Grocery delivery options in New Eastside

By Miriam Finder Annenberg and Stephanie Racine | Staff Writers

While in the past New Eastside residents had no choice but to shop at stores in
person, recent years have seen an uptick in grocery delivery services.
Mariano’s Lakeshore East rolls out its online ordering and delivery service this January with ClickList, a curbside pick- up service that can be downloaded as an app, or accessed via the Mariano’s website.

John Nelson, owner of Vroom and resident of
New Eastside. Photo by Daniel Lewis

ClickList includes some helpful features, such as leaving notes attached to specific items, so that preferred ripeness or freshness of items is assured.

“Compared to other Mariano’s, we serve a lot more delivery,” said Mariano’s Lakeshore East Store Manager, Megan Gleeson.

Across the Chicago River, Whole Foods offers customers the option of online orders and delivery through Instacart.

The convenience of grocery delivery can be worth the additional price for residents. Peapod offers similar online and app ser-
vices. “I have used Peapod for grocery de- livery for four years,” said resident Connie Mayse. “I find the food to be of excellent
quality and the service to be invaluable as an apartment dweller.” Door to Door Organics is yet another option, focusing primarily on fruits, vegetables and other staples like milk.

According to Carolann Samuels of Door to Door, the company sees an increase in
business in winter. “Depending on what you get in a box on any given week, you will also get some recipes for meal planning,” she said.

At Bockwinkel’s, customers shop for groceries in-store and both Bockwinkel’s
stores in New Eastside—at Harbor Point and at Park Millennium–will deliver within
Lakeshore East at no extra cost.

Delivery isn’t limited to food. Vroom, a new service in the area, delivers alcohol in addition to certain grocery store items.

“We’re excited to be working with a local business, Burnham Liquors, to bring quick,
on-demand delivery to Lakeshore East,” said owner John Nelson. Vroom delivery to New Eastside is particularly special to Nelson. “As a local resident myself, I appreciate the ability to order a case of beer or some last-minute grocery items delivered in under an hour,” Nelson says.

Mariano’s Lakeshore East
333 E Benton Pl. Suite 206,
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 228-1349 / www.marianos.com

Whole Foods – Streeterville
255 E. Grand Ave,
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 379-7900 / www.wholefoodsmarket.com

Bockwinkel’s
222 N. Columbus Dr. / 155 N. Harbor Dr.,
Chicago, IL 60601(312) 228-9920 / www.bockwinkels.com

Peapod
(800) 573-2763 / www.peapod.com

Door to Door Organics
www.doortodoororganics.com

Vroom
www.vroomdelivery.com

The fleet beneath our feet

The Loop’s Streets and Sanitation office lies under New Eastside, with a fleet
that manages everything from street cleaning to snow sweeping

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

Part of the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation fleet hides below the New Eastside. The Loop Operations Office located at 351 E. Lower Randolp St., handles the central business district stretching roughly from 22nd Street to North Ave. and from Lake Michigan to the western boundary of Damen. During Cubs season, Loop Operations extends into Wrigleyville.

The office parking lot is stocked with cornflower blue garbage trucks, in both traditional style and split body, and white pickups outfitted with a six-yard garbage bin in the back, that can more easily navigate Loop traffic. There’s a street sweeper decked out in Cubs pinstripes hailing the 2016 Championship, a stake body truck, and a cab with a long flat bed—the workhorse that hauls Street and Sanitation department equipment.

Deputy Commissioner Cole Stallard inside an office at the Department
of Streets and Sanitation’s Operations Office. Photo by B. David Zarley

The impressive display of civic muscle provides a window into the multi-faceted operations of the Department of Streets and Sanitation’s Loop Operations Office which according to its website, handles over one million service requests per year. Everything from garbage, graffiti and snow removal to hand sweeping and special event security is managed from beneath the feet of New Eastsiders.

“This is a very multi-purpose office, and it’s unique to the city,” said Cole Stallard, deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Street Operations. According to Stallard, cleaning graffiti, hand sweeping and garbage collection are about the only constants of the job. “Every day is a new day down here, due to the fact that there’s just so much going on in Chicago,” he said.

The office takes on the task of snow removal and preparations for the major haul begin in July, requiring a team of about 100. Other preparations include snow fencing of Lake Shore Dr., coordinating supervised manual labor through the Sheriff ’s Alternative Work Program, street sweeping and cleanup of refuse left by the homeless.

Loop Operations is almost always open and staffed; Monday through Friday the office is open 24 hours, while Saturday and Sunday it is open for 16 hours each day. “The only day that this office closes is Christmas Day,” Stallard said. “And we come back Christmas night.”

Part of what makes Loop Operations unique is its role in special events like the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the Chicago Marathon and the Cubs’ and Blackhawks’ title celebrations. In addition to cleaning up after these events, Loop Operations also helps toprovide security and crowd control. Their snow plows are sometimes used as crowd barriers.

According to Stallard, the long hours and ever-changing challenges are well worth it, as Loop Operations employees take pride in keeping the most forward face of the city clean and safe. “I’m fortunate to have down here people who really care,” Stallard said.

Gene Siskel film center is taking the show on the road

By Taylor Hartz

For the first time in 17-years, the screens will go dark at The Gene Siskel Film Center at the School of the Art Institute.

The non-profit theater, which opened at its current 164 N. State St. location in 2001, announced that it will close for renovations from Dec. 1 through Jan. 4., after feedback from patrons stressed that updates were necessary.

The film center has beens screening “cutting edge” films in Chicago since 1972, and has an annual audience of 85,000 film-lover who view 1,500 screenings a year. With 200 filmmaker appearances every year, the center has a calendar full of film festivals, restorations and revivals of classic films, and debuts of independent filmmakers.

But film aficionados need not worry. While the center’s theaters are being updated, off-site screenings are taking place across the city. Movies and Film Center staff will travel to other theaters and cultural centers around Chicago, presenting four films as part of a “Gene Siskel Film Center On Location” from Dec. 3 through 10.

“The Gene Siskel Film Center is known and celebrated for serving various communities in Chicago through film so it’s only fitting that we give back by bringing highlights from the past year to select venues around the city,” said executive director Jean de St. Aubin.

“While our theaters will be closed during our December programming cycle, continuing to present movies elsewhere is essential to maintaining our presence and brand while on hiatus, and to remind film lovers that we aren’t going away.”

The off-site program debuted on Dec. 3 with a showing of “I Know a Man….Ashley Bryan” at the Logan Center for the Arts. The film profiles a beloved children’s author and illustrator, known for books like “Beautiful Blackbird” and “Dancing Granny.” This film made its Chicago debut in Aug. 2017  at the film center, during the 23rd Annual Black Harvest Film Festival.

Photo from “I Know a Man…Ashley Brown” provided by Gene Siskel Film Center.

The off-site series concludes Dec. 10 with a showing of “Kedi”, which had its Chicago premiere in January 2017 as part of the series “Stranger Than Fiction: Documentary Premieres.” This film showcases street cats in Istanbul, and the screening is followed by an event where guests will get to interact with cats, and maybe even take home a new pet. The event, with the Tree House Humane Society and Hyde Park Cats, will give film patrons the opportunity to adopt felines following the screening, or donate cat and dog food for furry friends in need this holiday season. 

Photo from “Kedi” provided by Gene Siskel Film Center.

The film center will reopen to the public in the new year on Jan. 5. Movie-goers can expect new seats and carpeting in the theaters, which will also be rewired to include enhanced assisted listening technology. Renovations will be completed by the architecture firm Gensler, which handled the building’s design in 2001. 

The newly renovated theaters will first screen “Keep Talking”, a documentary about four Alaska Native women fighting to save Kodiak Alutiiq, an endangered language in Alaska that is currently spoken by less than 40 fluent native elders. The second debut film will be “Tom of Finland,” a story of Finnish homoerotic fetish artist Toku Valio Laakson and his impact on LGBTQ culture in the late 20th century.

Tickets to each screening are $11 for general admission, or $5 for students. Advance tickets are available online and at the Film Center box office. Film-lovers can also purchase an annual membership, that drops the price per screening to $6.

 

 

For residents with disabilities, how accessible is New Eastside?

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

If you were in a wheelchair, could you get to your favorite restaurant? Would your daily commute be possible if you could no longer walk? Most of us do not bother to ask these questions, but for some New Eastside residents these are questions that must be asked every time they leave their home.

With its wealth of new construction, bus routes, the accessible Washington/Wabash CTA station, Pedway access and the wheelchair-friendly Millennium and Maggie Daley parks, New Eastside is more accommodating for people with disabilities than many other neighborhoods. While the amenities do not add up to an all-accessible utopia, they do make for an environment more easy to navigate—especially in the bitter throes of a Chicago winter—than many others in the city.

Disability advocate Michele Lee outside the AON Center, 200 E. Randolph St. Photo by B. David Zarley.

Providing shelter and connecting businesses, cultural institutions and transit options, the Pedway system is often a viable route for residents with disabilities. Maureen Reagan, president and founder of MRA Architects Ltd. uses a powered wheelchair and said the Pedway is “a godsend in inclement weather.”

Accessibility advocate Michele Lee, who also uses a powered wheelchair, agreed. “I think it’s great that New Eastside has the Pedway system ingrained in it,” she said. An employee of AON and former resident of Harbor Point, Lee also serves as a local guide for Google Maps, helping to rate and collect data on accessibility for various locations.

Accessibility is not only important for people with disabilities, but also useful for parents pushing strollers, shoppers shuttling carts and travelers trailing luggage. However, not all parts of the Pedway are accessible. The Pedway entrance and exit at Prudential Plaza, next to Millennium Station are obstacles faced by travelers. With revolving doors, escalators and stairs, this entrance and exit form an impassable gauntlet for those who need an accessible route from New Eastside into the Loop.

A little-known accessible path does exist, connecting New Eastside to the Thompson Center in the Loop. However, no maps suggest the long route which passes beneath the Aon building and along a Metra train platform, and most people discover it only after really exploring the Pedway. In order to increase awareness of the wheelchair-friendly route, community Pedway tours sponsored by New Eastside News, have led groups along the accessible path from New Eastside to Macy’s on State St.

Macy’s Pedway elevator. Photo by B. David Zarley.

City-wide programs aim to help address accessibility challenges. The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities have a variety of useful resources such as Accessibility Compliance Units, which can be requested for site inspections. Groups like Access Living advocate for people with disabilities, providing information and referrals, and teaches skills for budgeting, moving around town and seeking employment.

For more information about the accessible Pedway route, community members should contact

New Eastside News.

Email info@neweastsidecommunity.com or

call 312-690-3092.

Workers ready Skating Ribbon and McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

The ice comes under the cover of darkness. Layer upon layer, thin sheets of water are laid down hot by Zamboni ice resurfacers. Freed from the deleterious effects of direct sunlight, the layers accumulate until they make a fine sheet. Come 12 p.m. on November 17, visitors will be able to lace up their skates and feel the bite of their blades as another skating season begins. 

Both the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park’s Skating Ribbon are managed and maintained by Westrec, a marina management company that also contracts with Chicago Harbors. Before Westrec begins to lay ice, the glycol cooling systems running under the rinks are checked to make sure the chillers, compressors and piping that carries the glycol are running properly. The glycol system takes one to two days to cool the surface of the rink.

This maintenance process begins in the fall, according to Westrec Executive Vice President Scott Stevenson. “When the weather gets cool enough, we’ll then start to build ice,” he said. Temperatures should be below freezing at night and no higher than 40 degrees during the day, according to Stevenson.

After the surfaces are completely coated with these initial layers of water, the ice gets painted white with water soluble paint. White is not merely an aesthetic choice. “The white paint helps reflect the sunlight and helps us maintain the ice during the skating season,” Stevenson said. While the ice can withstand spring-like temperatures—55 to 60 degrees on the Ribbon or even a balmy 65 degrees at McCormick Tribune—sunshine is the enemy.

After the paint is applied, the Zamboni lays down up to 30 layers of ice, putting two to three inches between skaters and the paint. In addition to creating a smoother surface—the best ice, Stevenson explained, comes by laying hot water—the thin layers that the Zamboni lays even allows for ice to build on the slanted and uneven grade of the Ribbon. With problem-spot shaving blades, regular Zamboni passes are the majority of the maintenance the rink and Ribbon require during the season.

Sophie Slotnik (left), Dillon Johnston and Isa-belle Pihlträd skate at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in winter 2016. Photo by Elizabeth Johnston.

“It’s kind of a wintertime tradition for many people to come downtown and skate in Millennium Park,” said Kenya Merritt, deputy commissioner at the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Merritt says Loop skating has long been the norm in Chicago. Before the Millennium Park rinks were open, downtown skating took place at a rink that was located where Block 37 now stands, 108 N. State St.

Bright Horizon’s Fall Fest gives to charity

By Miriam Finder Annenberg | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

New Eastside’s Bright Horizons preschool kicked off a partnership with the Maryville Mom’s Recovery Home in West Town on October 21 during Bright Horizon’s Fall Fest.

The festival invited families from the neighborhood to the field in Lake Shore East Park for face painting, pumpkin decorating, and games, with all proceeds aiding in the creation of a Bright Space at the Recovery Home, scheduled to open in December.

Bright Spaces are part of Bright Horizon’s mission of supporting childhood education and development. The warm, inviting spaces, situated at a local non-profit,, feature reading spaces and arts-and-crafts areas for children.

Jennifer Smith, Assistant Director of Bright Horizons at Lakeshore East, called the project an exciting partnership that she and school director Amber Rue looked forward to initiating. 

Children line up for face painting in the Lake Shore East Park. Photo by Miriam Finder.

The Maryville Mom’s Recovery Home opened last year with the goal of keeping families intact while mothers deal with mental health and substance abuse issues. Mothers live in the center with their children as they undergo onsite sobriety and mental health treatment, while also developing parenting skills and occupational training.

Bright Horizons gathered proceeds through ticket sales, used for games and activities at Fall Fest.

“Jennifer and I got together and thought it would be wonderful to have a space that fostered loving relationships,” says Katrina Ivory, Parent Educator at the Recovery Home. “We’re all hoping it all pulls together in mid-December.”

Once completed, the Bright Space will give residents a place to come together and relax, play, and bond.

“It’s just really one of those collaborations where it…encourages children’s growth,” Rue says. “The right people are in place.”

Moving forward, Rue said Bright Horizons plans to continue the partnership with Maryville Mom’s Recovery Home, possibly by offering a cooking class or bringing families from the two organizations together for an art night.

 

Helping the homeless

Residents give food, job training to Chicago’s homeless

By Angela Gagnon | Staff Writer

November 15, 2017

The Chicago Help Initiative (CHI)—founded by longtime New Eastside resident Jacqueline Hayes—is a local, not-for-profit organization that provides meals, job resources, health services and more to Chicago’s homeless and underprivileged.

It started in 1999, when Hayes was a real estate broker who often encountered homeless people sleeping on the stoops of properties she was showing. “I noticed it was a problem,” Hayes said, “and I had to do something about it.” Over the past 17 years, CHI has amassed a consortium of helping hands to not only address hunger, but also to connect guests with resources and social services that allow them to work toward a better life. “We aim to get five to six people a year off the street and into jobs,” Hayes said.

CHI Founder Jacqueline Hayes (far right) and regular volunteer Susan Gold (third from left) host dinner guests at Catholic Charities, 721 N. Lasal-le St. Photo by Angela Gagnon

The process starts with nourishment. Every Wednesday night, CHI serves a hot meal to about 130 guests in the dining hall at Catholic Charities, 721 N. LaSalle St., but the popular weekly dinners include more than just food. Guests are treated with dignity and respect from the moment they enter the dining hall. Some guests are part of the Weekly Jobs Club, which provides valuable job training skills and assists with difficult transitions back into the workforce.

A guest speaker from a partner program begins the night by sharing resources relating to finding shelter, medical care or job training. Guests can peruse a resource table in the dining hall that provides more information about the speaker’s topics. They can also visit the health services table where local medical staff are on hand to administer care. When it’s time for dinner, table numbers are called and guests line up to receive their meals. Local corporations, restaurants, hotels, businesses and individuals sponsor the meals and provide the food. CHI also puts together about 60 bagged meals to distribute to those they cannot accommodate in the dining hall.

New Eastside resident, kitchen runner and board member Susan Gold has been an integral part of these dinners for the past 14 years. “CHI has grown tremendously from just a meal,” Gold said. “The guests are really taken care of and you become close to the people who come there to eat.”

Terry Coyner, a fairly recent New East side resident, attended her first Wednesday night dinner as a volunteer in late September. Coyner connected after passing so many homeless people on the streets. “I was really happy to see that I could just sign up to volunteer and start helping within a few days,” she said.

Her duty on that first evening was to give each guest a small gift at the end of the night—a cup of pudding and a spoon. “I saw so much gratitude from the guests who come for dinner, but the experience is also rewarding to those who help,” Coyner said. In the eyes of the guests, volunteers are more than just a helping hand. Longtime guest Rochelle Baker spoke fondly about the people she’s met at CHI and the experiences she wouldn’t have had without the help of the organization. “You just feel like you matter,” she said. “Like somebody cares.”

The CHI dinners are beneficial to the volunteers as well as the guests. “Volunteering with us is a very addictive experience,” Hayes said. “You feel like you’re doing good. It’s very rewarding.”

Currently, CHI is looking for tutors for their adult learning program, which runs weekly from 3–4 p.m. To volunteer in this capacity or to find out more about opportunities to help, contact Executive Director Doug Fraser (dfraser@chicagohelpinitiative.org) or visit their website at

CAPS meeting focuses on alley safety and using 911

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

November 11, 2017

Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, or CAPS, meetings covering the New Eastside in the city’s 1st District returned to their alternating location schedule this month. With dozens of residents in attendance from both sides of the district, CAPS liaison Nicole Bryson reported on crime in the district, and addressed citizens’ concerns at a 400 E Randolph St. meeting on Nov 9.

“Crime is down in all of the beats,” said Bryson, “And we don’t have any active theft patterns in the 1st District currently.” At the last beat meeting on Oct. 18, Bryson had alerted residents to high levels of theft in the area, mostly concerning retail shoplifting and robberies from restaurants and bars.

At this month’s meeting, the first issue raised was one that residents said they have brought to the city’s attention several times – parking during festivals. One resident said she was concerned that during festivals held in Millennium Park, especially Chicago Gourmet, buses and other large vehicles park on Randolph Street between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive, leaving little room for vehicles to pass through. Residents were concerned that police, ambulances, and fire trucks would not be able to navigate the street in the event of an emergency.

According to the resident reporting the issue, there were no traffic control persons on site, and a call to 311 did not result in any clearing of the street.

Bryson agreed that a festival of that size should have some sort of traffic control, “That’s probably something that we need to implement going forward.” Bryson urged residents to call 911 not 311 with such concerns in the future. 311 should be used for events that aren’t ongoing, said Bryson.

As other residents voiced new concerns, Bryson said she would also look into graffiti on newspaper boxes in front of the AON building, and the timing of cross walk signals and traffic lights for crossings Van Buren Street and Michigan Avenue.

While a variety of topics were discussed throughout the hour long gathering of police and residents, one main concern focused on alley way safety.

According to a group of residents who live near the intersection of South State Street and East Van Buren Street, near the DePaul Center, an alleyway near their building has recently been crowded by a group of people who are not residents of the building. Residents say they have witnessed incidents of the individuals exposing themselves, making violent threats, and using drugs.

According to Bryson, the police had been alerted to this group, who Bryson said police believe are the same group of people that previously to gathered in the area of Pritzker Park. She added that the department would “put some special attention in that area” going forward.

In September, the Chicago Police Department Narcotics Division released a report, distributed by CAPS, that detailed a recent Narcotics Enforcement Mission in the Pritzker Park Area. According to the report, ten individuals were arrested in Pritzker Park and charged with distribution or possession of a controlled substance, and as of September, the department is still looking for five more suspects.

The Narcotics division said most of the individuals arrested were members of the Black Disciples or Gangster Disciples street gang, and that the department seized cash and narcotics at the scene.The operation, carried out by the Narcotics Division and 1st district officers, was spurred by residents complaining about public violence and narcotic sales near the park.

At the CAPS meeting, residents were happy to hear that the CPD were already aware of this issue. “We’re actively trying to do something,” said one resident, who said she had met with her building’s security team. “We just want the police to know and continue to help us out.”

Bryson again encouraged residents to call 911 anytime they see suspicious persons or activity in the alleyway.

“If they aren’t walking or driving through or bringing the trash, people shouldn’t be in the alleys,” said Bryson, “If they are, you can call and report it every time.”

For further safety on the issue, Bryson and Bailey distributed a handout of CAPS Alley Safety Tips, signed off by Chicago Police Department Supt. Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The handout says that while alleys should primarily be used for off street parking and garbage pick up, “unfortunately, alleys can also provide cover for burglars and other criminals.” One resident at the meeting pointed out that the alley near the DePaul center is covered, shielding the group from harsh weather conditions.

In the CAPS handout, residents are encouraged to abide by the following safety tips:

  • Secure your back door and gate.

Burglars often enter through a less-visible back door, so “locks and visibility of entrances are your best defense against crime.” CAPS also recommends using deadbolts.

  • Secure your garage.

According to CAPS, garages offer an opportunity for theft and a place to hide. Residents should consider using an automatic garage door opener that will help make coming home safer, and using light or motion sensing lighting devices near their garage.

  • Light your alley and backyard.

Residents should “deny criminals the cover of darkness” by making sure the rear of the property is well lit. One way to do this is to immediately report any city installed lights that are out or not working properly.

  • Place your address in the back of your property.

This helps police if a criminal uses your property as access to an alley. It’s important to remember that your address should be on your home, door, or gate, not only on on garbage cans or other moveable objects.

  • Don’t use alleys as alternatives to streets.

Using more heavily traveled streets is safer, especially if traveling alone and at night.

  • Keep your alley clean.

Accumulated trash can send a signal to criminals that no one cares about the neighborhood, and may not report a crime.

Throughout the meeting, Bryson continuously repeated one safety tip: call 911.

“Taxpayers of the city of Chicago, stop calling 311,” said Bryson. “You pay for 911, use your city services.”

The officer said that even if officers don’t respond to a 911 call, the calls for service are recorded and an event is logged into the system.

“It doesn’t have to be life threatening, because not every area in Chicago has life threatening issues. If it is a current issue that’s happening now, call us,” said Bryson.

Bryson said the 311 line should be used for concerns of things that have happened in the past, not current issues, and that residents shouldn’t be worried about taking emergency services away from another crime, adding that calls are prioritized as they come in.

“We’re busy and overwhelmed but call us anyway.” said Bryson “We respond to every inch of this city.”

At the meeting several residents also commented on seeing an increased number of patrolmen in the area, a concern brought up in September, and commended the CPD for their increased effort.

Grant Park gets a makeover

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

Visitors to Grant Park can expect to see major changes in the next year, with the team at the Grant Park Conservancy setting goals for a better looking green space.

The non-profit group has launched a few initiatives that will improve the appearance of Grant Park with repainted fences, new landscaping and artistic advertisements.

Earlier this year, the GPC teamed up with Bailey Nurseries, Inc., in Newport, Minn. In an effort to make Grant Park greener, the nursery will donate large scale landscaping projects to Grant Park on an annual basis beginning this year.

In October, the company gave Grant Park hundreds of trees, bushes and flowers, along with all the materials necessary to plant the new greenery. According to GPC President Bob O’Neill, the conservancy is currently putting out bids for contractors to manage the new landscaping.

“A lot of times with volunteer projects, people walk away from projects and the plants die,” said O’Neill, “A project of this size means having a contract plan for taking care of the landscaping.”

This is the first year the GPC is working with Bailey, “It’s all very new, we’re still building the relationship with them,” said O’Neil.

The conservancy teamed up with the Minnesota nursery after it donated landscaping to the Lincoln Park Zoo for this year’s Chicago Ale Fest. O’Neill said the nursery then found their way to them through word of mouth.

According to O’Neill, the conservancy wants the partnership to be a serious longterm project. Moving forward, Bailey will donate more plants and planting materials every year to improve a different area of the park. This year, he hopes to start by filling flower beds in the skate park area.

In exchange for their donations, O’Neill said the nursery hopes to promote their products at future festivals in Grant Park, but assured it will be done tastefully.  The nursery will decorate festivals with donated flowers and plants that will have small “Bailey Nurseries” labels on the potting. “They’re very good at being subtle about it,” said O’Neill.

Tasteful advertising in Grant Park is a must for the Grant Park Conservancy.

The group this summer launched another initiative to beautify the park through its advertisements, by teaming up with local artists to make commercial advertisements and park notices more aesthetically pleasing.

“Every ad can be art and advertising” said O’Neill, who said the GPC hopes to make ads in the underpass that connects the park to lake more artistic.

In October, O’Neill said the conservancy was negotiating with the park’s concession  management team. The president said he understands that private advertising is needed in the parks, but doesn’t think it needs to be an eyesore.

“If we’re going to have advertising, which raises revenue, then we need to make it creative and artistic.”

In recent years, cell phone companies have advertised in the underpasses, and the conservancy hopes to work with these companies to negotiate contracts for 2018 advertising campaigns that are more artistic.

“It’s a good thing to raise private revenue because then property taxes don’t have to go to park improvement, but it has to be done in an artistic, green way,” said O’Neill.

The conservancy is also working with Park Concessions Management, headquartered in Grant Park, to improve the appearance of park related ads and notices.

This includes signage for food and drink options, along with ads for outdoor wifi and cell phone charging stations that are being put up in parks. Such signs are popping up on the Oak Street and North Avenue beaches, in Grant Park, by DuSable Harbor, and in several other areas that have cafes and concession stands.

“The idea is to make them effective adverts but more importantly to make them aesthetically pleasing to avoid over-corporatizing the parks,” said O’Neill. The conservancy has already made moves to show the management group artist renderings, has brought artists in to give presentations, and have more upcoming meetings on the calendar.

One local artist, Abdel Morched, has delivered a presentation to show off ideas for more creative ad campaigns. Morched is the owner of “Color and Chill” –  a company that markets advanced coloring books with complex geometric designs. According to O’Neil, Morched works primarily in graphic design that he creates on a tablet and transfers to printed work.

Artist Rich Alapack has also teamed up with the conservancy to focus on more 3-D art. Alapack is currently working on a tile mural in the West Loop, and previously designed the “We All Live Here” project at Ogden International School of Chicago. Alapack’s collaboration with community members is what stood out to the conservancy.

“We’re looking at involving not only more artists but members of the community,” said O’Neill. “Alapack doesn’t do projects without involving people, that’s what he stands for.”

O’Neill said the artist’s idea for Grant Park involves the skate park area. Alapack is looking to create an installation, potentially used for advertising in the skate park, that will be made entirely of skateboard decks and wheels.

The group is also working with artists to explore even more creative avenues for advertising, including LED lighting and projections onto trees, especially during festivals.

As the conservancy works to beautify the park grounds, they aren’t forgetting the entryways and street views.

Members of the conservancy have led a volunteer effort to paint all the peeling fences along both sides of Columbus Drive from Balbo Drive to Roosevelt Road. With four sides of fencing around each tree on the sidewalk for several blocks, O’Neill said repainting the wrought iron is “A huge ongoing project.”

Members of the conservancy, supplying all the paint, brushes and scrapers, have been recruiting companies to volunteer their time and is actively seeking more volunteers. The project is expected to take three years.

CPD warns of high theft rates in New Eastside

Officer Nicole Bryson speaks with residents during a CAPS meeting on Oct. 12th.

By Taylor Hartz

October 18, 2017

Crime levels are low in the New Eastside, but thefts are high.

According to Chicago Police Department officer Nicole Bryson, the CPD district that includes Millennium Park and Grant Park experiences higher rates of theft than other parts of the city. At a recent meeting of the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, or CAPS, officers gave residents of the first district tips for protecting themselves and their property.

Once a month, officers from CAPS meet with neighbors to discuss concerns of crime in the area. This month, the group met at 130 N. Garland Court on Oct. 12, with about seven residents in attendance.

Bryson told attendees that theft surpasses any other type of crime in the New Eastside area, mostly targeting tourists and retail stores. Although residents don’t have much to worry about when it comes to violent crime in the New Eastside, Bryson said they should always be on high alert for theft.

“We have more quality of life issues than violent crime in this district,” Bryson said, ”but this is the city of Chicago, you have to be aware of your surroundings.”

While instances of violent crime are few and far apart, Bryson said theft is almost constant.

“We see theft all day because of the way the district is structured,” said Bryson, “It’s a big area, popular, the place to be.”

The high theft rate has to do with the volume of stores, restaurants and other businesses, and the fact that “this was a business district first, then the residential came in,” said Bryson.

Lately, Bryson said the CPD has seen an increase in people walking by and swiping phones from tables at restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Bryson warned residents to never leave their phone unattended, even for a moment.

Another tactic that has become common in the area is theft of purses or bags that are placed beneath chairs, or hung from chair backs. Bryson said thieves will sneakily steal personal items when owners aren’t paying attention.This type of theft mostly affects tourists, but locals can fall victim too. Bryson said it’s important to be aware of your surroundings when dining or drinking out, even at familiar establishments.

On the street or when riding the CTA, the CPD warns that thieves will be on the lookout for your electronics. The department recently began circulating a warning ad that suggests that if you’re distracted by your phone, thieves see you as blindfolded, and an easy target.

One resident referenced the recent incident involving 23-year-old Victor Medina, who was robbed for his cellphone and backpack and thrown into Lake Michigan in late September. Medina was on a path behind Shedd Aquarium, in the 1200-block of South Lake Shore Drive when three men and two women robbed and beat him in the early morning hours.

Bryson said that while this was an isolated incident not often seen in the area, residents should take warning not to have items like cellphones and laptops out in clear view late at night, and to be cautious of being out alone late at night.   

While there are certainly precautions that residents can take to avoid having their property stolen, Bryson said the the majority of thefts target businesses, not individuals.

Shoplifting from area stores contributes a great deal to theft rates in and around New Eastside, as does a type of theft called “deceptive practice.” According to the Illinois General Assembly, deceptive practice occurs when an individual uses lies, false intentions or threats to keep another from property or payment. Bryson said these crimes most commonly involve incidents of not paying for a taxi ride, or leaving a restaurant without paying.

Bryson said the CPD is working with businesses to warn them of such thefts, and is collaborating with restaurants and bars to help lower the number of cell phone and purse thefts. Officers are asking business owners to keep an eye out for patrons who may be leaving property unattended and out of sight, and encouraging them to remind customers to stay aware of their surroundings.

CAPS meetings for the first district will resume resume a rotating schedule in November, with meeting locations alternating between 130 N. Garland Ave. and 400 E. Randolph St. The next meeting will be held at 400 E. Randolph St. at 6:30p.m. on Nov. 9th.

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