. Ms. Austin was introduced at the June 6 Business to Business. Her first task will be to walk the neighborhood and learn the goals and needs of the businesspersons, including what's been changing and why, and how we can have a well-rounded community, she told the Herald. Her background, 30 years with CPS as teacher, administrator and principal, involved continual interaction with businesses and other community residents and leaders. She has been a member or active in Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Blue Gargoyle board, and little league and pony league. Chamber President James Poueymirou told the Herald, "She understands that her primary role is to actively involved in our membership. She is suited to that task" and brings a broad wealth of experience an maturity that will allow the chamber to expand.

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Montgomery Place nears start of expansion in time for 15th year celebration. The 3-level, 3,600 addition on the south side and courtyard will have a cafe-style reading room, heated indoor pool and conservatory in conjunction with an indoor greenhouse. New Catered Living on the 4th floor will provide services between independent living (which houses the majority of residents in apartments) and full assisted living and nursing in the Health Care Pavilion. Work can be financed when enough residents have signed up for the Independent Living Program. Montgomery Place sent a letter to the Herald explaining options---see it in the Affordable Housing 1 page.

The Hyde Park Art Center was dedicated by luminaries and officials led by Mayor Daley on April 22. It was called a true cooperation of community, organizations, government and a major university. The gala 36 hour opening April 29 through April 30 drew over 5000. Many happenings and exhibits since. See in Cultural Calendar. More in Arts News. Top

Howard W. Lodding on April 26 replaced Adrienne Stanley as Commander of the 21st District. Stanley has moved to Auditing and Internal Control. Lodding has recently led rollout of video trucks and the blue-light surveillance cameras. He said, "I find people in the District very engaged in the community and.. a good resource for the police." There is also a new commander of the 3rd District.

The World Garden at Kenwood Community Park, started by Common Threads and the park, experienced repeated vandalism and theft to the garden and minimal fence in 2006. (Common Threads was started by Al Smith, Oprah's chef, and includes a project to teach kids from across the South Side the whole process of food production. The Kenwood Improvement Association at its meeting heard from the project's director Linda Novick and asked action. Rudy Nimocks, director of The University of Chicago Police, made arrangements for nighttime UCP and 21st District patrols to make sure the garden stays. They also have been working with the park district to get a sturdy, if temporary, fence.

The cameras went in along Drexel Blvd. at about 48th and 54th, followed by one outside Kenwood Academy. (They have to be paid out of aldermanic menus.) And the university is putting up 5 additional security phones along 47th and in west Hyde Park.

Bar Louis, in the Flamingo in the 5500 block of South Shore Drive, has won the blessing of Alderman Hairston and many, but not all, local residents at an April 26 2006 local hearing, to build an outdoor patio south of the swimming pool. It would close at 10 am and not have music or be a "party cove". There will be valet parking. Some residents noted this is a congested area with lots of noise and police activity. In 2002 there was strong resistance to a zoning change for incoming Bar Louis that would have permitted the patio. Parking and security will be further studied. Plans are on view at the bar but have been approved. Top

Longtime State Representative Lou Jones died in early May 2006; Elga Jeffries is her replacement and was subsequently elected (see article above) .
Senator Kwame Raoul and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie announced significant gains in funds for schools and preschool funds,
although these were not all they wished. Raoul also pointed to help for kid's insurance including for those with AIDS, better services and hope to juvenile offenders, transitional help and training for ex-offenders, and DNA testing for all involved in child murder cases.

The University of Chicago Board of Trustees on March 10 2006 named Robert J. Zimmer its 13th president, replacing Don Michael Randel, who is leaving to head the Mellon Foundation. With Zimmer the University returns to a former pattern of appointing familiar old hands, but with a difference. Zimmer grew up, was educated, and began his career elsewhere, then served as a distinguished mathematician on the Chicago faculty 1977-91 then as a UC administrator, and went to Brown University (serving as Provost) in 2002. During the latter part of his administrative service, he played a major role in reinvigorating Argonne National Laboratory as director and its ties with the U of C and UC stewardship over the Lab as vice president for Argonne and scientific affairs. The latter may have played an important, or at least welcoming role in Zimmer's appointment at a time when the University seeks to retain and strengthen its management of Argonne, is still being cited rightly or wrongly for handling of materials in the 1990s, and is heavily fundraising for facilities and programs in the sciences. (Those recently unhappy at heavy donations and reinvigoration of science facilities while those of the arts seem to lag may be reassured by statements by Zimmer.)

Maybe some of the latter will be reassured by Zimmer's statement, quoted in the Tribune, "The University of Chicago has always been distinctive because of its singular commitment to inquiry on important scientific, cultural and societal issues, and a belief that education in that context prepares students to make extraordinary contributions in whatever path they pursue. I am honored to have this opportunity to work with the entire university community." Community activists and organizations in Hyde Park and its neighbors will certainly be pleased with this.

From the University's Press Office March 9 2006:

Robert J. Zimmer nominated to serve as President of the University of Chicago

The Presidential Search Committee is recommending to the Board of Trustees that Robert J. Zimmer, currently Provost of Brown University, be elected the 13th President of the University of Chicago.

Upon approval of the nomination expected at a special meeting of the Board on Friday, March 10, Zimmer will assume office on July 1, 2006. He will succeed Don Michael Randel, who has served as President of the University since 2000. Randel will become President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation this summer.

Zimmer is a mathematician who was a faculty member at the University of Chicago for more than two decades before leaving in 2002 to become Brown’s Provost. While at Chicago, Zimmer served in a number of administrative roles, including Deputy Provost and, beginning in 2001, as Vice President for Research and for Argonne National Laboratory. While Vice President, Zimmer helped usher in an era of greater collaboration between scientists at the University and Argonne National Laboratory, which the University has operated for the U.S. Department of Energy since the laboratory’s inception in 1946.

Further details will be announced at a press conference at 10:45 am CST tomorrow, and will be covered on the University of Chicago Magazine’s blog, http://uchiblogo.uchicago.edu at 3:00 pm CST. For more information, photos, and links to stories in the press, please visit the University’s home page (http://www.uchicago.edu).

Ronald J. Schiller
Vice President, Development and Alumni Relations

From the Tribune March 5 2006. By Jodi S. Cohen

U. of C. greets new leader. President-elect vows to be good neighbor, keep school strong

The University of Chicago's next president said he will work to make the campus more accessible to low-income students, continue to improve relationships with the surrounding communities and ensure the university is at the forefront of biomedical and other research.

After a seven-month search, the university's board of trustees on Friday unanimously elected mathematician and former longtime Chicago faculty member Robert Zimmer as the university's 13th president. Zimmer, provost at Brown University in Providence, R.I., for the last four years, will begin [his term] July 1. His salary has not yet been set, said spokesman Larry Arbeiter, but outgoing President Don Michael Randel received about $560,000 annually.

Zimmer, 58, who was chosen from about 15 candidates interviewed, said his top priority will be staying true to the academic rigor and serious study that defines the university. Yet, he said, he also will try to improve student life at a campus not known for fun.

He said his leadership style will be "open, engaged, transparent and one of ideas." On his first day as president-elect, he lunched with administrators, attended a reception with faculty members and went to a pizza party with students.

"The University of Chicago is built around the importance of ideas, and I want this administration to reflect that central, enduring value of the university," Zimmer said. The challenge, he said, will be continuing that goal as the university strives to be a leader in the evolving fields of biology, information technology, materials science and other areas.

Zimmer also stressed his desire for the university to maintain management of Argonne National Laboratory, a relationship that the government has put in question for the first time in 60 years.

Students said they hope Zimmer is as warm to them as Randel, who had brown bag lunches with undergraduates and frequently attended their plays and concerts.

 

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Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th) continues to warn the public and complain to the departments of transportation when Ryan lanes are closed. The preparations such as signal coordination have not been made on the east-side arterials such as Stony Island, Cornell Drive and Lake Shore Drive. She points to $14 million in signal coordination on Ashland west of the Ryan vs a deaf ear to requests here and a bare $1.5 here. IDOT now says it's too late and they may look after the Ryan project. Hairston seeks more meetings, has a petition circulating.

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference hosted on October 25 2006 a Public Discussion on the future of the Hyde Park Co-op. This followed their collaboration in the September 2006 kickoff forum of the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force. And last spring's forums on the future of Harper Court.

The Blue Gargoyle, a key social agency on the South Side based in Hyde Park, in February 2006 launched a 3-year $575,000 fund drive, in light of uncertainties of governmental funding. The near-loss of city funding ($400,000) of the Gargoyle employment agency that serves Oakland-Bronzeville and South Shore and other residents (a stoppage blocked by Ald. Hairston and Preckwinkle and state legislators including Barbara Flynn Currie) was a wake-up call that showed the Gargoyle it needed to go far beyond gala banquets and general and foundation appeals.

The Gargoyle, whose annual budget is $2.3 million (90 percent from government) is a critical, special niche part of the South Side safety net (especially with dispersal and changed rules for former CHA residents), providing services that range from employment/employability training to literacy, family training, and a top-rated alternative high school in Bronzeville. Over 12,000 a year are served by 35-year-old Blue Gargoyle, which started as a student and community coffee house in University Church. A peculiar problem for agencies such as the Gargoyle is that a red flag is raised with the government whenever money has to go to "administrative" costs--and these kinds of services cannot be provided right on the cheap. The Gargoyle needs its 53 part and full time staffers.

Ald. Hairston says, "The Blue Gargoyle has always provided a very valuable service. It is important the community support their work.
Ald. Preckwinkle, whose husband Zeus is on the Gargoyle board and helping diversify the revenue stream as well as leading the annual fall "Gargoyle Gallop," says "The Blue Gargoyle is doing something that other organizations are not offering. They have a special niche."

More about the Gargoyle in News from Collaborers in the Community page. To learn more or make a donation call 773 955-4108 or visit www.bluegargoyle.org.

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I-GO Carshare now has four locations in Hyde Park. More about I-GO.

The ambitious Lake Park Streetscape and Viaducts multi-phase project is edging close to significant starts. Already it hit snafus by whiting the wrong viaduct murals. See Metra Viaducts and Embankments and Lake Park Corridor rehabilitation and redesign homepage.

3 neighbors meetings have been held on historic districting and how this might be applied in south Hyde Park (east of the University). Detailed questions were asked and answered by Brian Goeken of the Landmarks Commission. Almost all supported a district in their evaluations, none were opposed Next is a larger meeting and formal request. See Landmark District. Top

Wider news with impact on the neighborhood is that City Council finally passed a compromise public place smoking ban with phase-in to let establishments install carcinogen-removing devices. (Yes, it will also apply strictly on the U of C campus and Jimmy's.)
Also, the Payday Loan Act of 2005 kicked in, limiting loans to $15,500 and two to a customer, with a clearing database.

Does the City have an emergency plan for neighborhoods? Well, yes, sort of, but its nuances and details for neighborhoods are not yet fully worked out.

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CTA still provides no easy access place to buy cards in Hyde Park. Details in Transit News, CTA, FareHike05 pages. CTA and the U of C have continued to expand while tweaking services. CTA says its capital backlog is $8 million. The big news here, again, is its expansion of service in conjunction with and subsidized heavily by the University of Chicago- and no fare hike this year. (There have been continuing complaints about the revised UC/CTA service.)

Crime. Two believed responsible for the "spree of 16" horrific muggings and the carjackers were captured, as one example, but brazen muggings (fewer in 2006) - and certainly burglaries. Also captured through brilliant inter police coordination, were two separate groups of carjackers/ kidnappers. On the other hand, embarrassing and shameful mistakes continue to be made, such as arrests of black youths whose only connection with a crime is wearing same or similar clothes.
After continued request, one part of the West Hyde Park crime and gang upsurge area was designated a "loitering hot spot." Cameras were installed at two locations on Drexel as well as outside Kenwood Academy. According to Ald. Preckwinkle, they have helped; others have said the cameras just push crime along- and threaten civil liberties (They will now be used to record license plates for scan for warrants.)
Police are authorized under Chicago's (revised) Gang Loitering Ordinance to stop suspected gang loiterers in designated areas to move on or risk arrest. In conjunction with the designation in October 2005, both city and UC police have increased patrols and set up "seatbelt checkpoints" as a show of force, according to Cpt. Nathan Hamilton of the 21st District as reported by the Herald. Some call for foot patrols. It was also noted by the police that most of the activity in that area comes from persons living outside the area.
Two more captures: the man who forced his way into apartments to "use the phone" and tied up and robbed, and the female U of C Hospitals Security officer who pipewhacked and stole from 3 UC students in an alley.

Details in Crimes/robberies Spike page. Top

Race relations issues were raised by a "thugging-ghetto" themed sorority party by UC students and by a police shooting of a previously convicted drug dealer by 47th Street and several instances of racial profiling of students and Hyde Parkers--both ways. Feelings are still raw. A University-wide meeting was held at Hutch November 2005- Reports are in University and Community (also in Quality of Neighborhood).

Hyde Parkers continued to step up to the plate on helping, including the food pantries, which are suffering as crisis of less food and funds while the numbers needing help go up dramatically. Hyde Park Union Church has undertaken the task of financial reorganization of the pantry form the Interfaith Council. That church helps St. Martin De Pores shelter and Jackson Park Hospital also. See Good Neighbor page and Helpline and Community Resources for what help is available.

Locals have teamed up with a campus group, StandUp for Progress to advocate for a universal health care plan and for a strong comprehensive plan from Governor Blagojevich. On October 5, 2005 the group presented at the first district hearing on the latter, the Adequate Health Care Task Force at Trinity Church on 95th St. They have many supporters from hospitals who say we are letting too many get seriously ill, when their treatment becomes highly expensive.
The University has joined two activist initiatives: Clean Air Counts (as has Nichols Park Advisory Council) and the Workers Rights Consortium (which enforces a code of conduct on vendor suppliers to the University). Jackson Park Advisory Council has joined a new Lake Michigan Watershed Ecosystem Partnership. Top

 

Development news

See Harper Court controversy homepage. There is much resentment over this matter.

Fernando Leal presented concepts for a large development at 53rd and Cornell to the 53rd TIF Advisory Council public meetings (next in January 2006. Ald. Preckwinkle had sent the grown-to-17-stories development (with only 7% affordable units) back to the drawing board--she's promoting 15% in City Council. The project morphed more before and after its approval by the TIF in November 2005; it has demolition permits and should start spring 2007.

Re: Leal's possible mid-rise at the Vivekenanda Vedanta Society property, 5400 block of S. Hyde Park Blvd. It was removed from the table after down zoning. Mr. Leal cancelled his option. The Temple then asked Ald. Hairston to restore the old zoning, as they need it to find a developer and need the high rise to finance a new temple in Lisle. The Alderman told them to first find a developer with a plan, then the matter will be brought to a public meeting.

Two major purchases on 53rd (central and east) for new or rehab mixed development inexorably added to change in change retail and housing mix--some see it as the big squeeze-out of anyone or thing not upscale. One brought another bank branch in place of 6 locally, minority-owned businesses. And now still another moved in just down the street on 53rd, although it (Bank of America) has listened well to community concerns. The other big development is a 17 story one at 53rd and Cornell, condo with to be upscale retail at the ground level. See Business Climate. We hear nothing yet for the Mobil-old McDonald's site at 53rd and Kenwood, also bought by Leal.

The Shiloh development (49th Dorchester) has been downsized with ample parking inside and the facade off limits, calming many though not all resident complaints.

Neighbors seemed pleased with design for Ronald McDonald House and care with parking et al on Drexel n. of 55th and hoped it will help with security issues in the area. UC Hospitals seems to have learned from objections to the sudden demolition on the block. Construction is underway with a 12 month completion date.

Meanwhile, Doctors Hospital was bought by U of C, likely to be a hotel and conference center and some more. How much will be saved? See Doctors Hospital page.

Harper Theater. Decision made- see Harper Theater RFP.

The University of Chicago presented the preliminary drawings for the new dorm and commons on Ellis to a community meeting for comment - construction is now underway. See the South Campus page. Meanwhile, construction is underway for the Center for Biomedical Discovery north of 57th St. and proceeding on the 57-58 block west of Drexel.

Quad Cities did a full-scale commercial properties and uses survey of every commercial street from 35th to 55th. See results (not so hot) in Business Climate.

Bruce Clinton sold Regent's Park to a condo developer. By agreement conversion cannot start for two years and will be staged--will it, with a growing number of announced or expected high developments and condo conversions, tip a balance, or is it just normal evolution in the mostly-condo/coop Indian Village Triangle east of the tracks and north of 53rd? Development directions and affordability will be long term issues in the community. Latest- it will indefinitely stay rental. The Algonquin Apartments complex north of 51st east of Metra will also stay rental under new owner Antheus/MAC.

MAC has also proposed a 25 story condo building at 56th and Cornell- see in Development.

A recent Supreme Court decision over eminent domain has a Hyde Park connection in that Urban Renewal saw extensive use of the principle, later curbed by Congress for such use. Now it's back via a Supreme Court ruling allowing taking for community development uses even though they mainly help developers. This decision could also affect preservation. Many states are enacting legislation to restore balance, particularly to prevent TIFs from mainly benefiting developers. And Congress is passing legislation cutting funds to states that allow eminent domain that is for benefit of commercial developers. Danielle Allen in Talking to Strangers proposes the U of C and Hyde Parkers take a lead in scaling back the particularly extreme Illinois eminent domain laws.

 

 

Looking for the big picture on the neighborhood?

Visit Tracking Community Trends pages for in depth discussions. Visit also Urban Renewal and the UR/neighborhood redevelopment Timeline and the topic resource pages linked in Home or in Neighborhood navigator.

View a Chicago Tribune
neighborhood profile of Hyde Park-
what resonates or doesn't, what's missing? Alternatives?: Development and Policy , Zoning Reform pages, TIF News pages, Ending Homeless.

Attend Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference forums and now classes! on such topics as public transportation, community development, zoning reform, town and gown relations, parks issues, condos+ governance issues. Gardening lectures.
To what the Conference is doing.

 

Infrastructure and city services watch

Residents on Harper south of 57th complained of blocked or broken sewers; the problem has been ongoing. This winter will tell if it has been corrected. To report standing water: 312 744-7038 or 311 and call the alderman's office.

For 2006, Ald. Hairston is seeking several signal light upgrades including at Stony Island-Midway Plaisance. 55th and Lake Park will get audible count signals in response to the new Disabilities Task Force.

A traffic survey is being done of the Lake Park-56th-Stony I. nexus. Also on whether 57th should become two-way between Stony Island and Lake Park.

Ald. Hairston is still seeking to get a business SSA going that would pay for cleanup and enhancements, including for Stony Island north to 56th St.

Ald. Preckwinkle and the TIF Streetscape Committee reported that much work on Lake Park and the 53rd and 55th viaducts will be funded.

A continuing complaint is about the sidewalk along the north edge of Jackson Park, 56th .

The 53rd TIF Parking Committee has proposed a parking and neighborhood improvement district. See complete recommendations page.

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City Hall Watch

See also City Budget page.

In October 2005 Ald. Preckwinkle documented in the Herald a case in Building Administrative hearing and circuit court that endangered both justice and preservation. The departments and city legal department apparently don't care about whether laws and codes are complied with collecting fines--they dog expensive homes with citations of supposed violations over and over to collect fines. She said, "If the owners of older buildings are going to be asked for additional payments reflecting the additional burden of maintenance on older homes, preservation efforts are in trouble. ...if the goal is collecting money, challenging buildings with difficult owners will be ignored." The alderman will in turn dog the departments during budget hearings. She asks that any with similar experiences contact her office at 773 536-8103.

The 2006 budget of $5.2 billion, up 2% over the last still had a $94 million shortfall in the $2.95 corporate fund that was eventually closed. Wage increases accounted for the shortfall. Still, the budget includes $125m in cuts over last year's plus gets some help from economic growth. The city negotiated concessions in health care benefits and work rules with unions. July 28, the Mayor ordered a 3% cut for the remainder of the year in every department except fire and police. Much is in hiring freeze or slowdown.

Mayor Daley made his budget address November 2006. No property tax hike. The budget passed this year unanimously. Ald. Preckwinkle, who voted "no" last year, criticized the city, especially on its minority record and corruption

The Shakman Decree challenge by the city was remanded to local court for reconsideration. The City and mandated overseer have claimed much progress and training.

Ald. Hairston is supporting an ordinance to stop owing slumlords from doing business with the city/collecting rents from the city and CHA while their code violations are not corrected.

Ordinances to strengthen control over and increase fines for nuisance buildings passed in November 2005. Up to $1,000 a day for owners and their lenders alike. However, the city has cases heard in administrative hearings, which is problematic constitutionally and led to an objection by Ald. Hairston and an interesting ad hoc coalition from wards around the city--portents of a post-Daley landscape?. Realtors are certain to challenge the ordinance on these and other grounds. Ald. Hairston says the city's has unconstitutional provisions of confiscation and administrative power while failing to address landlords getting city money despite repeated and unaddressed violations.

What is the definition of a slum nuisance? a building that is vacant and open after an "order to secure," has an "imminently dangerous" and hazardous code violation, or needs repairs that cost more than the property's current market value, or the owner has not complied with orders after 60 days.

City Hall passed a new $90 speeding ticket to be enforced by dozens more surveillance cameras.

 

(Note that police and fire face a crisis from a wave of retirements not being replaced.)

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Legislature watch

The legislature in 2005 passed caps on medical malpractice awards, payday loan regulation, workers comp reform (more for injured and caps on medical), and a victory for the gov. in the "family feud". The Senate closed a few loopholes in gun sales info, sales at shows, and stun guns. Video games with violence and sex were banned for minors. 2005 fall the legislature passed a medigap insurance plan to cover kids.

November 2 2005 Springfield Report by Sen. Kwame Raoul

First, he found much commonality of interest around all parts of the state. Second, he felt he was able to accomplish much in education, healthcare, consumer protection and public safety. (It didn't hurt that much was pushed his way, but he took advantage of it.)

He believes a solid foundation has been built for leveling the school playing field via Bill 755. He worked for early childhood education, some passed other parts not-yet. Passed was new resources for parental involvement at lowest performing schools. Bills were passed to narrow the digital divide.


Representative Barbara Currie reported on the 2006 session:

Winners:

Losers:

State Senator Kwame Raoul listed these highlights

_______

After the 2006 session, the Applied Research Center Midwest Office graded the legislature on enhancing racial equity. It held the key legislation failed to pass:

It also identified 20 pieces of legislation passed and signed that will have positive impact, including SB 92- new Juvenile Justice Department and related 283 eliminating automatic transfers of juveniles to adult court. Also, HB 615 for reductions in heath disparity.


Kudos and passings

 

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