East Ravenswood Neighbors, Ward 47, Area 5, September 10, 2012 Minutes.
What a wonderful meeting! Thanks so much for those who attended. We had a great turnout. Thanks also to Alderman Pawar for joining us to explain many of the concerns our neighbors raised in the past few months.
After introductions, I talked about the other Councils that the Alderman is forming like the Senior Council, Green Council, and Quality of Life Council. If you are interested in joining these or others councils to advise the Alderman, please contact Dara in the Ward office. She can be reached at email@example.com.
I also mentioned the Block Buddies. These are people who would like to gather phone numbers of people with disabilities, seniors, or others with special needs to disseminate information or check in if there is an emergency like a power outage, snow storm for snow removal, or high heat index. If you are interested in learning more on how to help your neighbors, please let me know.
Alderman Pawar spoke about many items that affect our neighborhood:
1. Crime and Safety: We live in one of the safest Wards in the city. If anything, the crime challenges are property damage, robberies, graffiti, etc—not many violent crimes. The grafitti removal has changed to a grid system so it doesn’t get taken care of all the time, but it does get removed more efficiently. If there is hate speech or gang tags near a school or church, that will be taken care of immediately. Neighbors can report any graffiti to 311.
2. Lycee Francais: They’ve begun asbestos removal from the hospital and the demolition will continue slowly. The entire building will come down in the next 90 to 120 days. By spring it will be a fenced-in gravel lot. The school is set to open in 2015.
3. Mariano’s/Ravenswood Station: The development is set to go through City Council in October. Once approved, they will have a year turnaround to get the grocery store in place. There will also be an LA Fitness or Bally’s on the property. The Metra station itself is a $215 million project funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The new station will include a covered waiting area and probably a concession stand. Construction will continue for a lengthy period. For updates on the Metra construcion please, visit the Ward website here.
4. Lawrence Avenue Streetscape: The stretch of Lawrence between Clark and Western has been a dead zone for businesses and retail for years. Cars speed through and people have been injured. To slow traffic, they are going to widen the sidewalks and decrease the number of lanes to two with a shared middle turn lane. They are also going to add 250 trees and pave with permeable pavers to increase pedestrian traffic, which will increase economic development to the area. They are striving to make it more like Clark St. in Andersonville. Changes will happen during the next 3-5 years. To learn more about this project, please click here.
5. Parking Permits: Because there are only 80-90 parking spots per block, there will never be enough parking spaces in the neighborhood. If you feel there is a large impact to parking on your block and want to add permits, you can to petition your block. At least 65% of neighbors need to sign on. You can find instructions and petitions on the Ward website here.
We also had a Q&A with the Alderman.
Question (from neighbor): What about the 50-90% increase in property tax that is being discussed downstate?
Answer (from Pawar): If it happens, it is a tax that will be applied only to the city portion of the tax, so only about one-quarter of your bill would be affected. This increase is being discussed as a solution to the unfunded pension liabilities statewide. The pension system needs to be rethought with a solution that makes sense–not one based on an 8% annual return in the stock market where pensions are invested. City officials thought that it would be okay, because of the predicted revenue from the Olympics, but that didn’t happen so now government workers have invested their income in pensions that may not play out.
Q: East/West across Lawrence, how will the streetscape make it easier?
A: The speed limit is only 20 mph and people speed. There are bottlenecks at both Clark and Western, so it will spread those out. There will be a bike infrastructure added, including a new bike rental at Ravenswood Station. Also, bus rapid transit will increase in the next 5-7 [years/months?]. This is all an effort for people to use cars less when travelling within the city, which will decrease congestion and increase quality of life.
Q: What about changes to the bus routes? Is the 145/148 really being rerouted?
A: I don’t agree with the changes. I am trying very hard not to eliminate the Lincoln #11. It mostly affects people with disabilities, fixed income, seniors, and students. CTA is trying to eliminate duplicative service to save money. They are voting this Wednesday. You can voice your concerns here: Or by going to the Board Meeting here:
Q: Can the new grid system (which is wonderful) be more predictable with the recycling bins? Maybe we can go to a 1st and 3rd week? Also where do we recycle our electronics if the one place in the ward has closed?
A: Great suggestion. We’ll look into that. The one issue is that if someone doesn’t show up to work, it kind of throws the whole schedule off. But it’s a new system and we’re working out the kinks, so thanks for your suggestion. Too much trash was dropped off at the recycling centers. There are recycling events that happen throughout neighboring wards as well as ours. We will get better at disseminating that information to you with more advanced warning, but sometimes they just spring up.
Q: What about fixing alley potholes?
A: Bill in the Ward Office has a 2012 schedule for alley repairs. Rebecca will post it on the blog soon.
Q: What about the Montrose & Hermitage lot? What’s happening?
A: It’s going to be a single-family home. The timeline is unclear.
Q: What about the lot at Wilson and Ravenswood? Eight years ago there were meetings about a 24-unit condo building going in, what is the status of that?
A: It’s still on the table and should be moving forward soon. In a future block club meeting we will bring the developer in.
Q: There seems to be a lot more flooding near street corners. Is there something we can do about it?
A: There are actually a few fixes:
- Don’t sweep leaves into streets, it clogs the drains. If you see leaves blocking the drain, please remove them.
- Don’t build building lot lines to lot line. The more green space, the more area that can absorb the increasing heavy rains.
- Blocks can get rain barrels. They cost about $60 and the city will reimburse people 50% of the cost. Maybe this is something that the neighborhood can do together? There is a city program that will help people install them.
- Rooftop or garage-top gardens add green space to absorb heavy rains.
So that’s the Q&A. If there is anything you’d like to see at future meetings or have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, the next meeting will be at the end of October. We’re finalizing the date and will look forward to talking about Halloween safety and have a representative from the Friends of Ravenswood Elementary.