New Eastside residents get senior care officer, raise concerns about valet parking

(Published April 1, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, staff writer

New Eastside residents got to meet a new police official for New Eastside at the March CAPS meeting.

Officer Veronica Meraz, a veteran Chicago officer, is the domestic violence and senior liaison officer for the community.

“I bring a lot of knowledge but I also want to get new ideas,” she said.

She said she hopes residents will volunteer to form domestic violence and senior committees. The senior committee would include members from different buildings to relay information to Meraz about what senior residents might need in terms of aid. From there, Meraz would contact the relevant social service office.

“If you need help with day to day activities, we set that up for you,” Meraz said. “We help you. … We try to visit every building in the district with a large amount of seniors.”

A woman at the meeting said the service is needed.

“We had an elderly lady in our building we were kind of watching over and she fell,” the resident said. “And her kids don’t live here. We were looking out for her but all we had is eyes on her. We had nothing else”

“That’s where we step in and make sure there’s someone checking on her as much as possible,” Meraz said.

The domestic violence committee would help facilitate informational meetings at buildings and distribute literature to victims.

Residents also asked police to talk to III Forks management after they were concerned the  restaurant’s valet service was parking cars illegally along East Benton Place.

“Why can’t the alderman stop this?” a resident asked. “This is every single day.”

A woman pointed out emergency vehicles would not be able to use the narrow streets when cars are parked along the street.

After the meeting, Jeremy Vass, owner of III Forks, said Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office contacted him about concerns and Vass said he will do whatever he can to keep his neighbors happy.

“We are committed to making our presence in the community a positive one,” he said in an email.

Vass said he has instructed his valet service on where they can park, but most of his guests don’t drive to the popular restaurant.

“There are really not that many people that drive here,” he said. “Uber has killed the valet business. Now, there are tons of cars parked illegally all around the park on any given night. Unfortunately, I feel like our valet company in getting the blame for this.”

The next CAPS meeting will be at 130 N. Garland Court April 11 at 6:30 p.m.

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