Archive for November, 2011

Ravenswood Station & Nov. 21 Meeting Notes

Two of the issues that neighbors brought up at last week’s meeting were (1) parking issues due to Ravenswood Metra commuters and (2) the redevelopment of the Sears lot at Lawrence and Ravenswood. Well, Alderman Pawar announced today that there will be a series of community meetings about the proposed Mariano’s grocery store project at that corner, which is sure to affect East Ravenswood. The first meeting is during this Thursday’s monthly Ward Council meeting. If you have time to attend, please come out and share your thoughts. The meeting will be held in our area at All Saints Episcopal Church, 1757 W. Wilson Avenue, 6:45pm. If you can’t make it, feel free to take a look at the developer’s presentation (click here for a pdf). There will be additional meetings on December 15th and 19th. Let me know if you have any questions and concerns you’d like our Ward Council alternate, Linda Wilson, to share with the Alderman on Thursday. (Unfortunately, I have a prior engagement and have to miss it.)

Thanks to East Ravenswood’s Secretary Ray Ballard, we have minutes from last week’s Area 5 meeting. Click here (EastRavenswood_Nov21 Minutes) to download the recap as a formatted Word document, or read it below. If there’s anything we missed, please let us know!

Area #5 East Ravenswood Meeting Recap

Nov 21, 2011
4550 North Hermitage Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

1. Attendance and Introductions:

a.   Over 20 people attended the meeting and were introduced

b.   Rebecca Zemans, our Area #5 Representative provided her background.

2. Agenda:

a.   Review Alderman Pawar’s October 27th Ward Council meeting.

b.   Discuss current “Issues” to bring to December Ward Council meeting.

c.    Brainstorm “Fun Ideas” for Area #5.

3. Review of Ward 47 Council Oct meeting:

a.   Rebecca provided an overview of the Ward Council meeting, as well as the City Budget Town Hall. Both reviews may be found on the East Ravenswood Blog (

b.   There are 22 areas in our ward; ~1500 people in our area.

c.    Important to continue expanding the membership of each Area group.

d.   The budget town hall was heated, with approximately 20 attendees.

4. Issues in Area #5:

a.   Issues are to be “big picture,” not “nit-picking” at small items (potholes, etc.) unless it is a widespread problem.

b.   Permit Parking:

i.     Streets were re-permitted across the area recently. Several ideas were discussed:

1.   Weekday 9-11AM permitting to necessitate permits for commuters parking near the Metra station

a.   This had mixed reviews. Some felt it would alleviate the parking misuse by Metra users while allowing neighbors and guests to use temporary permits if need be.

b.   Several said this would negatively impact neighbors with atypical work schedules by necessitating they spend money on the permits to park. Complaint that temporary permits expire so quickly it makes planning difficult.

c.    Would this help with winter parking when snow is present? Snow parking (people reserving spots) is an issue.

2.   The neighborhood relationship with the Romanian Church on for residents of 4400-4600 N Paulina is very strained.

a.   Parking permit rules not followed and need enforcement. Parking is never available. Law enforcement reluctant to ticket church goers. From their perspective: This is the only Romanian church in the city, 2500+ families go there.

3.   What is happening with the Sears parking garage (out of Area #5)?

a.   Unclear what it is used for. Could this be used for commuter parking for the Metra?

c.    Rats:

i.     Rats were an issue that many recollected with no clear resolution.

d.   Tags/Graffiti

i.     A clear distinction was made between “tags” and “graffiti”

1.   “Tags” are considered (illegal) artwork or artist signatures, while “Graffiti” is gang/crime related.

2.   Recent reports of spray paint were “tags” but are still illegal

ii.     With city budgets for spray paint (tags/graffiti) removal in decline, able residents are encouraged to use turpentine (and other methods recommended by the city) to remove it in a more timely manner (wait time for city removal is significant).

e.   Crime

i.     In relation to the “tagging” and other crimes, residents complained about the significant lack of police presence

ii.     Several residents recollected robberies, particularly of vehicles

iii.     CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) meetings

1.   Only a few residents attended the last CAPS meeting to discuss issues with police officers, but different officers attend each quarterly meeting making accountability for improvement very difficult. The Alderman should request the same officers attend each meeting.

2.   Officers put the accountability for safety back on residents because we lack a clear list of issues with firm neighborhood support.

3.   More organization is needed in our CAPS meetings

4.   Mary Stamler is our representative, but needs others to boost attendance

5.   A safety committee may be formed to better organize in alerting residents of recent incidents, as well as following up with CAPS meetings.

6.   Next CAPS meeting is February. We should be prepared.

f.     Senior Audit

i.     We will be planning a method to determine where seniors live in our area so we can better serve them in severe weather.

1.   Grocery and medication shopping for seniors during snowy weather was considered a possibility.

ii.     The Alderman would like to find ways to keep them in our ward.

iii.     It was suggested we use our new flyer communication network to visit houses. We will consider how to do this better.

5. Fun Ideas

a.   Block parties and rummage sales in the spring

b.   A “Winterfest” or “Snow Saturday” to collectively shovel following a snowstorm.

i.     City budgets for snow removal will be down. This could be a more fun way to collectively improve the streets.

ii.     Encourage kids to set up hot chocolate stands, shovel for seniors, etc.

c.    Once-a-year spring cleaning and planting day would be fun.

6. Roles

a.   Rebecca Zemans is our Representative, Linda Wilson is our Alternate representing Area #5 to the 47th Ward Council

b.   Ray Ballard has been acting as Secretary and will continue to serve that role

c.    A leader to plan a large block party on Ravenswood (with a concert?) on would be great in the summer

d.   Safety committee names will be solicited

7. Wrap-up/Club Actions

a.   Meetings will likely be monthly on Mondays, 7PM at All Saints. The location worked well for all attendees.

b.   Gary volunteered to be the flyer distributor for his block.

c.    Future meeting could discuss zoning

i.     for the (likely delayed or cancelled) 4-story building proposal for Ravenswood and Wilson, as well as zoning of the to-be-build mansion in the Area. Discuss zoning with Alderman to understand his preferences?

ii.     Perhaps urban farming/gardens could be built?

d.   A Safety Committee will be formed and members solicited

e.   A Senior Audit will need organizing to better determine senior needs

f.     A “Winterfest” or “Snow Saturday” leader may be solicited

8. Adjournment

Join us!

Hello East Ravenswood Neighbors,
Come meet your neighbors at our next Neighborhood meeting this coming Monday, November 21 at All Saints Episcopal Church 4550 North Hermitage Avenue at 7pm. We’re looking forward to seeing you there.
The most important item on the agenda is preparing for the upcoming Ward Council meeting. You can read the agenda for the upcoming Ward Council meeting by clicking here: Agenda for 2nd Ward Council Meeting. East Ravenswood’s Ward Council representative, Rebecca Zemans and alternate Linda Wilson will be on hand to brief us on the last Ward Council meeting and listen to your thoughts on a variety of issues. They will then share neighbors’ thoughts, questions, and concerns with the Alderman and the larger Ward Council the following week.
This month, the Ward Council will be particularly focused on:
  • permit parking
  • transportation
  • development
  • needs (from the Alderman’s office) for the neighborhood associations
  • senior citizens

CAPS meeting Recap, Beat 1922

There were about 10 citizens in attendance and two officers. The officers handed out a lot of brochures regarding safety and crime prevention. Here’s what the officers of beat 1922 had to say:

Out of the 9383 arrests in the city, 45 were made in our beat since the last CAPS meeting in August.

All crimes are down this year except for robbery and theft. The officers said that with the holidays coming and the economy continuing to be down, we need to exert extra awareness and common sense. Have packages mailed with a signature confirmation helps prevent theft from porches.

Use your eyes and ears. Don’t assume someone else is calling about the crime. Even if they are you should call, too! The more tips, the more the police are aware. They would rather get 20 calls than none.

Ways to tip the police:

  • Call: 311 for police non-emergencies like filing a police report after a crime has occurred and the offender is gone. For example, if your bike was stolen or if you discovered someone has vandalized your house or garage while you were out. Also call 311 to report other service needs as well such as garbage cans, potholes and alley lights.
  • Call 911 only when the there is an emergency or if you see a crime in progress. If you wish to remain anonymous to the police when calling 911, you must request it to the dispatch every time you call.
  • Text: The CPD created the TXT2TIP program so that citizens can anonymously and safely help rid our community of crime by sending information directly to the department via a text message from a cellular phone.

Here’s how to text CPD:

1. Make a new text or SMS text

2. Enter 274637 (CRIMES) in the “To” line

3. In the message box, type the word CPD, a space and then your crime tip information.

4. Hit “send”

CPD offers cash rewards of up to $1000 for information leading to an arrest.

Another tip for crime prevention: The police were able to clear 25 theft cases by people engraving their information in an inconspicuous place on TVs, computers, and other expensive household items with a license number. You can borrow one from the police station. They said you’d be surprised how often things turn up.

The new district office will cover Lake to River Fullerton to Lawrence with it’s headquarters on Halsted and Addison. There will be 400 officers, which is the combined force of the two districts.

Tagging is part of living in the city. With budget cuts, Graffiti Blasters will be slowing down their response time. The officers suggested trying Goo Gone, turpentine, or other paint removers. Depending on what surface material the vandalism occurred, different procedures may be necessary.

The next Beat 1922 CAPS meeting is tentatively scheduled for February 15th, 2012. Meetings will be held quarterly. If you have any questions or concerns before the next meeting please contact the Community Policing office at 312.744.5574. If it is an emergency or  there is a crime in progress please call 911.

CAPS meeting tonight and Notes from Budget Town Hall on 11.2.11

Join us tonight to make our neighborhood safer. There is a CAPS meeting at CHASE PARK 4701 N Ashland @ 7pm. To learn more about how CAPS works, please click here.

Notes from Budget Town Hall Meeting 11.2.11

Nothing is final til the council agrees Dec. 31. Pawar wants to come up with consistent practice standard in budget and spending. Sustainability issue, what does it look like?

Ideally the Alderman is looking to go for mulit-year budgets with reductions and additions. Looking at trends instead of annually and trying to keep up every year and having only a few weeks to decide yearly There were two main issues on the table that night: the library and police redistricting.

The general sentiment from the Aldermans was that there’s not that much money left from the parking meters and not enough to go around. E.g. Library building from tif funding and general obligation bonds is for construction not for capital and admin staff because of the bylaws it is funded differently. There is no federal funding for local libraries, even the superintendant of the library thought that’d be nice. There focus of TIF money is to be used to solve long term problems, band aids only work so long.
Library is giving lots of ideas to
the council.
Someone asked, what are other avenues to help the library? Foundation? Volunteering?

Reply: $10 for one child for summer, rebalance workforce, and new operating costs. Volunteers need to be approved by union.


71% goes to public safety. Every interest group needs to take a haircut.

Everyone wants to protect their own.

One constituent got up to say lived here his entire life. He said we have a la la land. 20 years ago gangs were all over the ward. Pulling the police district is the worst possible idea. He’s worried about a spike in armed robberies and gang violence. It’s what people will hang over Pawars head if he lets it happen. If it doesnt get fought for now, we’ll lose it forever.

To paraphrase Alderman Pawar response: “I’m not going to jump up and down. District 23 is closer to most of the ward than 19. Combining admin will have more beats on the street. Police do not respond from the building only from the street. Buildings don’t protect. An attachment to the building doesn’t mean better service.”

The police in attendance continued…”Police Districts 19 and 23 will be consolidated. It will have the third most personnel in the city. They will be combined not removed. All they’re doing is putting more police on the street.
The 19th district building that will be used, just differently for detectives and other operations.”

For more information about the police redistricting, I go into detail in my first post on this blog in the notes from the ward council meeting.

Other ways to save money?
Taxes won’t be enough…

1. Green alleys: Layer sediment on permeable surface in midline of alley. Flood damage and cost can be mitigated. Pawar wants citywide program, Chicago Innovation fund is getting started to consolidate many of these issues.

2. 20 million goes to long term savings, state law dictates surplus must go to education but it goes citywide. Pawar wants to partner TIF funding with schools in ward.

3. Garbage to grid system. Changing it will be more efficient centrally managed and not lose money when the trucks are waiting. Losing about $100 a ton which will add up to 20 million dollars of savings.  Condo associations…

4. Cell phones have made tax revenue gone down from less land lines use.

Someone asked about Teen programs? After school matters, etc.

Pawar: How can it be sustainable? The money for those programs is going to shrink in the next 5-10years

Someone mentioned the American Indian Center. Nonprofits have to start paying for water, a subsidy that the city can’t afford. 50 kids go to after school program saving society a lot of money by helping them stay in school, go to college. 90% very low income with single parent household. Not graduating high school is more detrimental to society in long term. Why not give money to make them more successful?  Just moving money around doesn’t fix anything…

Are the cuts sustainable?
$606 million deficit

$400 million in cuts and structural changes, refinancing of debt and TIF surplus.

$80 million from where?
A few other ideas.
Suburbs that havent been paying their bills for water.

Not using long term reserves to pay.

Property 2015 property tax increase because of pensions.

Union negotiations coming up too which will hurt.

Layoffs? Union negotiations make it difficult. People who make more than $100,000 should be giving some back.

Pawar: “Everyone needs to come to the table, everyone needs to take a hit”

Pawar, will the collective bargaining units come to the table? There are serious legal implications.

Someone else asked about the Recycling Rebate. The alderman said that it is probably going to be chopped for condo buildings. They’re always behind. Some things we pay a la carte for things like private school. It will be $11-12 million to cover it, probably unlikely to remain…It was a Vrdoliak and Burke legislation he’s not sure where its going.

To conclude:

Pawar said,
“This has been coming for 20 years. Where have we been? With parking meters, skyway…We have to live within our means, not worried about long term political gains, he wants to make the city more sustainable.”

He continued, “Hold your elected officials accountable. Contact them, be vocal. It may look good outside but it came at a cost to others, now we’ll be paying for social services for the rest of the city.”

The Alderman said, “Thank you for coming out, it helps us know where everyone is so we can move forward. Its okay to be upset with me, that’s what I’m here for.
Please be in touch with the office so they can know how these cuts effect you. Getting involved will protect the community the most…

So I say please join us tonight for the CAPS meeting:)

Upcoming Budget and Policing Town Halls

East Ravenswood Neighbors,

As you may or may not know, the budget is on the table. To voice your opinion:

Please join Ald. Pawar for a Town Hall on the budget tomorrow, November 2nd, 6:30 -8pm

McPherson Elementary, 4728 N Wolcott Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

Library Commissioner Dempsey will be in attendance to answer your questions on
the proposed Library budget.  There will also be a representative from the Chicago
Police Department to answer your questions about the merger of the 19th District
with the 23rd District.

To learn more about the budget before the meeting, visit

If you want to learn more about the changes in the Police Department, here’s your chance:

Ravenswood Community Council will also be hosting a Policing and Public Safety Meeting with Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Alderman Ameya Pawar on November 7 at the Sulzer Library Auditorium from 6-8pm. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the merging of the 19th and 23rd police district stations. Both Commanders will be present as well.

This is an opportunity to hear why the merge was chosen and ask questions regarding your concerns and expectations as residents in the 19th or 23rd Districts.

The next CAPS meeting for Area 5 is Wednesday November 9th at 4701 N. Ashland Ave.

If you want more frequent updates directly from the Alderman’s office, please sign up for their weekly e-newsletter go to: