Hyde Park-Challenging the next decade

HPKCC's 60th Anniversary kick off forum

Celebrating 60 Years, 1949-2009

 

Committee and Agenda

The HPKCC 60th Anniversary Committee

Nancy Baum, Gwen Bonds, Richard Buchner, jane Comiskey, Jane Ciacci, George Davis, Trish Morse, Gary Ossewaarde

Agenda:

HPKCC 60th Anniverary Kickoff Forum

Hyde Park—Challenging the Next Decade
February 18, 2009 7:00 p.m. Hyde Park Neighborhood Club

Check in, handouts, questionnaire forms and cards for panel, refreshments

7:10 p.m. Welcome, toast, introductions- Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC Vice President, Anniversary chair.

7:15 p.m.
"60 Years of Hyde Park History in 15 Minutes" James D. Withrow, a HPKCC Board member.

7:30 p.m. Introduction of panel. Gary Ossewaarde

Jay N. Ammerman: HPKCC 1st Vice President, Condos and Co-ops Chair, business consultant, and active in numerous community organizations including his condo assn.

Lenora Austin: HPKCC Board, Executive Director of Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, active on community issues inc. disabilities, former school principal

George W. Davis: HPKCC Board, Development and Parks committees; park steward

Ted Fetters: Aide to State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, member of HPKCC Schools Committee, member of Kenwood Academy LSC

Annika Frazier Muhammad: HPKCC Schools Committee, Murray Academy LSC, schools advocacy and support organizations

Allan Lindrup: Treasurer of Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council and chair of its Interfaith Dialogue Committee and Homeless Concerns Task Force, a founder and fundraising chair of Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project, Co-Chair of the Racial Justice Task Force, First Unitarian Church, and active on his condo board

Bart Schultz: Director, U of C Civic Knowledge Project, Sr. Lecturer in Philosophy and the College, active on arts and sustainability issues

James W. Withrow: HPKCC Board, Transit/Accessibility Task Force Chair

Moderator: George W. Rumsey, President, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

7:30-8:30 pm. Questions to the panel, from questionnaire and later from cards and from the floor, on what will drive Hyde Park directions, what should be kept or changed, and how

8:30 Sum up and comments by panelists and moderator; next steps

Adjournment before 9:00 p.m.

You are encouraged to fill in a contact sheet with topics/committees on which wish to work.

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Questionnaire:

1525 E. 53rd St. #907, Chicago, IL 60615 773 288-8343 hpkcc@aol.com http://www.hydepark.org


Hyde Park—Challenging the Next Decade
February 18, 2009 7:00 p.m.—Hyde Park Neighborhood Club

Thank you for attending Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference’s kick off forum celebrating our 60th Anniversary, focused on where our community can or should be by end of the next decade.

Your responses to the following questions and your question cards will help our panelists, and the Conference, focus on major topics or spheres that matter to you. Circle what you most want addressed.

(1) List 0- 5 factors/forces that will most impact our neighborhood over the next 10 years.
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(2) List 0-5 institutions, community life aspects, characteristics, or assets in Hyde Park that you think are most important to keep, or keep essentially like they are now (poss. example: parks).
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(3) List 0-5 institutions, community life aspects, characteristics, or assets in Hyde Park that you think are most important to change or be changed.
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(4) Any other comments, requests

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Letter of explanation to Hyde Park Herald Feb. 11, 2009

HPKCC forum to address community’s next decade

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference invites the community to join us February 18 at the Neighborhood Club for a panel and public discussion on “Hyde Park, Challenging the Next Decade. “

Hyde Parkers and HPKCC have engaged over the past year in an increasingly broad examination of directions our neighborhood might and can take over the next few years. This was spurred by opportunities and challenges posed by development proposals, the Olympics bid, heightened world attention from the election of President Obama, economic challenges, and a sense that both change and frustration at delays in change seem to be accelerating.

HPKCC has helped our community face boldly these and greater challenges and opportunities for 60 years, and emerge better.

Our 60th anniversary programs will seek to broaden and focus community ideas and actions. At our February 18 opening meeting, we ask you and our distinguished panel to start with three questions. You are invited to bring your answers along, send in via e-mail to hpkcc@aol.com, or fill in on a questionnaire at the start of the program.

1. List up to 5 things you think will most impact our neighborhood over the next 10 years.
2. List up to 5 institutions, aspects of community life, or Hyde Park assets you think are most important to keep, or keep essentially as now.
3. List up to 5 institutions, aspects of community life, or Hyde Park assets you think are most important to change or be changed.

Your answers, and the discussion of these and ways to make them happen, will be addressed by our panel and used to focus our next programs and community attention on those issues and opportunities you most want addressed or actions you want taken.
The forum will be held Wednesday, February 18, 7 pm at Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood. Light refreshment will be served.

Gary M. Ossewaarde, vice president and anniversary chair, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

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About HPKCC. (Find more)

By Gary Ossewaarde, whose views it reflects

About Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference
Celebrating 60 Years 1949-2009. The Conference at 60—Hyde Park in 10 Years


The Conference grew out of a community crisis in the late 1940s. People perceived that a good portion of the housing and retail stock had not aged well. Housing was being divided up, especially on and near the main arterials, due in part to high housing demand and the end of enforceable restrictive covenants. Building and other codes were not being enforced. Redlining was rampant. Newcomers were not being welcomed and made part of the life of their blocks. Crime in several respects was on the rise. But new studies of how to fix urban problems and organize communities, and availability of new federal and state programs gave hope.

Faith-based and other Hyde Parkers formed the Conference—an organization engaging in grass roots conversation on community improvement and particularly for a community it envisioned as integrated and of high standards. Some in and outside the community thought these goals impractical, likely to negatively impact low income people of both races, or pit neighbors and institutions against each other—and it frequently did.

But the Conference fought for and found ways to effect integration and went to work on policy and building broad membership, action committees, and most significantly the formation of over 60 active and open block clubs that not only calmed the fear but also served as eyes and ears, improved the neighborhood, and lobbied for better city services and enforcement, schools, and parks. Much of this organizing and programming was generously supported by foundations and community volunteers, and included surveys and photographic record-keeping. (Our rich archive resides in Regenstein Library.)

Significantly also, the Conference spurred and collaborated with the University of Chicago, which assembled the government and agency support, plans and funds to engage in a massive urban renewal, both clear-cut and spot, and to form arms that could ensure positive policing, housing code enforcement, and more.

Despite disagreements and mistakes on many sides, the neighborhood was stabilized and gained confidence. Eventually cleared sectors were filled in, although population density, retail and night life was much reduced--soon Hyde Park would encounter “problems of success.” Thanks to generous funding, the Conference carried out demonstration housing and house-caring; job training; monitoring of redevelopment; had cadres who went to housing and criminal court; supported the Garden Fair, outings, and art fairs, new parks and sculpture. All the time, sight was not lost of the key functions of promoting grass roots conversation and holding elected officials to account.

In later years, new organizations took on many of the burdens the Conference had borne, while funds and a sense of urgency declined. In the 1990’s, the Conference reorganized with new strong committees tackling new issues, often in collaboration with others, and became known for its ongoing series of community forums. The Conference also took part in larger efforts to form new ways of accomplishing community goals, such as the ad hoc committee for 53rd St., 53rd St. TIF and Vision processes, and subject task forces and coalitions.

And we move with emerging and re-emerging issues such as development, preservation and zoning; affordability and affordable housing; disabilities; accessibility; transportation and parking; seniors’ perspectives; association and owners issues; sustainability; public safety; park usage; impacts of Olympic bids and other changes including University growth, and the needs of service providers and small institutions.

We maintain one of the most comprehensive community and community organization websites, www.hydepark.org. And we publish the Conference Reporter (8-12 pages two to four times a year) for our members and community stakeholders.

We continue to serve as fiscal agent or provide support services for groups including Friends of Blackstone Library, Southside Preservation Action Fund, Chicago Academic Games League, Hyde Park Garden Fair, and park advisory councils. And we stage a huge annual book sale.
We dropped geographic boundaries, realizing that in many ways we must act as part of a larger South Side. The Conference continues to be membership-based and answerable to the community. Our annual meeting and elections are held in the fall.

The Conference would not have existed without the hundreds and thousands who have been members, contributors, friends, board members and officers, and the many businesses, foundations, and organizations who have so generously supported or given their help. Thank you.

Our purpose today remains,
“…to attend to the civic needs of the community; work toward an attractive, secure, diverse, and caring community; and to promote participation of residents, businesses, institutions, and organizations in programs and activities that advance the interests and concerns of the community. It serves the community as a watchdog, independent voice, and clearing house in the community’s ongoing conversation and decisions about those matters which affect and define community life.”


A recap of the Conference in 2008

By Gary Ossewaarde

Looking back at 2008—HPKCC as we enter our 60th Anniversary Year

We were busy in 2008!

• Our March 2008 Conference Reporter told you of our Harper Court and 53rd Street forums, on line survey and involvement in the Vision process, the winter garden lectures, Kenwood Park controversies, and Schools Committee outreach. The August Reporter discussed Garden Fair, parks, and development matters and featured an essay on “Income Diversity and Community Development in Hyde Park” by D. Garth Taylor.

• The Conference ran a highly successful Hyde Park Used Book Sale Columbus Weekend, for the second year. Our surplus was larger although sales were lower. This community service is now our largest fundraiser, enabling us to be ready to do much more. Among dozens of hard-working volunteers, especially notable were chairs Jane Ciacci and Jane Comiskey. Absolutely essential was our sponsor, Treasure Island Foods. Save your books for next October. We’ll be collecting from mid-August through September. Sign up to volunteer with Jane Comiskey.

• Our intrepid Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee held two sales, 3rd Friday and Saturday in May and 3rd Saturday in September. Proceeds from the sales go to neighborhood beautification projects and the Conference. Four gardening lectures were held in the winter. 2009’s (4 Tuesdays in February) will prefigure a gala 50th anniversary celebration May 31.

• HPKCC collaborated on breakthrough proposals in transportation and affordable housing issues including ideas to prepare for the expected impacts and potential benefits of all eyes being on Hyde Park due to the election, and of the bid for the 2016 Olympics. The most dramatic is the “Gold Line,” building on ideas for intense, “EL”-like Metra South Chicago service, with transfers to CTA, now costed out with added features. HPKCC has supported such proposals for many years. The Gold Line has now garnered broad support among our elected officials and several public agencies. Our Transit and Accessibility Task Force is led by James Withrow.

• Regarding collaborations, our chief transit collaborator, and lead on affordable housing and related initiatives, is the Coalition for Equitable Community Development—visit hpkcoalition.org. Another group we have worked closely with is Hyde Park Older Women’s League, OWL, hydeparkowl.org, which works to create a seniors friendlier community, and an area disabilities task force. And we’ve worked with Hyde Park Historical Society, and others active on development or sustainability. In these stressed times, HPKCC is very concerned with the health of civic--and service providers such as the Neighborhood Club, Hunger Program, and Blue Gargoyle. One of our roles is to serve as fiscal agent and facilitator for major neighborhood projects: We added Friends of Blackstone Library, started launch of a preservation support fund, and continued to advance Chicago Academic Games League, the Hyde Park Garden Fair, and Nichols Park Advisory Council. We seek others we can help or steer to those suited to help.

• HPKCC chaired and completed a Usage Committee to resolve issues of Kenwood Park usage, future, and park advisory council. About twenty residents and stakeholders served on this committee, convened by Alderman Toni Preckwinkle and chaired by HPKCC President George Rumsey to research, solicit observations, and reach consensus for the park. The ball fields are recommended for return to original configuration with more grass; other upgrades to the park are recommended or funded; and scheduling of games and activities will be improved and respected. Kenwood Park’s advisory council now carries out the monitoring and upgrades and meets four or more times a year, usually last Wednesdays. Contact us for schedule.

• We continued to support our schools, local school councils, and parents with two networking and informational dinners and roll out of HPKCC’s Youth Program Database, available to parents and schools at hydepark.org/schools. Committee chair Nancy Baum has the committee planning a forum spring 2009 on a major schools matter and community schools engagement. Find our description at hydepark.org/education/AboutHPKCCSchools.htm.

• HPKCC worked on developing a set of principles and needs list for Harper Court and 53rd St., in collaboration with Alderman Preckwinkle, the TIF, many other organizations, the university, and the city. Our part included a forum in February, a web survey in winter and spring, participation or logistics in planning and review meetings and workshops—and lots of letters, emails and phone calls. And we consulted on or queried many other development projects and the neighborhood and development goals of the University of Chicago.

• We worked with many other organizations throughout the South Side on intertwined issues such as sustainability, infrastructure, accessibility, and public safety. Especially active in outreach have been James Withrow and Vicki Suchovsky. James meets 1 on 1 with residents about their concerns and ideas for “getting around.” Vicki is also chair of our WhistleStop program—drop by Treasure Island 2nd Saturdays 11:30-1 to buy whistles or chat.

• Being concerned about the ability of Hyde Parkers to afford their homes and the viability of condo and other homeowner associations, in December we held a forum for condo and co-op owners on handling foreclosures and other financial and legal issues. Committee chair is Jay Ammerman.

• Finally, we had a fine and engaging annual meeting in September that included extensive discussion with our aldermen and representatives and election of eight members to our Board of Directors: Jay Ammerman (returning) Amy Becker, Gwen Bonds, Amy Girst, Wallace Goode, Anita Hollins, Julie Monberg (re-elected), and James Withrow (returning). Our Officers, elected in October, are George Rumsey, President; Jay Ammerman, 1st Vice President; Gary Ossewaarde, 2nd Vice President; Trish Morse, Secretary, and Mark Granfors, Treasurer. Amidst all this we moved our office to 1525 E. 53rd St. Ste. 907.

Explore the website, hydepark.org for full coverage and in depth features on our community’s past, rich tapestry, and evolving future. And check out its many calendars. Our chief writer and manager, Gary Ossewaarde, welcomes your thoughts.

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60 Years of Hyde Park History in 15 Minutes

By James Withrow, HPKCC board member. With permission of the author. Originally in http://alwaysintransit.typepad.com/hyde_park_urbanist/

 

Good evening. My name is James Withrow. I chair the Transit Task Force of the Conference. I also write a blog called Hyde Park Urbanist.

Oh, I know what some of you are thinking right now: “This guy's one of those nasty bloggers.” Maybe you're thinking of that other blog in Hyde Park where they call people names. But that's not my blog. At Hyde Park Urbanist, we try very hard not to dehumanize. We also don't take the Lord's name in vain.

One of the names that other blog calls long-time Hyde Parkers is NIMBYs. That's N-I-M-B-Y, short for “not in my back yard”. Their accusation is that long-time Hyde Parkers are fighting all change. There's a kernel of truth to that, I suppose. Folks who've built institutions get a little attached to them, even if it's an institution like the Co-op, which was a little hard to love at the end. But long-time Hyde Parkers welcome change. They just don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water.

In any case, it's important to understand how our neighborhood came to look like it does, to understand its history before we go down the road of wholesale change. Again.

Tonight, in the span of 15 minutes, I'm going to cover the last 60 years of Hyde Park and a bit of its future. 60-plus years in 15 minutes. I may leave out a few things. I may even have to generalize a little. Please forgive me.

Between 1915 in 1965, some 25 million people moved from the southern states to cities in the north. Most stayed. Of those who stayed, about half were white and about half were black. Industrial jobs in cities were drawing in migrants, but very little housing was built during the Depression or during World War II. The Depression sapped investment and resources were needed elsewhere during World War II. But people were still moving to northern cities. Where were they supposed to live?

The authorities tried to contain an ever-growing population of Blacks within Bronzeville. But by 1947, a corridor from Cottage Grove to State Street, all the way from 25th Street to South Chicago Avenue was majority black. The Chicago Real Estate Board led a campaign to promote racial covenants in the adjoining nearly all-white neighborhoods of Englewood, Kenwood, Hyde Park and Woodlawn. (http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1761.html)

But in 1948, the Supreme Court declared racial covenants to be legally unenforceable. Some whites in these adjoining neighborhoods then resorted to extralegal tactics, including violence and property damage to keep blacks penned into that corridor from Cottage Grove to State Street. Other whites moved en masse out to all-white suburbs. But Hyde Parkers generally blanched at the thought of such tactics and the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference was formed to talk out problems, to stamp out rumors, to confer-- to confer and figure out a way to make integration work.

And in fairness to all, I should point out that at this time in America's history, even if you wished racism never existed, even if you would have been comfortable with blacks living on your block, integration had some risks. In the first place, city services were markedly unequal. In African-American neighborhoods, the trash might or might not get picked up. The police might fight crime in your neighborhood or they might figure out how to make crime pay for themselves.

And at the federal level we had redlining. Beginning with the New Deal and then expanding with the GI Bill, the federal government promoted home ownership by underwriting credit. But the federal government worried that neighborhoods “in transition”, neighborhoods with significant or majority black populations-- the government worried that these neighborhoods would decline. So they “redlined” whole neighborhoods. Of course, once credit vanished, whole neighborhoods did decline in this self-fulfilling prophecy. Not until the 1970s, would redlining be outlawed. Even if you were a white person living in a black neighborhood, the government at all levels discriminated against you.

Ok, so we're now in the fifties. Wholesale racial changes are possible. The housing stock is horrid because so little was built or even rehabbed during the Depression and World War II. And there was a credit crisis-- a neighborhood credit crisis because people were afraid to invest in this community.

But as a nation, we were powerful. America had just won a two front war against fascism, a war that ended when the most devastating weapon ever devised was dropped on Japan. American industrial strength was the envy of the world. Our standard of living was far, far better than most of the world. At that time, more than any other time in our history, Americans believed that we could do anything we set our minds to do, that the government could solve all manner of problems if only the program were big enough.

So, in this neighborhood with its University of Chicago scholars and high-powered progressive politicians, a program was hatched. This program was called urban renewal and the compromises made during urban renewal would re-shape Hyde Park. Federal money would be brought in to raze dilapidated buildings and expand our institutions.

The urban renewal program was developed mostly by the powerful institutional actors in our neighborhood, but after years of meetings and presentations and forums, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference signed off on Plans A & B. The Conference had large concerns about the urban renewal plans, but it's clear it never felt it had the choice of simply opposing them. The Conference worried that, if it opposed urban renewal, it would lose its seat at the table, lose its chance to shape the plans.

The Conference pressed for more public housing to be built and this ended up being the regret the Conference voiced the loudest. In the end fewer than 100 units were scattered across Hyde Park. One sociologist claimed that the lack of public housing disappointed the Conference as a whole while members as individuals were relieved.

The Conference played a small role in shaping the program, but it appears that the main way the Conference influenced these last 50 years of Hyde Park history was to articulate a vision for Hyde Park. Hyde Park would be a community of high standards, an interracial community of high standards.

Urban renewal cleared away many working-class homes as well as several single room occupancy hotels. The South East Chicago Commission was established with the help of the University to enforce municipal codes so that buildings could not be cut up into smaller and smaller apartments. The idea was that urban renewal would clear away the kinds of places that poor people had been moving into. This famously led comedian Mike Nichols to describe Hyde Park as a place where blacks and whites stood shoulder to shoulder against the poor.

I think you can only consider this vision for Hyde Park as progressive if you really understand the times. Sure, the poor were kept at bay, but in other neighborhoods like Woodlawn and Englewood, whites chose to move out in droves rather than establish integrated neighborhoods. Maybe there were other communities that chose to become interracial at this time of great change in America's cities, but I bet you could count those communities on one hand.

In any case, this compromise worked. Hyde Park is that interracial community of high standards. The vision that the Conference articulated at the moment of urban renewal became the accepted vision for Hyde Park and many people who moved here since urban renewal chose the neighborhood at least partly for its diversity. Its interracial population is an amenity.

Those who invested in Hyde Park decades ago have probably done well. The value of homes here has generally outpaced suburban neighborhoods. But it wasn't always clear that that would be the outcome. I know a woman who came here during the late 60s with her husband to raise their family. They could have afforded to live elsewhere, but she wanted her children to grow up in an interracial community. Soon after she moved in, a gang skirmish broke out on the Midway a couple blocks south of her. She told me she remembers sitting in a chair, putting her head in her hands and asking herself: “What have I done?”

Integration was no day at the beach for black people either. It takes some guts to live in a place where you suspect people may discriminate against you for the color of your skin. I'm sure every African-American in Hyde Park had some friend or relative didn't trust any white people and wondered why black people would want to live among them. But blacks and whites together made integration work.

I grew up in a town called Mattoon in downstate Illinois—20,000 people, probably 95% white. As a child, I had a strong suspicion that my life would be richer if I lived among both white and black people. Today, I just couldn't imagine living in a place where everyone was white like me. The folks who insisted upon an interracial community of high standards and stuck with the neighborhood through thick and thin—those folks are heroes to me. They created the community I dreamed of as a child.

And this vision of an interracial community with high standards has borne important fruit. Hyde Park was the political base of Harold Washington and Barack Obama. Is it just a coincidence that a community that chose to be interracial would become the political power base for the first black mayor of Chicago and the first black president of the United States, the first black president of any white democracy in the world? Do you think that's just a coincidence?

Now, Barack Obama is a brilliant guy. Maybe he could've chosen some other place to live and launch his career from. But he chose Hyde Park. Maybe he would have succeeded elsewhere and eventually become the first black president. It's conceivable. But the world doesn't have to worry about that alternative universe, does it? The President chose Hyde Park and everything worked out. On the most important issue of these long-term Hyde Parkers’ adult lives, they were on the right side and we have President Barack Obama as the tangible fruit of their labors.

They’re heroes to me. When other people call them NIMBYs, they should take it as a compliment. Because at a critical moment in American history, neighborhoods around them were resorting to racism, telling Hyde Parkers that racism could save their neighborhood, telling them that an integrated neighborhood was impossible. And they stood up and said, “Racism? Not in my backyard.”

Still, there's work to be done. There's a moat to fill in.

You know the moat-- the moat around Hyde Park. Sometimes it's almost literal, with Lake Michigan to the east and a sunken Midway Plaisance on the south. Washington Park forms a barrier to the west.

Sometimes the moat is figurative. We've done many things that are nearly invisible that make Hyde Park difficult to visit, but transit and retail are two things I know something about, so I’m going to talk only about them.

Urban renewal did something a bit insidious. Urban renewal made transit less useful for shopping.

Again, let me set the stage. Several urban planning ideas of the fifties are now discredited. Urban planners used to believe that mixed-use blocks are a problem. During the 50s and 60s they tried to separate industrial areas from commercial & residential areas, which makes some sense. But they also tried to separate commercial areas from residential areas, something today’s urban planners consider a colossal mistake.

I can't really blame them the urban planners of the fifties. Hyde Park at the time, before widespread integration, had one of the highest crime rates in the city. Along 55th Street from Cottage Grove to Lake Park, there were 47 bars. Today, there are two bars on that stretch of 55th St. Somewhere between two and 47 is the magic number of bars that 55th Street ought to have.

I think it was very easy to look at those bars and then look at the crime rate and make a connection. It's possible that the commercial buildings seemed like the most dilapidated structures in Hyde Park. Certainly, some of the single room occupancy hotels that were then being rented out to transients actually housed criminals. Rooting out the bars and those hotels made some sense. The thinking at the time probably was that there would be districts of bars in cities set away from the neighborhoods-- places like Rush Street. Those urban planners were wrong about bars; plenty of people now consider neighborhood bars to be an amenity.

Plus, urban planners were under the assumption that in some bright, shiny future everyone would own a personal automobile and drive wherever they wanted to go. Boomtowns of the 50s and 60s were planned according to these principles, which urban planners today hate. That's one of the reasons why I contend that the worst thing about urban renewal was how sudden it was. Gradual changes make more sense. Probably half of what urban planners today believe will turn out to be bad ideas and we don't know which half. So, let's make gradual changes and we can correct our mistakes as we go.

So, these twin ideas of separating residential from commercial and assuming people would someday drive everywhere led the business community in Hyde Park to support urban renewal. I believe many of them looked forward to having shopping centers with parking, these futuristic places where customers would be able to drive to and then park in front of their businesses.

But a couple things got in the way of this futuristic vision. Shopping center parking lots take up lots and lots and lots of space. And, even if you construct a large shopping center like the one that now houses the big-box retailers Office Depot and Treasure Island, small businesses found they had trouble getting in because shopping center developers preferred national chains. This was not an aesthetic choice, but rather a cold hard fact that developers had to contend with. Banks lending money to build shopping centers charged lower interest on the loans if the tenants were national chains because they were seen as more creditworthy tenants.

So, what does this have to with transit and the moat?

Urban renewal, without anyone meaning to, I think, reduced the number of businesses in Hyde Park because there was far less commercial space. Hyde Park therefore became less attractive for folks from other neighborhoods to visit just because there were fewer retail shops and restaurants and bars. But urban renewal dug part of the moat with amazing precision.

Almost all the commercial spaces we lost during urban renewal were along the transit corridors of Lake Park and 55th Street. Now, we have a situation where our supposed Main Street--53rd Street-- has no bus line. Ditto 57th Street. On the other hand, there are plenty of buses on 55th Street, but only a few places to shop.

On that other blog, the head writer recently looked at the block building exercise that was held for 53rd Street and noticed that one Harper Court proposal had 114 retail units. Could Hyde Park really support 114 retail units, he asked?

Wrong question. If we weren't so provincial, we'd ask if Hyde Park could attract enough people from outside the neighborhood to shop here so that we could have 114 units of retail to walk to. Sometimes we just take the moat for granted.

Was the Conference any better about this? I'm afraid not. We recently put a survey on the web asking Hyde Parkers what they wanted in a new, improved Harper Court. Shouldn't we have asked what we could have in a new Harper Court to bring outsiders here to shop? Shouldn't we ask what would appeal to our neighbors who live in a worse retail desert than we do?

If folks from outside the neighborhood come here to shop—even if it’s at a business Hyde Parkers aren’t that interested in—they’re likely to linger to shop and eat and drink at other places we value. And more shoppers mean more eyes on the street, which will make us feel safer.

We have to fill in this moat. We need to build retail with transit in mind. It's fine to put a commercial center at Harper Court, but let's improve transit so that it will be easier for people to shop in Hyde Park without driving here. Let’s get behind the Gold Line.

And let's take another look at gradually re-commercializing 55th Street, where the buses are. It's really 55th Street where diverse Hyde Parkers come together. White and black, young and old, we tend to meet along 55th Street-- at the Neighborhood Club, at Jimmy's, at the Seven-Ten. (And for decades we met at the Co-op.)

The University is actually a little ahead of the community in filling in this moat around Hyde Park, investing in the schools in the neighborhoods around us and extending police protection to include all of Kenwood and Woodlawn and much of Washington Park. These neighborhoods will continue to get safer and more attractive.

This expansive vision, however, needs to extend to retail & transit, to once again make it more attractive for neighboring communities to visit us. That’s the logical extension of the Conference’s vision of an interracial neighborhood of high standards. The Conference and the neighborhood need to make Hyde Park a welcoming place for all.

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Reports and summaries of the Forum

Coverage

Chicago Weekly, February 26, 2009. 60 Years of HPKCC. By Natalie Doss

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference celebrated its 60th anniversary on Wednesday with "Challenging the Next Decade," a forum devoted to discussing the future of the Hyde Park community. As Hyde Park was confronted by issues of integration and the community's deteriorating infrastructure in the late 1940s, the HPKCC was formed to "confer and figure out a way to make integration work," said HPKCC board member James [D.] Withrow in his opening speech. The main task of The Conference, according to Withrow, has been to set forth a vision for Hyde Park as "an interracial community of high standards."

The concerns of the forum--the minutiae of Hyde Park life--were not the sorts of issues that would be expected to provoke extreme controversy or excitement, yet the audience, consisting mostly of long-time resident of the community, was notable for its enthusiasm, cantankerous attitude, and strong demands. The topics discussed included issues affecting the nation as a whole but manifested on a local level: the worry about affordable housing, how to created a "green" community, the need for better public schools. Other matters were more peculiar to Hyde Park: the nostalgia for Hyde Park's former artists' colony, the need to attract more retail.

Of course, underneath this vibrant atmosphere lay the reality that, while some change may occur, Hyde Park will never be the ideal community that the audience envisioned. The forum ended on a somewhat frustrating note; many had not been able to voice their questions and complaints, and while there were many hopeful ideas, there were few realistic plans to implement. As one gentleman noted after the forum, we can see that even HPKCC's vision of Hyde Park as an interracial community of high standards has not, in many ways, yet been met.

It was odd, then, that so many in the audience, seeing the same problems year after year, still attended the forum, firmly declared (sometimes yelled) their requests, and hung around for an extra half hour to continue their discussions in twos and threes. It seemed more like a group of people who, wise enough to know that they can never effect as much change as they wish, are also the types that find it more fun to care than not.

 

Herald, February 25, 2009. HP-K CC: Olympics dictate HP's future. By Sam Cholke

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-K CC) hosted as forum on Feb. 18 to discuss the course of the neighborhood over the next ten years -- a decade that many on the panel thought would be marked by a series of shocks.

"the housing stock really hasn't changed in a long time," said Jay Ammerman, chair of the HP-K CC condos and co-ops committee. "It's going to take a shock to the system to change that - shocks that a lot of people don't really want to see come. That's what a lot of us are going to be dealing with: How do we deal with more density?"

Several developments are already planned for the neighborhood that would drastically increase the density in some areas of Hyde Park. Some of those are on the back burner waiting for the economic outlook to improve, including a developer L3-planned 17-story building at the corner of East 53rd Street and South Cornell Avenue.

More significant than changes in the neighborhood, several on the forum thought the community would be more significantly reshaped by the development of surrounding neighborhoods-- especially if Chicago wins its bid for the 2016 Olympics. "We already have an identity of of some sore. It's everywhere else that will have an impact on us -- new areas that are suddenly in direct competition," said George Davis, an member of the HP-K CC board.

The panelists thought the dramatic reshaping of surrounding neighborhoods due to a sudden influx of Olympics-associated funding could increase the pace of development in Hyde Park. "Gradual change makes more sense," said James Withrow, chair of the HP-K CC transportation committee. half the things we do today, we'll hate in 50 years. he said. "I don't think we can beat the mayor on the Olympics, so it's a matter of getting as much for our neighborhood as we can," Withrow said.

The panelists thought it might be a struggle to divert money from neighborhoods more closely linked to the Olympics. "We need to fight for every dollar we can get for the neighborhood," said Ted Fetters, an aide to state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25).

In response to a question from the audience about the future of the arts in Hyde Park, panelists said the housing climate was no longer conducive to fostering an artist's community, particularly of unestablished artists. "There's a lot of reasons artists don't live here. They can't afford to live here," Davis said. "The other thing is the people in the neighborhood have changed over the years."

All on the panel thought Hyde Park would remain a strong home for the arts, citing the Hyde Park Art Center, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival and other institutions. The large amount of affordable housing stock and studio space necessary to establish a community of artists was not likely to return to Hyde Park, many of the panelists said.

The panel predicted the University of Chicago would remain the large employer in the neighborhood, but most were unclear on the future of working in Hyde Park outside of the college and medical center. "When I graduated college I took a job in Hyde Park," Ammerman said after the meeting. "When that job left, there wasn't anywhere else in the neighborhood for me to work besides the university."

Bart Schultz, director of the university's Civic Knowledge Project, said the future of working in Hyde Park was in the environmental sector, but wasn't able to elaborate.

The forum, part of the 60th anniversary celebration events for HP-K CC, concluded that the future of Hyde Park would involve much more participation with surrounding neighborhoods, and how that interaction will take shape depends largely on the city's Olympic bid.

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Meeting summary

Preliminary Report on the HPKCC Anniversary Kickoff Forum
“Hyde Park – Challenging the Next Decade”
February 18, 2009, Hyde Park Neighborhood Club

By Gary Ossewaarde, Anniversary Committee Chair

The program consisted of welcome, a talk on 60 Years of Hyde Park History in 15 Minutes, Questions to our panel, summary results from our questionnaire, and hand-in of an evaluation.

Handouts included Agenda, Questionnaire, About Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Looking Back at 2009—HPKCC as we enter our 60th Anniversary Year (the last two by and reflecting views of Gary Ossewaarde), January 2009 Conference Reporter, and Evaluation form.

Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC vice president gave a welcome and introduction of the Conference, this program and handouts, the Anniversary Committee, and programmatic committee chairs, and offered a toast to the Conference and community. Those who provided the refreshments were thanked. Members of the Anniversary Committee are Nancy Baum, Gwen Bonds, Richard Buchner, Jane Comiskey, Jane Ciacci, George Davis, Trish Morse, and Gary Ossewaarde

James Withrow, HPKCC board member, presented on “60 Years of Hyde Park History in 15 Minutes.” Withrow related conditions that led to formation of the Conference, the goals, the complexities, compromises, and mistakes. Issues and needs today are at once the same and different, Withrow said, one being how to re-assemble (and grow) retail around transit corridors.

Ossewaarde introduced the panel while volunteers tabulated responses to a questionnaire that asked what will drive change in the next decade, what should be kept, and what changed. Questions were directed by moderator George Rumsey and audience members to the panel consisting of Jay Ammerman, Lenora Austin, Ted Fetters, George Davis, Allan Lindrup, Annika Frazier-Muhummad, Bart Schultz, and James Withrow.

Discussion mostly centered around challenges/obstacles in the next decade and how to meet them. Some audience members cited need to bring in “more”, particularly retail choices, culture and activities, need for institutions such as the Conference to better mirror community diversity, groups to work together and promote what each can offer, and to reach beyond neighborhood “borders.” A specific suggestion was trolleys and other ways to improve getting around. Panelist Lenora Austin cited the Cultural Alliance as a productive example of what can be done.

Another set of challenges cited centered around preserving economic diversity and affordability, and how to work with or around market forces. Complications mentioned were the role of the University and its students and staff in the housing and retail markets, lack of units (countered by complaints about pressures for more density), and condo and other buildings aging out. Panelist Jay Ammerman reiterated that questions of having and managing development and density will be a major challenge. Other panelists worried that the new and the neighborhood in general will be different and more expensive, with little suited to middle-class seniors. Bart Schultz suggested thinking experimentally, like calling for low-cost green condos. Audience member John Murphy summarized this as how to have changes that don’t destroy the qualities that brought us here in the first place and added that an unknown is how much change the University will make.

Another challenge, one queried, how much are we really willing to open up to other communities. This prompted discussion of effects of the Olympics and Olympic planning, should Chicago be selected. Will it be an elephant? What will it accelerate? UC presence on the Committee was noted—is the University THE voice for our community? Schultz worried about loss of park and recreational loss and treating these as vacant lots and treating their users as expendable. Others pointed to potential effects on diversity and leaving out transit improvements. Panelist George Davis said the main effect will likely be to accelerate filling in the rest of the South Side, pitting these communities in many ways in competition with Hyde Park—land is already being assembled. He added discussion shows that we need to learn to respond before the waves, think of the big issues and not let other people determine what happens in our neighborhood. What kind of community do we want to be, and how can we reconcile conflicting visions? Withrow thought transit and maybe biking upgrade is the best bet for something we can get out of the Olympics.

Turning to changes and solutions, Schultz suggested a cachet for Hyde Park, as a way of differentiating ourselves and managing impacts and competition might be to identify as being “green.” He said this will need community education and added that green works best where there is density. This led into another challenge, how to hold developers into doing what “we” want. Davis said we can be green without being dense—partly by retrofitting how we get around. We need a community plan and organize around it. Others asked, what is the game plan for our arterials, especially Lake Park and 53rd and what we want there?

Several said another way to distinguish the community, change it positively, and do this another way than through “dense and big” is to bring in more art ( rather than kicking it out, as one said re: Harper Court). Davis cautioned bringing in art (production side) faces obstacles of affordability and that artists neighborhoods may have different demographics and dynamics than Hyde Park.

Another challenge cited was white collar jobs other than at the University and increasing local employment in small businesses. (Suggested were creating green jobs and low-rent to entrepreneurs.) Another was getting the businesses aware and working together. Austin added that in this economy we have to find ways to be helping each other, and get around the high-rent problem for businesses. Also cited was a perceived business customer-friendly problem, including not reaching beyond the “borders”.

Parks were discussed as a challenge. Asked were a consideration of why some parks are popular, others empty or even problems. Homelessness and solutions were considered.

Suggested was a joint calendar of events and coordination between the various organizations and providers.
Crime and public safety, judging from reactions—and comments made after the meeting, is an area needing more full and informed community discussion, with contexts.

Schools were discussed—is the glass mostly full or empty, and how can we make them better? One problem cited was that many parents send their children outside Hyde Park while a high proportion of students in our schools is from other neighborhoods. One said good schools and attendance there is intertwined with ability to bring in a well-off residents, in turn to good retail options at reasonable prices. Also cited was lack of enough after school and extra-curricular programming or knowledge of them (panelist Frazier-Muhummad). Cited as a good step was rules that students have to earn the right of lunch-off-campus. More attention to the needs of children and parents in the neighborhood and schools was suggested. Panelist Ted Fetters warned that school funding is falling behind while business community partners are stressed and even pulling out of schools.

Other suggestions were to bring lots of organizations (including service, disabilities-oriented) and demographics into the “room” to plan for the future, providing affordable rental options, and dealing with realty managers seen as without full vision of neighborhood needs and characters.

Jane Ciacci of the Anniversary Committee and HPKCC Board member, showed in PowerPoint a summary of questionnaire responses Preliminary only- top few only.

List 0-5 factors/forces that will most impact our neighborhood over the next 10 years.
University expansion, policies, kind of community engagement- 14
Olympic-related- 13
(4:) Economic crisis/foreclosures/ loss of businesses; 53rd redevel.; Antheus/other developers-managers
(3:) Obama factor; Quality schools

List 0-5 institutions, community life aspects, characteristics, or assets in Hyde Park that you think are most important to keep, or keep essentially like they are now.
Parks and lakefront/beaches and swimming/tree canopy/Midway- 20
Diversity- 7
University as Helpful Elephant- 5
(4:) Open community engagement/keep our institutions and have work together; Community events; Harper Ct and Theater; 53rd rstaurants

List 0-5 institution, community life aspects, characteristics, or assets in Hyde Park that you think are most important to change or be changed.
Retail improvements and broader mix/coverage- 9
More culture/nightlife- 6
University help solve problems incl. business and have better attitude- 6
Traffic/Transport-getting around- 5
(4:) Parking; Community activism and involvement

Evaluations with more ideas were collected, thanks given, and the meeting adjourned.

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Preliminary summary questionnaire responses

By Jane Ciacci, HPKCC board member

Hyde Park – Challenging the Next Decade
February 18, 2009

Summary questionnaire responses

A few long comments are not included in full here. Responses are listed in order from most to least frequently mentioned (number of mentions in parentheses)

1. 0-5 factors that will most impact our neighborhood over the next 10 years

Various issues to do with the University – land banking, expansion to west and south, development plans, stores and buildings; attitude, responsiveness, willingness to be in touch and part of the neighborhood (14)

Effect of the Olympics, if we get it (13)

Transit issues (CTA)– doesn’t run regularly/ easy transportation for all/ paratransit/ maintain and improve intra-neighborhood transit/rail development (5)
Affordable rental housing (4)
The economy in general (4)
53rd St. redevelopment (4)
Antheus/MAC gentrifying the neighborhood/real estate investors (4)
Obama factor: “gravy train”/ his security/ “Barack Obama, neighbor and President” (3)
Quality public schools/need improvements/don’t attract local residents (3)
Further loss of commercial ventures (3)
Continued racial diversity (2)
Parking (2)
Crime/maintaining safety in face of economic hard times
Further deterioration of vintage buildings/lack of $ to invest/vacant buildings
Shopping online
Gentrification of surrounding areas

1 each for all the rest
Improved commercial ventures
Sustainability issues
Mortgage foreclosures in surrounding area
Traffic
Housing
Aging population – “will more young people come to stay in HP?”
Loss of nonprofits with funding collapse (aging population, HP “wealthy image”)
People who don’t want a role (?) in development
Further division of local interests – us/them mentality
Quality of Chicago city government
Reduced city services in HP and everywhere else
State and city funding for education, transportation and other critical services
Who replaces Ald. Preckwinkle if she is elected Cook County Board President, and his/her policies
Harper Court
Run-down conditions in general
Easily-available health care and nearby ER
Clean green streets
What is built around the neighborhood (a long comment)
Expansion of Latino community south and to the lakefront
Technology to improve public safety and transit convenience
Lack of social services and advocates for at-risk populations
Lack of assertive, strong advocates for tenants’ rights
Government-financed senior housing
Millenium Park and downtown entertainment


2. 0-5 institutions, community life aspects, characteristics, or assets in Hyde Park that you think are most important to keep, or keep essentially like they are now (an attendee pointed out very correctly that even if we keep things, they should always be changing)

Parks, lakefront, the Point, beaches and swimming, the tree canopy, the Midway (20)
Economic, social and racial diversity (7)
University as an asset/”the Helpful Elephant” (5)
All community organizations/retain and become more inclusive of all in town meeting and community engagement tradition (4)
Community events (Jazz Fest/Garden Fair/book sale/farmers’ markets/HPK Interfaith Council Thanksgiving Service) (4)
Harper Court/53rd St./53rd & Harper building/affordable restaurants on 53rd (4)
Active and well-kept-up churches (3)
Police protection and fire service (2)
Affordable housing (2)
HPKCC (2)
Architecture/high standards/restore or renovate architecturally significant buildings (2)

1 each for all the rest
Grocery stores
Banks
Better schools
Movie theater
57th St. one way at Metra
Public transit
Water system
People who live here should be able to stay
Support HP Art Center!
Cultural institutions
Tennis courts that are well kept
Bookstores
Community newspaper covering events and University events
“return to a co-op as it was for community involvement”
Citizens’ Committee


3. 0-5 institutions, community life aspects, characteristics or assets in Hyde Park that you think are most important to change or be changed

Retail mix/items the average household consumes/improved residential-small business mix/better, more attractive shops/spruce up run-down (9)
Culture: cultural offerings and facilities/movie theater/space for public performances/”culture sites” (long comments) (6)
University help in commercial development/parking/land-banking policy/transparency/negative impact on affordable housing/attitude drive out business (6)
Traffic: publish and enforce rules for bikers, pedestrians and motorists/bike lanes to make getting around by bike safer/loud music from cars/traffic on HP Blvd (6)
Transportation – ecofriendly/universal public access/ways to get around neighborhood, especially shopping areas/improved Metra and CTA/jitneys (long comments) (5)
Parking: easier parking for disabled/get rid of special permits/high-rise builders provide extra parking for sale or lease to neighbors (4)
Community activism, outreach, involvement generally (long comment) (4)
Schools: more charter schools/more integration (2)
Greater commitment to affordable housing, more alternatives (2)
We need a first-class hotel (2)
Support services for at-risk, homeless, low-income, seniors and youth (long comment on low-income)(2)
Economic diversity (long comment) (2)

Other comments one each
University students get more involved in community affairs
Elder-friendly community
Parks
Transparency in public proceedings
Deal with small group interests more creatively-better mediators and facilitators
Something to bring HPers out (parade?)
Activities for all ages – sports, exercise, etc.
Gentrification – mostly U of C is in a state of disrepair
Zoning
Increased population and population density
More green living
Forums for correct, neutral debate and info
Equitable balance between HP needs/wants and outreach to greater city
Dog park, possibly in Elm Park
More pedestrian-friendly community –repair sidewalks, install benches
Be realistic about what people want in their community
Streets regularly cleaned and picked up
Health Club Bally’s needs serious update and better community outreach
Integration of students and community (long comment)
More tables outdoors at restaurants
Improved social options (something to do at night)
Crime, including homeless problem
Reinstitute block groups to work on problems in specific areas of HP
Create more middle-income housing/don’t lose what we have
Neighborhood Club is not! There are no community events
Drawing people from north side and downtown to HP events
Question of where the University is going
Improve dialog and planning with adjacent communities (long comment)


4. Any other comments, requests?

Why is Bixler Park so popular? No one seems to like the other parks we have
Why is it that businesses do not make sure that sidewalks are completely clear of snow?
At one time cars were towed and snow plows cleaned all streets of snow, then cars were put back. Why can’t we have a system where cars are told to go to large holding areas such as school parking lots while the streets can be cleared of snow?
Make Hyde Park green and inviting – don’t worry about street people making themselves at home and so keep neighborhood people from using the pleasant outdoors! Get benches with partitions so one cannot sleep on them
Sometimes it does feel that people who are not invested in our neighborhood come to spend time at the lakefront parks from other neighborhoods in such great numbers that there is not enough room for Hyde Parkers. This does not seem to be the case at the Point
Could there be incentives for Hyde Parkers to put in green roofs and make other green improvements?
Area schools deserve their own considerations
Thanks for doing this survey and forum
Thanks for asking. You’re right, change is a challenge. Individuals, organizations and communities are habit-driven. Maybe we need a change czar/psychiatrist. Can our community adapt to new realities? Can HPKCC once again have thousands of members and serve as our town meeting place?
Hyde Park is in jeopardy of losing its racial, economic, family to student and faculty balance in the favor of the University of Chicago’s interest
Do not tear any buildings down
Please no more big box stores with parking lakes
Please no buildings more than 8 stories – we have empty buildings now
Please repair Harper Court – it’s a pleasant place
No more shopping centers
Idea of more senior housing seems appropriate to the area with its parks and green spaces which must be kept
More city involvement in Hyde Park area is necessary, as in Olympics aftermath
THANKS TO ALL WHO ARE DOING THIS!

 

Evaluations summary

By Jane Ciacci

One or more subjects on which YOU are willing to work
Volunteers and their topics are listed separately
One person mentioned advocacy of maintenance and building of affordable housing but didn’t give their name

Subjects that came up tonight on which you want the Conference to focus
Less Density
More art, and art colony
Less University investment
After School programs
Transportation issues – getting cars and the people addicted to them out of Hyde Park
“Green” and sustainability issues
Education, communication of actions of the diverse social action groupsand organizations
The footprint and impact of the Olympics will impact ALL rental housing
When thinking about commerce, don’t forget to factor in how e-commerce is growing, which affects all retail. So what do people want besides bookstores?
Teens after school affordable program
More family activities that are affordable

Suggest a topic for a next or future community meeting
Community input in University real estate development
Education
What is Harper Court Arts Council doing with $6.4M from Harper Court sale to U of C?
Hyde Parkers, what inputs do you have for your neighborhood 2016?
Any of the topics brought up could be a topic for more focused discussion [Don’t need to do Olympics, however, it’s been done too much]
A meeting focused on addressing concerns particular to University students
Meetings focused on green/sustainability issues
Collaborative efforts of the community organizations on addressing the loss of affordable housing
Maintaining character of community – architecturally endangered buildings
Youth and teens
Effects of Olympics
More use of buildings (churches, parks, HPNC) for family activities
How to get U of C studentsmore mixed into the Hyde Park community – using shops, restaurants, etc.

What did you like best about tonight’s meeting?
Questions, answers, comments
Panel’s overview and meeting neighbors
Well-arranged, well-summarized, well-attended. Very good observations and remarks
Good turnout, lots of good questions
Discussion of density and greenness, transportation and retail
Speaker’s emphasis on transportation and trade market
A few young faces
Open discussion
Diversity of opinion, great discussion

What did you like least about tonight’s meeting?
Not enough time for more discussion
Lack of focus, lack of integration of questionnaire into program
Lack of youth representation on the panel
Insensitive, inaccurate comment that giving handouts to the homeless tends to increase crime
Deja-vu – heard some pleas for community calendar at every meeting attended – and same answer, need staff and money!
Makeup of panel – more representation along age, race, income
Views from more mix of people living in area
Not everything got covered

What wasn’t brought up or received insufficient attention?
University real estate activities
Schools
Development issues
Would like pictures of proposed buildings
Why the University of Chicago was not represented!
All community organizations were not represented!
Effect of President Obama re tourism
Presidential Library site should be on South Side, as close to HPK as possible
The idea about a green community – good beginning

Anything else?
Good meeting - appreciate the opportunity to get community input

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Condensed Priorities for further meetings or action from the Feb. 18 questionnaires and evaluations


By Gary Ossewaarde, summarized and condensed from compilations of Jane Ciacci


Most likely to move or affect the neighborhood or become an issue (first 2 by far):

UC
Olympics and Obama effect

Transportation and other access matters
Retail and development
Housing-affordability-aging issues
Economy and being able to keep services- city and agencies; private agencies/orgs working together more

Good schools, parking, continued racial diversity, crime, what happens in nearby areas, money to keep things and homes up—and dozens of single mentions

Concentrate on keeping:
Various open lands-lakefront-parks-greenery (by far)
Economic-social-racial diversity
University as helpful

Community orgs strong and working together, tradition of community engagement
Community events
Harper Court, Theater Bldg, 53rd character, and affordable restaurants on 53rd
Faith institutions and congregations
Police and fire, affordable housing, HPKCC, quality structures (preserved, new)- and lots of single mentions including particular places

Should change:
Combination of improved and eco/people/ped-friendly transportation, traffic, parking, public ways incl. bike interface- creative solutions (tog. 15+ related single mentions)
Retail mix - well kept up (9)

(6 to 4 each plus several of the single-mentions relate to these) More cultural/arts offerings and facilities incl. a theater
UC- stop its negative, step up its positive policies and assists, be more transparent
More community activism and involvement

(2 each) schools (charter and integrated), more affordable housing, hotel, services for at-risk populations, economic diversity. And lots of single mentions that seemed to emphasize more for people to do esp. together, more real information-sharing and debate, engaging other communities--talk about these matters with, work with them.
Note that the single-mentions answers to all the questions have a wealth of ideas worth looking at in themselves.

From evaluations- what seemed to the audience most worth exploring further:
After school and other youth and family activities growth and use, other education improvements
Working more with, combining interests of UC students with those of residents
Improving transportation and various access and getting-around issues
Making Hyde Park green/sustainable while keeping character
Shoring up social and related services and small organizations and institutions
Real dialogue with UC on working in good directions and not at loggerheads
Retail/development
Good Olympics outcome

Drawn indirectly from James Withrow’s opening address:
Be a more welcoming and inviting community (to shop and recreate in, live in, live with each other in)
Fill in the “moat” around Hyde Park (physical, mind-set and perceptual)
Reconnect retail and transportation

Comments made about HPKCC: become issue-central and engagement-central again; invest in a p.a., bring a handout of community meetings-events-announcements [we have in the past], work with other groups on online calendars and interaction and coordination.
Liked best: what people said, overviews, thoughtful comments on green, transportation and retail, meeting people esp. younger
Liked least: wanted even more discussion/too much left out, wanted questions directly from the questionnaire, what some people said, not enough diversity or full representation of community and groups (and UC) in room and on panel

Not or insufficiently discussed: Schools, development, Obama effect including library site, sustainability (good beginning)

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Report #1 to the Public as in the April 22 2009 Hyde Park Herald

Neighbors predict agents of change, stake out what to keep or change

HPK-CC report on "next decade" event

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference held a 60th Anniversary kickoff Community Forum, Hyde Park--Challenging the Next Decade, on February 18, 2009. Its questionnaire, panel and audience considered what may most affect or change our neighborhood, and what should be kept or changed over the next decade.

Many Hyde Parkers have told us over the past year that they think Hyde Park is entering a period of major change and that residents should consider ways to manage, adapt to, or create change—in light of a critical look at what they want for Hyde Park and what they want it to stand for. We decided to find out what matters people think most need a closer look and maybe some action plans.

We know that neither this meeting nor the ideas expressed are inclusive. Attendees in fact strongly encouraged a more inclusive as well as extended conversation. This first report summarizes responses in the 35 questionnaires distributed and collected at the start of the meeting. In a later report, we hope to share the constructive ideas and concerns expressed during the interaction with the panel and in written comments, including what people said isn’t being paid enough attention in the community. We have posted extended reports in our HPKCC neighborhood website—visit hydepark.org/hpkccnews/Feb18annivkickoff.htm. Readers can arrange to receive a copy by contacting 773 288-8343 or hpkcc@aol.com.

What will steer change?

Attendees and panelists were quite clear on two factors most likely to influence neighborhood direction: 1) the University of Chicago—expansion, actions and plans away from campus, relations, and varieties and quality of collaboration; and 2) the Olympics, should Chicago win the bid.

Other factors often cited: Whether or not we get transportation and parking improvements, the economic and housing crises, 53rd Street—whether or how redeveloped, loss of businesses, kinds and amount of neighborhood-wide redevelopment, rental costs and availability, post-election attention by the world, quality of schools, state of public safety, and development and changes in neighboring communities.

Some thought the following may occur and pose challenges to a strong Hyde Park future: Aging of the population, reduced affordability, local divisiveness, parts of the community not involved, reduction of city services, failure to improve/reform government, level of state and local funding, and loss of local social and other services and nonprofits . (Note: Since the meeting, the state of services and nonprofits has become an immediate neighborhood concern. HPKCC hopes this will receive collaborative attention.)

What’s to nurture or change?

Attendees certainly want to keep-- and have well-kept-up-- our green spaces and lakefront. They also value diversity; open community process; the University as an engine and “helpful elephant”; our institutions, quality buildings, amenities including fairs and events, restaurants and other particular favorite places; high quality police and fire forces, and our faith-based and community organizations.

On the other hand, there are things attendees were not at all comfortable with in Hyde Park, that they wanted changed, or wanted included in the neighborhood mix. The most frequent call was for new thinking about circulation and access-- transit, traffic, parking, sidewalks and intersections. The second was for a larger, better, and well-kept-up retail mix. Also popular were more cultural and artists’ offerings and opportunities, more affordability in housing, more University transparency and positive engagement, and more and inclusive community activism and involvement.

Other areas thought to have room for improvement were: more services and activities for youth and for populations at-risk or with limited abilities and advantages, ways to make the neighborhood more green and sustainable while retaining its character, and more interaction and joint projects among the various segments of the neighborhood, including between residents and students, and between neighborhoods.

We thank all who came and who thoughtfully, often at great length, answered questionnaires and open-end comment forms and asked telling questions of the panel. We also thank our planning and event volunteers-- Nancy Baum, Gwen Bonds, Richard Buchner Jane Comiskey, Jane Ciacci, Trish Morse, and Gary Ossewaarde. We thank keynote speaker James Withrow, who cautioned and challenged from the perspective of past epochs of change in “60 years in 15 minutes,” and panelists Jay Ammerman, Lenora Austin, Ted Fetters, George Davis, Allan Lindrup, Annika Frazier-Muhummad, Bart Schultz, James Withrow, and moderator George Rumsey. Watch for more opportunities to weigh in and to identify tasks that can effectively engage our future.

Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC vice president and for the anniversary committee

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Report #2 to the Public (also in Hyde Park Herald May 22, 2009 in slightly modified form)

A closer look at community challenges and new ideas

This is our second report from the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference community forum held February 18, 2009, “Hyde Park, Challenging the Next Decade,” held as a kickoff for HPKCC’s 60th anniversary year.
Our first report, published in the Hyde Park Herald (April 22) summarized results from about 35 questionnaires turned in by attendees, and focused on what will drive change and what should be kept or changed.

Our second report focuses on reflections of our speakers and audience. Distinct, though often overlapping, sets of needs and what’s important are revealed in these two reports. The conversation was enriched by participation of people from a variety of active organizations and from different demographics.
Keynote speaker James Withrow, posing lessons from previous Hyde Park transformations, suggested:
1) We should make changes gradually because half of what urban planners are now recommending will turn out to be wrong for 2059-- and we don't know which half.
#2) We should gradually revive the former retail corridors of 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue and always endeavor to connect transit to retail.

We invited eight panelists- members of our board and others in the community (neither a cross section nor spokespersons): Jay Ammerman, Lenora Austin, Ted Fetters, George Davis, Allan Lindrup, Annika Frazier-Muhummad, Bart Schultz, and James Withrow.

Audience queries to the panel, from submitted cards and raised hands, revealed these major clusters of challenge or need over the next decade and ideas for new approaches. Naturally, there were distinct takes on each, both from the panel and from the audience. And the same specifics and suggestions kept coming up in different contexts, which cannot be reflected in a brief report.

• Should we bring in more retail, density, arts and artist opportunities? How?

• How do we manage growth and development, and keep both character and dynamism, especially as Olympics and other forces accelerate South Side infill of retail and residential space?

• How do we keep diversity, how do we have affordable spaces for retail and for residents of a range of income levels? What do we want in diversity and affordability, and for whom? Complicating and double-edged factors for such aspirations were discussed: Large rental managers that are upgrading housing stock; the University of Chicago as retail and residential land manager and engine of development; aging and non-green housing and aging population; lack of jobs, including white collar, outside the University.

• Working together: town and gown, students and long-termers, the non-profit community and business. How do we make sure many voices are effectively heard and processes really open? How do we grow collaborations? Can we, should we engage large segments of residents who were said to be less commonly actively involved in the community?

• How can the university best be a helpful ‘elephant”, in Hyde Park and beyond, and how can disagreements with it be resolved? (The university came up more often than any other topic.)

• Specific parts of community life, even those we prize as assets, were said to pose their own challenges—getting around, schools, parks, need for youth activities (or at least knowledge and access to them), and public safety. These led to some of the strongest divergences of opinion, even raised tempers, during the meeting and as the audience hung around after adjournment for over half an hour, in small groups.

One recurring suggestion for moving ahead was creating structures and conversations for keeping ahead of waves of change, possibly via a community plan. People asked for new processes for deciding what we want to be, for bending change to community desires, and for reconciling different visions. Said to be a point of disagreement in the community was whether community goals would be furthered, hurt, or are unrelated to increased density. Some said businesses could be more involved and collaborative, customer-friendly and attractive, and be helped to find more affordable, sustainable space.
Another set of suggestions centered about defining new “cachets” for Hyde Park: “Home of the arts”? “Leading sustainable community”? “Incubator and anchor of nonprofits and small businesses”? People noted that these could be the basis of new synergies with the university.

Watch in the fall for invitations to discussions or collaborative task forces to start addressing some of these challenges and ideas. More complete reports from the forum can be found in www.hydepark.org/hpkccnews/Feb18annivkickoff.htm.

Gary M. Ossewaarde, Vice President, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and the Anniversary Committee

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Reports 1 and 2 as in the July 2009 Conference Reporter

Final Report from the February 18, 2090 HPKCC Annivesary Kickoff Forum, "Hyde Park--Challenging the Next Decade", as in the July 2009 Conference Reporter

HPKCC Kicks Off 60th Year with Future of Hyde Park Forum
By Gary Ossewaarde

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference held a 60th Anniversary kickoff Community Forum, Hyde Park--Challenging the Next Decade, on February 18, 2009. Its questionnaire, panel and audience considered what may most affect or change our neighborhood, and what should be kept or changed, over the next decade.

Many Hyde Parkers have told us over the past year that they think Hyde Park is entering a period of major change and that residents should consider ways to manage, adapt to, or create change—in light of a critical look at what they want Hyde Park to be like and be about. We decided to build upon the community and retail visioning processes of the past two years by holding a future-focused gathering to find out what other matters most need a closer look, perhaps toward a community planning and building process.

We know that neither this meeting nor the ideas expressed are inclusive. They can be the start of a more inclusive and thorough conversation. This part summarizes responses to the questionnaire distributed at the start of the meeting. We have posted more extended reports in our HPKCC neighborhood website—visit hydepark.org/hpkccnews/Feb18annivkickoff.htm. Or call us for hard copies at 773 288-8343 or hpkcc@aol.com.

Attendees and panelists were quite clear on two factors most likely to influence direction: 1) the University of Chicago—on campus expansion, activities and plans off site, community relations and community initiatives and collaboration; and 2) the Olympics, should Chicago win the bid. Other factors frequently mentioned: whether or not we get transportation and parking improvements, the economic and housing crisis, 53rd Street—whether or how redeveloped, kinds and amount of redevelopment, fewer or pressures on businesses, rental costs and availability, Obama effect/attention by the world, quality of schools, state of public safety, and what happens in neighboring communities.

Also, feared as possible occurrences--and not to be ignored for not having lots of mentions: aging population; loss of affordability, or loss of nonprofits and services; local divisiveness; possible reduction of city services/quality or state and local funding; high taxes.

Attendees certainly want to keep and keep up our green spaces and lakefront. They also value diversity; presence and helpfulness of or amenities at the University; open community process; our institutions, quality buildings, festivals and events, restaurants, and other particular favorite places; the high quality of our police and fire forces, and our faith and community organizations and activism.

On the other hand, there are things people are not at all comfortable with in Hyde Park, and some ideas for new things or directions. The largest cluster was a call for new thinking and improvements in circulation and access, from transit and traffic to side and cross walks and parking. The second most cited was need for a larger, better, and well-kept-up retail mix. Also popular were more cultural and artists’ offerings and opportunities, more affordability in housing, more transparency and positive approaches on the part of the University, more community activism and involvement. Also: more services/activities for youth and populations at-risk or with fewer abilities/advantages, ways to make the neighborhood more green/sustainable while keeping character, more interaction and joint projects among the various segments of the population including between residents and students.

A closer look at community challenges and new ideas

So what did our speakers and audience members think? Keynote speaker James Withrow, posing lessons from previous Hyde Park transformations, suggested:

1) We should make changes gradually because half of what urban planners are now recommending will turn out to be wrong for 2059-- and we don't know which half.

2) We should gradually revive the former retail corridors of 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue and always endeavor to connect transit to retail.

We invited eight panelists- members of our board and others in the community (neither a cross section nor acting as spokespersons for their organizations): Jay Ammerman, Lenora Austin, Ted Fetters, George Davis, Allan Lindrup, Annika Frazier-Muhummad, Bart Schultz, and James Withrow.

Audience queries to the panel, from submitted cards and raised hands, revealed these major clusters of challenge or need over the next decade and ideas for new approaches. Note that similar concerns and suggestions came up in different settings.

• Should we bring in more retail, density, arts and artist opportunities? How?
• How do we manage growth and development but keep character and dynamism, especially as Olympics and other forces accelerate South Side infill of retail and residential space?
• How do we keep diversity, how do we have affordable spaces for retail and for residents of a range of income levels? What do we want in diversity and affordability, and for whom? Complicating and double-edged factors for such aspirations were discussed: Large rental managers that are upgrading housing stock; the University of Chicago as retail and residential land manager and engine of development; aging and non-green housing and aging population apart from students; lack of jobs, including white collar outside the University.
• Working together: town and gown, students and long-termers, the non-profit community and business. How do we make sure many voices are effectively heard and processes really open? How do we grow collaborations? Can we, should we engage large segments of residents who were said to be not very actively involved in the community?
• How can the university best be a ‘helpful elephant”, in Hyde Park and beyond, and how can disagreements with it be resolved? (The university came up more often than any other topic.)
• Specific parts of community life, even those we prize as assets, were said to pose their own challenges—getting around, schools, parks, need for youth activities (or at least knowledge and access to them), and public safety. These led to some of the strongest divergences of opinion, even raised tempers, during the meeting and as the audience hung around after adjournment in small groups for over half an hour.

One recurring suggestion for moving ahead was to create structures and conversations for keeping ahead of waves of change, possibly via a community plan. People asked for new processes for deciding what we want to be, for bending change to community desires, and for reconciling different visions. Said to be a point of disagreement in the community was whether community goals would be furthered, hurt, or are unrelated to increased density. Some said businesses could be more involved and collaborative, customer-friendly and attractive, and given more help to find affordable, sustainable space.

Another set of suggestions centered about defining new “cachets” for Hyde Park: “Home of the arts”? “Leading sustainable community”? “Incubator and anchor of nonprofits and small businesses”? People noted that these could be the basis of new synergies with the university.

We thank the attendees, who thoughtfully filled in questionnaires and open-end comment forms and asked telling questions of the panel, and our committee volunteers, especially Nancy Baum, Jane Comiskey, Jane Ciacci, Trish Morse, and Gary Ossewaarde, keynote speaker James Withrow and the panelists including moderator George Rumsey. Watch in the fall for invitations to discussions or collaborative task forces to start addressing some of these challenges and ideas.

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