Archive for July, 2008

Uptown Public Safety Meeting

Rep. Greg Harris – July 31, 2008

Uptown Public Safety Meeting

Last night Sen. Heather Steans and I hosted a Town Hall meeting on public safety in Uptown. Having attended numerous CAPS and block club meetings in recent weeks and after hearing from the Uptown business community as well as individual concerned citizens, Sen. Steans and I decided we had to come together as an entire community to address the recent spikes in crime in Uptown.

The meeting was attended by well over 400 people from every walk of life in Uptown. It was an impressive crowd representing the diversity of Uptown: young and old, lifelong residents and new arrivals, gay and straight, rich and low income folks, owners and renters, businesspeople and social service short, the entire rainbow that makes Uptown a desirable neighborhood to live and work in.

Everyone was concerned about the recent shooting incidents and the apparent uptick in gang activity. Everyone was also concerned about pulling together as a community to increase enforcement, assist the police, provide better alternatives for youth, enhance the business environment and make all residents feel safer on the streets and in our parks.

Sen. Steans and I chaired the meeting. Participating in the panel were 23rd District Commander Kathy Boehmer, 23rd District Tactical Lieutenant Robert Stasch, Deputy Chief of Patrol Bruce Rottner, Deputy Police Superintendent Bea Cuello and Ald. Schulter’s Chief of Staff Dan Luna. Attending the meeting were 46th Ward Ald. Helen Shiller, Ald. Smith’s Chief of Staff Doug Fraser and 46th Ward Streets and San Superintendent Don Nowotny.

After two hours of compelling testimony including business owners, building managers, moms whose children had been lured into gangs, parents whose children and grandchildren have been exposed to violence, service providers and dozens of others, it was clear that people learned a lot, wanted to learn more and wanted to work together on community-wide solutions to problems. Broad themes of the areas identified to address include:

Better communication within the community

Increased participation in CAPS beat meetings to identify crime hotspots

Increased police presence, including saturation presence following incidents

More positive activities for area youth

Focus on eliminating negative activities like public drinking/drugging, gang loitering, etc.

More cameras on the streets, buildings and in the parks to deter criminal activities

Police presence on foot, bicycling or using Segways in the area

Closer working relationships between major neighborhood organizations, elected officials, public and private institutions

Focus on securing schools, parks and playlots

As a next step, Sen. Steans and I will be convening a meeting of leaders of key stakeholders in the Uptown community including elected officials, community and business organizations, social service providers, youth service agencies, the Chicago Police Department and others. We will go through the pages of notes and recommendations made at the Town Hall meeting and begin to develop strategies and plans for moving forward.

Following the Uptown leadership meetings, we will convene another Town Hall meeting to present ideas and strategies for discussion by the community, and seek support and participation from the entire neighborhood.

Many, many thanks to the hundreds of people who attended and participated in last night’s meeting. Heather and I look forward to working with the community to continue to make Uptown one of the City’s most desirable and safest neighborhoods.

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Community Meetings

In response to recent violence, two meetings have been scheduled:

1. Thursday, 7/24, at 7 p.m. Emergency meeting of FORUM (Friends Organizing to Repair Uptown’s Mismanagement) at Kahawa Coffee House (838 West Montrose).

Owner will provide free coffee (they also have lattes, smoothies, pastries that, while not free, are nonetheless delicious!).

2. Community Safety Meeting with State Senator Heather Steans, State Rep. Greg Harris, and 23rd District Police Commander

Wednesday, July 30
6:30 p.m.
Truman College Cafeteria

Please plan on attending at least one of these meetings!

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Wilson Yard

What’s going on & Why You should care

There’s big equipment and lots of dirt blowing all over Sheridan Park from Wilson Yard.  We’ve learned that the toxic soil located in Wilson Yard is going through a quasi-cleanup.   Levels of lead, sometimes 1000x higher than recommended human health safety levels, asbestos and arsenic are being partially being removed to make way for the low income buildings for families and seniors.

The last community meeting on Wilson Yard was held in October of 2004 when Holsten, the lone developer, announced  to an over-flow crowd of more than 400, that the mixed-income housing was giving way to all low-income because, “the numbers just didn’t pencil in.” Since then, the movie theaters pulled out, Target has yet to sign one single piece of paper to confirm they’re coming to Wilson Yard and now the construction crews are racing the clock to lay the subsidized housing foundation to bring at least 500 more low-income residents  to what was promised to be a “vibrant and cohesive mixed-use, mixed-income development.”

Wilson Yard plans now include:

  • 97-units of housing for extremely-low, very-low, and low income residents.
  • CHA residents moving from other CHA developments being torn down will be given priority.
  • 100-unit senior building managed by Holsten after Catholic Charities and Providence pull out .
Cost of the family housing units are $447,000
Cost of senior housing units are $337,000.
Your tax-payer contribution has ballooned to $54 Million !

Just how will bringing this failed housing model to a community already struggling with the problems emanating from almost 6,000 subsidized housing units impact our lives?

There will be more information forthcoming on how residents will be actively addressing the problems with Wilson Yard.

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Gang Gunfire scatters pedestrians on Wilson & Malden this hot afternoon!

People walking near Wilson and Malden a little after 2 pm on this hot Tuesday afternoon were shocked into taking cover when gunfire erupted on this busy street. The gang warfare has been the worst our community has seen in more than a decade–with the Black P-Stone rangers who roam Sheridan Park fighting with their rival gangs including the Vice Lords who claim Clarendon Park as their territory.

See GWNA News for more!

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