Advisory Council formed to oversee DuSable Park development

By B. David Zarley, Staff Writer

May 31, 2018

 

The DuSable Park Advisory Council was officially formed on May 9 in the Lake Shore Park field house – marking another promising step in the star-crossed history of the park’s development.

Members of the newly former DuSable Park Advisory Council (l-r: Dr. Serge JC Pierre-Louis, Russell Lewis, Fhaeem Majeed, Peggy Montes) meet in the field-house of Lake Shore Park during the formation meeting on May 9, 2018. Photo by Gené Moreno.

 

The parcel of land between the entrance of the Ogden Slip and the mouth of the Chicago River was designated as DuSable Park in 1987 by Mayor Harold Washington, but the plan never developed. A separate plan by the Park District to turn the spot into an outdoor parking lot in 2000 galvanized the formation of the DuSable Park Coalition, some of whose members are now part of the new DuSable Park Advisory Council (PAC). High levels of radioactive thorium from the former operations of the Lindsay Light Company delayed progress.

“We’ve been working at this for almost two decades,” said Dr. Serge JC Pierre-Louis, president of the DuSable Heritage Association and chair of the DuSable Park Coalition, while speaking to the assembled stakeholders. Attendees included Streeterville residents, SOAR, members of Friends of DuSable, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum, Alderman Reilly’s office, the Floating Museum and representatives from other local PACs.

Peggy Montes of the Bronzeville Children’s Museum motioned to form the DuSable Park Advisory Council at the evening meeting, with Russell Lewis of Friends of DuSable seconding. With support from several new members, the PAC was officially formed.

The new PAC is made up of 11 members –Montes, Lewis, Pierre-Louis, Paul Montes, Robert Starks, Dave and Carol Hinman, Faheem Majeed, Mario Holleman, Gail Spreen and Bernie Jacobs.

For the Hinmans, two Streeterville residents who live adjacent to the proposed park site, membership in the advisory council marks the first time they have joined a park organization.“We’re really excited,” Carol Hinman said. “In fact, when we bought there we thought ‘oh, someday we’ll have a park right there.’”

Local pubs to open early for World Cup fans

By Matthew Reiss | Community Contributor

With soccer’s World Cup returning June 14, all eyes will be glued to TV screens around the
country—despite the U.S. team’s shockingly early exit from the tournament.

Over three billion people worldwide watched the 2014 Brazil World Cup, with public viewings in Chicago set up in Grant Park and Soldier Field drawing tens of thousands of local fans.

This year, without the U.S. team to root for and with the games primarily airing in the morning due to the time difference with host country Russia, it will be more difficult for soccer fans, such as myself, to find public venues to watch games.

But never fear—for the truly dedicated fan, there are still ways to get your World Cup fix in Chicago.

Fado Irish Pub, 100 W. Grand Ave., has been a hotspot for European soccer league coverage, and will be opening its doors early for each and every World Cup match. They are also available to book for group watch parties.

Upscale sports bar Theory, 9 W. Hubbard St., is also committing to World Cup coverage. Managing Partner Joel Sorinsky said that Theory will show all games kicking off after 9 a.m., and brunch will be available on every game day.

The Globe Pub, 1934 W. Irving Park Rd., has long been a site for supporters of the Chicago Fire MLS team, including their Pub to Pitch shuttle service to and from home games. The Globe is currently remodeling, but General Manager Megan Kosmensky said that they’ll be reopening with upgraded screens and amenities the week before the Cup.

They will be showing every game, and will allow children accompanied by adults to come to viewings of the first round matches.

Fans can stay close to home with some residential buildings offering special viewing events. The Aqua in New East- side, 225 N. Columbus Drive, will open its media room—complete with theater seating—to residents for every match of the tournament.

Published June 5, 2018

Rules of the River: What you need to know to safely navigate the Chicago River

By Brian Zarley | Staff Writer

Patience, planning and keeping your head on a swivel—according to Chief Warrant Officer Matthew James, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, that’s what boaters need to remember to safely navigate the Chicago River.

That, and their life jackets. While the constant stream of boats can seem chaotic and intimidating, there is a method to the madness.

“If you basically picture it like a big highway, that’s generally what the river breaks down to,” said Captain Gabe Argumedo, who has been piloting Chicago’s First Lady on the river for 10 years, and working on it for 14. “The most important thing on the river is to keep that traffic flowing.”

Whether going up or down the river, boaters should keep to the right—or starboard—side. Slower traffic and smaller vessels should stay further right allowing the larger, faster commercial vessels to safely pass them. This also frees up the slightly deeper middle of the river for larger vessels. Unless in an emergency, boaters should not drop anchor. Keeping the boats moving helps ensure a safe and efficient flow for everyone on the river.

While traveling, boaters need to maintain a safe speed—the river is a no-wake zone—and pay attention to the flow of traffic around them. “You shouldn’t be going so fast that you can’t stop your vessel and avoid a collision if one became imminent,” James said.

The locks have an order for loading, Argumedo said. Commercials vessels are first priority, followed by government, recreational, and then cargo and fishing boats.

Boaters should wait to the north side of the turning basin for the lock chambers to clear. A system of signal lights—red means no traffic; yellow means commercial vessels may enter; green means recreational vessels can enter—tells boaters when to steam into the basin. Recreational boaters should be aware that the current is particularly strong this year, especially going from the river to the lake, due to the difference in water level, Argumedo said.

Life jackets are required once a boat enters the locks. The Coast Guard strongly recommends their use at all times, especially with the cold waters of the river and Lake Michigan. “We try to draw the equivalent between a life jacket and a seatbelt,” James said.

Navigation lights are crucial for safely traveling on the river, even with the bright lights of downtown. In fact, the glare and abundance of light sources can make spotting a boat—or a boat’s lights—even more difficult.

“They’re extremely important,” Argumedo said. “That is going to tell us exactly what kind of a boat, or what direction they are going, versus not having lights at all.”

With common sense, traffic awareness and vessel vigilance, boaters can make the most of their time on the water.

Published June 5, 2018

Non-profits care for feral cats

The cats return the favor by hunting rats

By Taylor Hartz and Angela Gagnon | Staff Writers

Local building staff are reminding residents not to feed or approach feral cats that may be spotted in Lakeshore East Park. Although these cats may look like strays that are in need of some TLC, they are well cared for. Many of the cats, and all of those with their ears marked, are regularly fed and given housing and shelter by non-profits as part of the feral cats ordinance.

If you aren’t familiar with this law, here’s the scoop—in September 2007, Cook County passed the Managed Care of Feral Cats ordinance, allowing non-profit organizations to care for feral cats in the county using Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) programs, with the goal of managing their population numbers.

Several of thse feral cats were introduced into the Lake Shore East Park this winter by the Lakeshore East Masters Association with one particular job in mind. According to Magellan Development Group Community Relations Director Vanessa Casciano, the program was brought to Lakeshore East as way to thwart rat populations in the neighborhood.

“We found this method of pest control is being used in other parts of the city as well as nationwide so we thought [the program] would be a good fit for our Lakeshore East neighborhood,” she said.

Locals have noticed the feral cats in the Park. “I was surprised to see a gray cat limping in the park as we don’t [usually] have strays in this area,” said Lakeshore East resident Zareen Gauhar. “My first thought was the cat was abandoned, but I found out they are brought in to deal with the rats. I was concerned for their safety and also given the freezing cold windy weather we have in the Chicago area.”

Buckingham resident Erica Meyer also shared concerns. “As an animal advocate, this is beyond horrible. I’ve never heard of this type of resolution before. It feels to me like the safety issues aren’t being taken seriously,” she said.

Open cages with camouflaged covers have been placed under trees on the east side of the park allowing the cats to come and go as they please. The cages are within an area that is currently fenced off. Feral cats live outdoors and are not socialized with humans, so are unlikely to react like a normal house cat when they are approached.

Through TNR programs, non-profits like PAWS Chicago, Tree House and Triple R Pets provide care services for the cats. Deemed “cat colony caretakers,” these organizations take the cats to be spayed or neutered and get them vaccinated. Other care may also include parasite treatment, re-homing services, microchipping and feeding.

Feral cats that receive this care are distinguished by being “ear-tipped” so future trappers know they have been neutered and are being cared for, according to a press release from PAWS Chicago. Since 2008, there has been a 41 percent drop in the number of cats in the county. According to PAWS, 18,000 cats have been sterilized.

The TNR program is designed to counter a traditional “Trap and Kill” method. According to PAWS, TNR is “the most humane and progressive way to manage these colonies and control overpopulation.”

Anyone with questions about feral cats in Lake Shore East Park can contact Vanessa
Casciano (312) 642-8869. All community calls and complaints to 311 regarding feral cats are directed to sponsoring organizations that care for the colonies.

Published on May 3

Private security hired to patrol Lakeshore East

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

In late February, the Lakeshore East Master Association announced in an email to residents that they had hired Monterrey Security, a private security firm, to provide the Lakeshore East area with a safety ambassador, who will act as a deterrent against crime in the neighborhood.

Security guard Jequan Lewis, will patrol on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Residents will be able to identify the new safety ambassador by the bright red
jacket he wears with the words “Monterrey Security” written on the front and back.

The email also described the ambassador’s responsibilities. He can be used as a walking escort, act as a witness in any crime he observes, liaise between the community and the police, and make suggestions on how to improve safety in the area. He will also act as a customer service agent and can answer questions about amenities, events, and businesses in the area and he will be able to report on any issues that concern residents, such as
graffiti, suspicious activity, and damaged signs or lampposts.

The Association stressed in the emails that the ambassador is not the police and is unable to make arrests, but rather serves as an extension of the eyes and ears for police and can be in contact with the police as he makes his rounds. If a resident feels unsafe or sees a crime being committed they are advised to call 911.

Monterrey Security has many contracts in Chicago, including with Soldier Field, Lincoln Park Zoo, Navy Pier, and the annual Lollapalooza music festival, according to their website.

As of the time of printing, the Lakeshore East Master Association and Monterrey Security had not responded to requests for further information.

Salvation Army Saturdays in Lakeshore East

By Taylor Hartz,

Published March 4, 2018

Is your closet or home feeling a little cluttered? Need to make room for a new Spring and Summer wardrobe? Combine spring cleaning with doing a good deed this season and donate to the Salvation Army.

This year, donating your used clothes, furniture and home goods won’t include trekking bags full of items to the closest store or drop center. In fact, you won’t have to go further than Lakeshore East.

Magellan Property Management has arranged for monthly Salvation Army pick ups in Lakeshore East, at Field Boulevard and South Water Street in front of the construction site for the upcoming Wanda Vista building. 

Local property managers are hoping to make donating a part of the community in the New Eastside – Aqua Apartments issued a statement on Facebook in January encouraging New Eastsiders to “make 2018 the year of generosity.”

On the first Saturday of every month, a sizable Salvation Army truck will be parked in the neighborhood from 9 a.m. to noon, accepting donations from locals.

On Saturday Feb. 3, Jimmy Smith from Salvation Army stood inside the truck, marked with the words “Donate Goods (Do Good)” as New Eastsiders lined up to pile in boxes and bags.

According to Smith, the most popular donations include clothes and furniture, but it’s not uncommon to receive things like flat screen TV’s or art work.

Rose and Paul Snopko, residents of the Buckingham., 360 E. Randolph St, stopped by on Saturday with a rolling cart piled high with donations. The couple donated 11 pairs of shoes, a twin size comforter, sweaters, pajamas, and a jewelry organizer.

Rose and Paul Snopko, residents of the Buckingham, donated several bags of clothes, shoes and home goods to Salvation Army on the morning of Feb. 3.

“We’ve done this many times before, we always donate,” said Rose Snopko.

Despite the cold temperatures, Smith said he was seeing just as much attendance as he does in the Summer months. By 11:30 a.m., the truck was nearly full, and Smith said there had been a steady stream of donations all morning.

The Salvation Army accepts most home and clothing items, with the exception of car seats and strollers that may have safety issues, items with excessive pet hair that might harm those with allergies, or overly stained mattresses or clothes.

The truck will return to Lakeshore East on March 3 and April 7 from 9 a.m. to noon.

 

Lakeshore East book club draws literature lovers

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer
Book clubs within the city are tailored to just about any genre a Chicagoan could want. There’s a book club for Sci-Fi lovers, and for fantasy titles like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. Certain book clubs have tangential draws, like discussions over wine or brunch, while others focus on deep conversations about the reading.
Here in Lakeshore East, residents have their own book club, combining all of the above genres. The Lakeshore East Book Club meets the second Thursday of every month at 6 p.m., on the 16th floor of the Tides party room. The book club is open to all Lakeshore East residents.
The Lakeshore East book club reads an assortment of books every year, with participants volunteering to lead book discussions each month. Book genres vary between fiction and nonfiction, and attendees often bring snacks, wine or dessert to be
shared. Books are also carefully sequenced so similar themes or lengthy novels are
not read back-to-back. In September, the members vote on 11 titles they will read
the following year. In addition, members also read whichever winning title is select-
ed by the city-wide reading program One Book, One Chicago.
“I joined the Lakeshore East Book Club to create friendships and meet new people,”
said New Eastside resident Nina Anderson.The group agreed that the book club instills a sense of community between its members. Although they discuss the readings in depth, the participants also catch up with one another. The area buildings and management teams have a hand in supporting the book club. For residents hoping to join the Lakeshore East Book Club, the next meeting will be held March 8 at 6 p.m. to discuss the book Shoot Like a Girl by Mary Jennings Hegar.
For more information about the book club, email Vanessa Casciano, community relations director at Magellan Development. vcasciano@magellandevelopment.com.

Must read books about Chicago

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
This nonfiction work describes the events
of the World’s Columbian Exhibition, and
mostly focuses on its organizer Burnham
and the infamous serial killer H.H. Holmes.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
The novel is bluntly realistic in its portrayals
of workers and working conditions in Chicago,
before the enforcement of workers’ rights.
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisernos
Consisting of small vignettes, the work is a
unique glimpse into the Latino community
in Chicago. Chicago Eternal by Larry Broutman
A nonfiction examination of overlooked
and notorious places of burial in Chicago

Thursday: Learn to defend yourself at Lakeshore Sport & Fitness

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Published Jan. 24, 2018

On Thursday, New Eastsiders can sign up for a crash course in self defense that will leave participants feeling safer and more empowered. Lakeshore Sport and Fitness, located at 211 N. Stetson Ave., is offering a “Self Defense Seminar” that will cover the basic skills needed to defend yourself against a physical attack.  

Luis Davila, social programming director for LSF, said the class will address how to remain in a calm mindset in a stressful, threatening situation.

“It’s okay to be vulnerable, and this class is going to help you deal with those moments,” said Davila.

The course will demonstrate “real world scenarios” and will teach attendees how to be more aware of their surroundings and vocalize their experiences with self defense.

Davila said that according to a Facebook poll of the event, respondents are most interested in learning how to escape if an attacker grabs them by the wrist or neck, so the class will go over movements for getting out of an arm or neck hold, along with other dangerous situations, like how to react when an attacker shows a weapon, or threatens that they have a weapon.

The 90-minute session will be led by instructor Christina Biancamano. Biancamano has a black belt in Tang Soo Do and has more than ten years of experience in a several areas of martial arts, including Judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Though reason for the class stems from concerns about safety, the team at LSF wants to have fun with it.

Davila will serve as the “dummy” for simulated attacks, and the group will participate in group kickboxing as a warm-up

The session will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the 211 lounge at Lakeshore Sport and Fitness.

Registration is open online for $49 per person. Readers can use the discount code NEWEASTSIDE for $10 off.

 

CAPS beat meetings resume in new year – CPD adding more officers

By Taylor Hartz

Published Jan. 16, 2018

 

New Eastsiders met with officers from their local police beat for the first time this year on Jan. 11.

The district’s first Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy – or CAPS –  beat meeting of 2018 took place in the community room inside the 400 E. Randolph Street building. About 30 residents gathered to discuss their concerns in the new year and follow up on issues addressed at previous CAPS meetings, including growing homeless populations in Pritzker Park and drag racing on Lower Wacker Drive.

The monthly CAPS meetings, which aim to improve communication between residents and local law enforcement, will alternate between the Randolph Street location, and 130 N. Garland Ct.

The meeting kicked off by addressing concerns about the growing homeless population in Pritzker Park, a concern that was discussed in length at the last CAPS meeting, held in November.

Sgt. Anthony Dombrowski speaks to residents at the first CAPS beat meeting of 2018, held at 400 E. Randolph St., on Jan. 11.

Dombrowski said Chicago Police are addressing this issue by looking into putting new cameras in the area, an idea Dombrowski said is supported by Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) and nearby John Marshall Law School already have security cameras in the area, said Dombrowski, but CPD is looking into adding some that are more visible to potential criminals.

Dombrowski said he thinks new, prominent cameras will be more effective.

“If people don’t realize they’re being recorded, they’re less likely to alter their behaviors,” said Dombrowski.

At previous CAPS meetings, officers have told residents that police can prevent individuals from panhandling or sleeping in Chicago Park District areas, but can’t do much else to keep them homeless individuals from gathering on public property.

Dombrowski told residents that Chicago police will always address reported crimes involving these populations, but reminded residents that “homelessness isn’t illegal.”

“Every homeless person is an individual person who has a whole life history as for why they’re in the position they’re in,” Dombrowski said, “unfortunately, there is no blanket solution.”

 

While the Pritzker Park issue may not have been resolved since the last CAPS meetings, residents were pleased that other issues were. Although it may mostly have to do with the extreme cold weather, drag racing seems so have slowed, if not stopped completely.

In place of the drag racing, though, was another concern of fast drivers.

One resident said that cars have been speeding on Lower Harbor Drive, where many New Eastsiders walk their dogs during inclement weather since the area is covered. The resident also noted that a few traffic lights in the area are out.

The resident said she had reported the issue a few times and was frustrated that the lights hadn’t been fixed, she also suggested adding speed bumps to the drive. Dombrowski said he would look into the issues raised.

Another repeat topic raised by Sgt. Dombrowski was the concern of theft in the area.

Police warned residents again of the dangers of leaving their bags on the backs of their chair at restaurants or bars, of leaving valuables on the seats of their cars and of walking with cellphones in hand.

When walking, especially in the evening, Dombrowski said that it may feel safer to have your cell phone out in case of an emergency, but having your cell in hand may make you a target.

Overall in the district, Dombrowski said thefts and other crime levels had remained steady, and started to decrease slightly.

The CPD is planning to increase the number of officers guarding New Eastside streets as the population in the area increases. With several new residential buildings being proposed for the area – though those plans are currently on hold – the population may soon be increasing by a few thousand. Dombrowski assured residents that as the New Eastside neighborhood grows, so will the police force protecting it.

“We are hiring new officers as fast as we can,” said Dombrowski, who said the process can often take quite a while as new recruits go through training.

Dombrowski said that bicycle units are “increasing their numbers dramatically” and that the number of officers on foot will also grow.

The sargent said the CPD will be hosting a recruitment drive on Feb 1st and that residents should expect to see a lot of new, young officers added to the local force.

According to Dombrowski, the CPD is also looking to hire a civilian community organizer, and said that community relations between CPD and New Eastsiders will be even more of a priority going forward.

The next CAPS meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, and will be held at 130 N. Garland Ct.

 

Plans for Lakeshore East high rises halted by Alderman

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly rejected the proposed development of three
buildings in Lakeshore East known as the “IJKL” parcels on Dec. 13 in an email to
constituents.

The highrises, proposed by Lendlease and Magellan Development Group earlier this year, would have added 1,400 residences throughout three new buildings. The project would also add 3,000 construction jobs and generate an approximate $20 million in annual revenue.

The statement from Ald. Reilly’s office said that “after reviewing the neighborhood
feedback, and discussing with the City Department of Planning and Development, Reilly determined to not move forward with the project.”

The development groups first proposed their plans to the community at a meeting
on July 10, showing renderings of the sleek new buildings. The meeting lasted three hours and drew more than 1,000 residents who gathered to voice their concerns. After the meeting, Ald. Reilly said his office “received hundreds of letters, emails and calls objecting the proposal.”

After requiring the developers to host public meetings with every residential building in the neighborhood and considering the many concerns raised by
locals, Ald. Reilly formally rejected the IJKL plans as presented.

Reilly sent several suggestions to the development companies, providing a list of changes that need to be made before he will consider future plans for the site. The list included more active, usable open space, elimination of a proposed grand staircase and zigzag pedestrian path, relocation of the Harbor Drive pedestrian access point and fencing between the parcels and lower Lake Shore Dr.

The alderman also called for tighter security. He suggested a staffed guard station on the lower level to monitor pedestrians, regular security patrols, installation of way-finding signage at the lakeshore access point and improved lighting and surveillance cameras that can tie-in to the City’s OEMC security camera network.

According to Rielly’s office, residents will be notified if the office receives an updated
proposal and a “transparent community process” will continue if the project moves
forward.

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