Archive for October, 2011

Hello Neighbors!!!

My name is Rebecca Zemans. I’m the new Area 5 representative to Alderman Ameya Pawar’s 47th Ward Council. I created this blog so that it will be easier for everyone to find news about meetings, events and general excitement around our lovely neighborhood. In this post I’ve included my notes from the first council meeting on 10.27.11. Please read them below. I also videotaped the meeting which the ward office will be putting on their website and I will link to from our brand new blog! Another great perspective on the meeting is the Center Square Journal’s article by Mike Fourcher.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to represent our wonderful neighborhood. Because this is all very new, please email suggestions to eastravenswoodrep@gmail.com so that we can improve and make our neighborhood the best in the ward:)

I’m looking forward to meeting and working with all of you.

All my best,

Rebecca

Notes from 1st Ward Council meeting:

The goal of this meeting was an orientation to the Ward Council not an opportunity to voice concerns in the ward. Alderman Pawar researched previous models, his goal was to formalize block clubs not based on precinct boundaries. Right now there are 22 block clubs. He is also going to reach out to Senior Centers and Silent Cooperative to send delegates as well.

He considered doing participatory budgeting (like Joe Moore) but he doesn’t want one area to compete with another. His vision is to have us inform him about what is going on in the ward so that we can influence his decisions as an advisory council. He wants us to look for trends so that we can solve the roots of the problem rather than the symptoms.

His goal is to have a real time conversation on the ward council, not a emotional one. He’s looking forward to working together on policy with the Ward Council but said specific things within each area are to be handled at a different time with the ward office. Anyone should feel free to voice their concerns and problems directly with the Ward office. We may dislike or like his final decisions but he wants to formalize the process of the decision making through the Ward Council.

The meetings will be about once a month. We’ll go through the agenda (which will be posted two weeks prior to the meeting) and then open up for questions. There will be a listserv of the delegates so that the conversation can continue virtually through email.

I will be creating fliers at the Ward office to notify people not on our email list of meetings we will be having and how to join it.

Aldermanic Menu

$1.3 million for infrastructure upgrades. They are not planning to repave streets, but they are set to fill potholes in alleys. Apparently there is some pothole filling machine that will come to us soon.

There are many plans in the next ten years to replace 100 year old water manes and Peoples Gas lines. He feels it is inefficient and a waste of funds to repave roads that are going to be torn up for these repairs.

The ward office has created a map of the alley resurfacing. It also showed the cost for each project. The entire alley between Ashland and Paulina will be addressed as will the alley off of Wilson between Paulina and Hermitage. I have let the office know of the other pot holes that have come to my attention.

Maps of construction and timeline of streetscape projects are published on Chicago47.org. Many are planned and others are waiting to get passed through budget but are being planned and designed.

City Budget

There will be a town hall November 2nd to discuss and voice your opinon. It will take place at McPherson Elementary: 4728 N. Wolcott 6:30-8pm.

There will be $420 million in cuts. Major changes that we’ll see will be with service time expectations. For example, 18 months to trim a tree, 76 days to replace garbage bins and 73 days to remove grafitti. He stressed to figure out where we can do things ourselves so that we can get the job done more quickly. e.g grafitti removal. Although the response to CAPS meetings in our area have been spotty, it’s still extremely helpful to be the eyes and ears of our community.  Email the ward and call 311.  Let me know if there are any trends that you are seeing…help everyone keep track of it.

Police Redistricting

71% of the budget is public safety. How resources will be allocated and beats realigned is yet to be determined. Again, he stressed the importance of using our eyes and ears.

50 years ago there were 1 million more people in the city and less police. Today we have more police per capita than most large American cities. Just because we’re cutting some of the budget on public safety doesn’t mean that other things have to get cut too. Again, there will be a harder look at larger systemic problems that have been absorbing cash flow.

311 and 911 response will be different so messaging must be clear and consistent. Merging of police facilities will close the Western and Belmont station. Our officers will be based in Tom Tunney’s ward at Addision and Halsted. This will put more officers on the street and less in the office doing administrative work. He has asked the police to help send messages to the Ward office so that they can better communicate what’s going on to us.

Library

Someone asked about the library cuts. He said that we could find the money to fix the symptom, but there are larger structural problems at play and they need to figure it out to solve the problem and increase efficiency.

Garbage

Pickup with be going to a grid system and will no longer be tied to political boundaries and wards. There will be increased efficiency all across the board. Yay!

Building Community

Among other services cut will be response time to emergencies. He plans to have Emergency Preparedness Seminars for area residents. His belief is that the most resilent neighborhoods happen when people know their neighbors. For example, if you have a generator and you know that your neighbor has refridgerated medicines, in the event of a power outage you can help that neighbor.

Block parties are another great way to get to know your neighbors. He is going to make the porcess easier by getting information to us earlier. December will have a funding opening round and there will be a quicker turnaround.

Larger Vision for the Ward

How do we maintain character of community? Density survival happens around public transit. What are the wards assesst? Where do we want to go forward? Including our green policies?

Zoning

The first thing that they ask investors is to regard the character of the community through architecture and plans. There is a Zoning planning committee but wants to include the council more. This is an area that he really wants to include the council to get our imput and to maintain the integrity of the ward. Zoning decisions and discussions are made public via email. For example, the Lycee Francaise school is using part of the Ravenswood Hospital now.

There are 6 TIFs in the ward. 10% of the money will be returned to the city. We need to figure out how to use the rest of it or we will lose it…

A big development plan still in its discussion phase is the Western Ave. rapid bus service. It will cost approximately $70 million (most of the funds are from the federal government). It will be a short term pain, but wonderful to create density around public transit and efficient use of the space for that will open it up for seniors, mixed income housing which ultimately lessens the tax burden for everyone over time.

Redistricting

200,000 residents of the South and West side have moved out which is going to make all the wards redistrict by shifting a little bit. Ward 47 will only lose about 2000 residents and it will most likely not affect Area 5.

Grow 47

The Alderman’s initiative to enhance community through helping the high schools and other CPS. The trend is that most people leave the neighborhood when their children are in 7th grade and can’t afford private school or their child won’t test into the magnet public schools. He believes that what happened with Coonley and Bell can happen with Lake View High School and Amundsen. Building stronger schools, builds stronger communities because people want to live there.

Former comptroller Dan Hines and Paul Rosenfeld are leading this project. Exciting news about this should be coming out next week.

Non-Digital Residents

I had asked about how we can include more people who don’t use the internet so much. Ward council members can use the photocopier in the office for fliers within reason. And they will be working on ways to get information to those that don’t use the internet like dial in phone messages for updates.