Chicago sports stars, Cook County DA Speak on after-school activities role in curbing crime

By Brian David Zarley, Staff Writer

October 12, 2017

 

On October 4th, the second annual Chicago Sports Summit dedicated its opening session to the potential for sports and after-school activities to curb violence. Luminaries from various Chicag

o sports gathered in the Gran

 

d Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency with another high performer on the court—Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly M. Foxx—to

discuss the rising tide of youth violence.

 

Cook County State’s Attorney, Kimberly M. Foxx, at the Chicago Sports Summit 2017. Photo: B. David Zarley

Fittingly, the proceeds raised by the Chicago Sports Summit Foundation go to support After School Matters, a non-profit that provides CPS students with extracurricular activities in arts, communication, STEM and sports.

 

The summit opened with Foxx’s keynote address, where she spoke of her own athletic experiences, beginning in the Cabrini-Green projects, sprinting up concrete building ramps—visions of American athlete Flo-Jo in her head—and practicing gymnastics on discarded mattresses.

Foxx said it was her involvement in cross country in high school that inspired her confidence to become a lawyer.

“An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of prosecution,” Foxx said. “After-school programs, sports programs—these activities give kids opportunities to thrive and excel. They show kids that they matter, that we care about them.”

After Foxx spoke, the panel took the stage. Father Scott Donahue, President and CEO ofMercy Home for Boys and Girls, was joined by former NFL running back Jarrett Payton, former Bull Horace Grant, former Blackhawk Jamal Mayers and current White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and his wife Bria, to talk about the position sports and after-school programs can play in curbing violence.

 

Anderson had perhaps the most immediate experience on the panel—his friend Branden Moss was shot in their home state of Alabama this past spring. “It kind of shook me,” Anderson said. “It made me want to get out into the community and help kids with violence.”

The panel stressed the importance of providing role models, opportunities, trust and love to kids via after-school programs. “It gives kids the opportunity to see that they are not destined for failure, that they are not destined to be part of a gang,” Mayers said.

The panel believes providing these necessities indelibly changes youth, and the message resonated deeply within the hall. “You can actually see when the turn takes place in a young person’s life,” Father Donahue said.

 

 

 

Former Bull and current Bulls special advisor Horace Grant (l.) and President and CEO of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls Father Scott Donahue at the second annual Chicago Sports Summit at the Hyatt Regency on the morning of October 4, 2017. Photo: B. David Zarley

City launches new program for police accountability

By Taylor Hartz | Staff Writer

October 9, 2017

A new program for civilian police oversight launched in September, offering residents of Chicago a place to direct their complaints and compliments about Chicago police officers.

The new program, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, serves to investigate allegations of police misconduct, identify patterns in misconduct, and make policy changes to improve the CPD.

At an inaugural ceremony at the South Shore Community Center on Sept. 15, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city is “not rebranding, we’re rebuilding” when it comes to police accountability efforts.

COPA is replacing a previous city program, the Independent Police Review Authority, or IPRA. Sharon Fairley, then Chief administrative officer for COPA, said the public can expect to see big changes from the old program.

“The whole process has been redesigned to focus on quality and timeliness,” said Fairley, who has since stepped down to run for attorney general. 

Sharon Fairley, former Chief Administrative Officer for COPA, speaks at a press conference after the COPA inauguration on Sept. 15.

After completing a six-week COPA Academy for civilian oversight training, new investigators and legal staff were sworn in at the inauguration, delivering an oath on their commitment to integrity, oversight and timeliness while completing “fair and just investigations.”

COPA now has over 120 active employees, and is still looking to hire more. The previous program was only allotted 54 investigators, and was never fully staffed.

When asked how COPA will differ from IPRA, Fairley rattled off a list of changes and improvements.

Several positions have been added to the COPA team to ensure proper operation, including an evidence specialist, digital forensic analysts, increased legal oversight, and a new investigations operations and quality management unit.

While the team expects to operate better internally, their “collaboration and coordination” with Chicago police departments is also expected to improve.

The new COPA program, said the mayor, is “a milestone on the road to reform” that will ensure quality interactions between police and Chicago residents.

However, COPA is just one piece of a city wide effort to improve police relations, said the mayor, who detailed plans for increased police staffing, and stressed that officer training is an integral part of reform. The mayor said better training is essential for public safety and necessary for officers to do their job.

According to the mayor, CPD officers this year will undergo improved training courses in how to respond to mental health calls, and will receive the “training and resources to know that not every event requires escalation.” De-escalation training is a tactic often used to reduce the number of officer involved fatal shootings.

“Every instance an officer has with a resident of the city of Chicago is a teaching moment,” said the mayor, adding that every officer in the city will wear a body camera by the end of the year.

At the Sept. 15 press conference Fairley announced that the program has finalized new protocols with police departments. After working with city departments for several months, Fairley said “ I think we’re all on the same page.”

New protocols have been established for how crime scenes are managed that will allow COPA staff to conduct investigations more quickly and thoroughly, and allow “the two agencies to work side by side,” said Fairley. 

“Finally there will be the rules of the road that govern how these scenes are handled.”

Addressing a timeliness issue that IPRA faced with past investigations, Fairley said COPA personnel will have immediate access to the scene when they arrive, and will review video surveillance at the same time the police department does, rather than after. There will still be 24-hour delay before COPA investigators can speak to officers who have discharged a weapon in an officer involved shooting.

In addition to more than doubling their staff size, Fairley said the program will now have a pool of experts investigators can draw on, specializing in subjects like forensic medicine and crime scene reconstruction. 

New staff members are sworn in at the COPA inauguration at the South Shore Community Center on Sept. 15.

COPA is now accepting reports from the public, with a new website that offers resources for filing complaints and explains the steps for following an investigation. COPA accepts complaints and compliments online, over the phone, by mail, in litigation, or by visiting the COPA office at 1615 W Chicago Avenue, 4th floor.

For those looking to follow up on an investigation, a case portal on the website offers access to open cases, and data from prior investigations can be accessible on the website. Fairley said the department was working to update their backlog of older investigations.

 

New L station opens in the Loop

By Taylor Hartz | September 9, 2017

Loop commuters will find their trains making a new stop, with the opening of Washington and Wabash. 

The new CTA L station opened on Aug. 31, replacing two-century-old stops, the Madison station, which closed in March 2015, and the Randolph/Wabash station, which saw its last train in the early hours of Sept. 3. Both stations were built more than 120 years ago, and Washington/Wabash is the first new downtown station in 20 years.

Located between Madison and Washington Streets, the station features modern amenities like an elevated platform, LED lighting,  21st-century architecture, security cameras and digital displays. Its design is meant to increase capacity and efficiency while making the station more accessible to all riders with a wider platform, four elevators, and an escalator.

At a grand opening ceremony on Aug. 31, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the new station “represents the best of Chicago’s heritage of architectural innovation and ingenuity while creating modern amenities for the thousands of travelers who utilize it every day.”

Commuter Kerry Davis said the new station is “much more convenient” for her morning commute on the L.

“I used to get off at Randolph and have to walk,” said Davis, but now the Washington and Wabash will keep her from walking through the snow in the winter months.

Construction on the new station began in March 2015, with a total price tag of $75 million. The project was completed using only federal funding, according to Michael Claffey of the Chicago Department of Transportation.

“We have made unprecedented investments to modernize transportation throughout Chicago, and this new station combines that commitment with our city’s culture,” Mayor Emanuel said. 

Entrances to Washington/Wabash will be on the south side of Washington Street about 100 feet north of Madison Street, and on both sides of Wabash Avenue, where elevators will be located between Washington and Madison.

All Eyes on the Sky

For a few moments last week, Americans across the map were united in one thing – their eyes were on the sky.

On Aug. 21, the first total solar eclipse in decades swept across the United States, with the moon blocking out the sun’s light as it passed. This type of eclipse had not passed through Chicago in more than 90 years.

The moon began to block the sun above the city at 11:54a.m. with 87 percent of the sun covered by 1:19p.m. Despite cloudy skies, crowds gathered across the city to stare up at the historic event.

With food trucks, entertainment, and of course, a hefty supply of eclipse glasses, crowds gathered to stare up as the eclipse moved. With the Chicago skyline behind them, many lay out blankets on the grass and made themselves comfortable as they awaited the eclipse.

Dustin Farrington and Brooke Denny were among those seated on the lawn, having traveled from Lansing, Mich., to watch the eclipse at Adler Planetarium’s Eclipse Fest. The two drove over three hours to attend the festival, using the cosmic event as an excuse to visit Chicago.

“I’ve never been to Chicago before, so since the solar eclipse was happening we woke up and came here to watch,” said Farrington.

Although the Chicago skies didn’t see “totality” – the sun being blocked entirely – Denny said the festival made it worth the trip.

“Being around people who appreciate this as much as we do is really cool,” said Denny, “The environment is really great.”

And there were plenty who appreciated the significance of the event here in Chicago.

More than 45,000 spectators gathered outside of Adler Planetarium for the Chicago Eclipse Fest, grabbing up all 40,000 pairs of glasses Adler distributed the morning of the eclipse. In total, the planetarium gave out over 250,000 pairs of glasses. The glasses helped prevent eye damage, caused by looking directly at the sun, and were given out for free across the city as part of Adlers “Equipped to Eclipse” campaign.

For those who made a last minute decision to watch the eclipse, plenty of other opportunities were available for safe viewing. An activity station allowed visitors to craft their own mechanism from boxes and duck tape, while volunteers like Isobell Tallenar showed guests how to use a modified telescope.

Tallenar explained to a line of spectators that scientists from the planetarium used a 3D printed to create “an aparatus out of shower curtain and construction paper that makes a mini sun theater.” The telescope projected a viewing of the eclipse for those who didn’t have glasses to watch it first hand.

“It’s like a live stream,” said Tallenar.

As the eclipse progressed, Megan Trinh adjusted the glasses on her three-year-old daughter Madeline, and instructed her to look up and look for a little sliver of light. When the three-year-old south loop resident caught a glimpse she pointed toward the sun — “I’m excited,” she said toward her mother.

“She loves the planetarium,” Trinh said of her daughter, who she said watched PBS cartoons about eclipse to prepare for the event. Her love of the space museum meant they couldn’t miss the festival. Trinh said her husband waited in line for 45 minutes at two different libraries to find the glasses for their daughter.

Many other parents made sure that their children would not miss out on the historic event.

June Murdock brought her two children, Keanu Keys, 8, and Lyric Keys, 5, to watch the eclipse. The children lay on their backs on the planetarium stairs, looking up through their glasses. Murdock, from Washington Heights, said she brought her kids to the festival for quality family time.

“I was eight-years-old the last time I saw something like this,” said Murdock, “and for them this is the first opportunity.”

Locals, tourists, families and space enthusiasts all enjoyed an afternoon of eclipse-themed art work, 3-D chalk creations, food trucks, and arts and craft activities before and after they set their sites on the sun.

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Lakeshore East Coffee takes over former RōM space

If Nick Papageorgiou has his way, New Eastsiders won’t ever have to climb their way to a cup of good coffee again.

“Based on the time I’ve spent on this side of the park, I’m confident [this will work],” says Papageorgiou, about Lakeshore East Coffee, which took over Caffè RōM’s old space at 400 E. South Water St. on June 27. While its red backsplashes, white countertops and caffeinated drinks will look familiar to customers, Papageorgiou says the similarities stop there.

“We want to interact with the com- munity,” says Papageorgiou, who also owns Eggy’s Diner. “RōM didn’t want to adapt its model to the community.”

Along with Dark Matter coffee, iced teas, lattes and espressos, Lakeshore East Coffee will serve a selection of gelatos and pastries. For now, Lake- shore East Coffee will function as a community coffee bar, but Papageorgiou envisions filling a bigger gap in New Eastside. He says that when the cafe receives its liquor license later this summer, it will transform itself into “The Drunken Bean” wine bar—a destination for New Eastside nightlife.

“It’s gonna be a cool place,” says Pa- pageorgiou. “The brand will be a lot different.” He describes a cafe open until 11 p.m., live music and community open mics set against a backdrop of exposed brick, community tables and “warm” colors.

For Tides resident Melanie Belloch, who moved to New Eastside the day RōM pulled up roots, the news couldn’t be more exciting. “I can’t wait,” she says. “I love live music so that’s perfect. It’s even better that it’s close.”

— Tricia Parker, Staff Writer

March News

GEMS hosts mascot contest

GEMS World Academy’s new dragon mascot, which debuted in December, is still missing one important thing.

“We hope to have a name by the first week of March,” says Marketing Coordinator Ashley Demma, adding that GEMS is sponsoring an online contest seeking a moniker for the mascot. GEMS created the new mascot in advance of its Upper School opening this fall.

“We’ve had a very positive response to our mascot,” says Demma about the ice-blue dragon. With its flattened ears and pointy wings, the new mascot inspires courage and willpower.

“The dragon provides an apt symbol for the risk-taking, thoughtful and entrepreneurial spirit of our students, faculty, parents and community,” says Demma.

Going forward, GEMS sports teams will be known as “The Dragons.” This is the first time in its three-year history that GEMS has had a mascot.

Harris Theater appoints new CEO

The Harris Theater has named Paul Organisak president and CEO, ending the 12-year tenure of former President and Managing Director Michael Tiknis.

Organisak previously served as vice president of programming for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, where he oversaw a wide range of performance, including dance, theater and cabaret performances. His 30-year career also includes stints at Dance Umbrella (Boston), the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) and the Pittsburgh Dance Council.

“I am honored and thrilled to join the [Harris] team,” says Organisak. “Its status as a . . . cultural jewel of Chicago drew me immediately to this position.”

Opened in November 2003, the Harris hosts the “most diverse offerings of any venue in Chicago,” according to a company press release, partnering with more than 35 performing arts organizations across the city.

Urban Kayaks’ James Morro elected president of water safety group

James Morro, one of three owners at Urban Kayaks, has been elected president of the Chicago Harbor Safety Committee (CHSC), a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring the safety of Chicago’s waterways. Formed in 2013, the committee’s geographic area includes the Chicago River and the entire Chicago lakefront.

“We all deeply care about the waterway and how it works …. the relationship among everybody,” says Morro. “I’m happy to step up and contribute.” Morro says the CHSC includes “at least 20” stakeholders from nine different sectors.

In his one-year term as president, Morro says he will be especially committed to smoothing the waters between large and small crafts.

“The relationship with kayak operators and barge companies was a little rocky to say the least,” Morro says, adding that in recent months the CHSC has earned accolades for its spirit of collaboration.

New Eastside Neighbors group tops 500 members

The New Eastside/Lakeshore East Neighbors Meetup group, a neighborhood organization founded in September 2016, has rapidly grown to nearly 550 members, as of early March.

“I see the personal and professional value of bringing neighbors together for friendship and camaraderie,” says New Eastside resident Tom Besore, who stepped up as organizer of the group in February. “[I] love to use the Internet as a tool to get people off the Internet and build real-world friendships the old-fashioned way — by meeting people in our own neighborhood.” Besore is the organizer of the highly successful Windy City Explorers group, which has more than 7,100 members.

New Eastside Neighbors typically meets between two and three times per month, at different locations around the neighborhood. Attendees must register through Meetup.com. Events so far have included skating at Maggie Daley skate ribbon, a Chinese New Year lunch at MingHin and a Valentine’s Day dinner at Pinstripes.

To see the latest New Eastside Neighbors events, visit: www.meetup.com/Lakeshore-East-New-Eastside-Neighbors

New carpet for Hyatt Pedway

A corner of the New Eastside Pedway has transformed from “plain” to “posh” after the Hyatt Regency installed plush new carpeting in February.

“Now you’ve got the feeling you’re still in the hotel when you walk in the hotel,” says Thomas Feilen, senior director of engineering for the Hyatt Regency.

The beige-colored carpeting, ordered from luxury Taiwanese carpet manufacturer Tai Ping, features crisscrossing strips of brown, blue and gold. It stretches from the western portion of the 303 E. Randolph corridor to near the entrance of Spa Di La Fronza salon.

“I like it; it warms [the Pedway] up,” says Spa Di La Fronza owner Frank La Fronza. “I don’t hear much noise, not too many women in high heels,” he laughs.

In November, Hyatt also added 28 additional meeting rooms in the Pedway space, as well as new ceilings, new wall coverings and new finishings. Feilen says the “final” step is installing permanent signage from the ceiling, directing users to certain rooms.

“I think it’s very huge,” says Feilen, about the renovations. “For eight or 10 years a large portion of the Pedway …. looked like it was impoverished. Now you walk through there and it’s a lively, brightly lit, occupied space. It does a lot for the complex.”

Cloud Gate’s “blue cage” still in limbo

After a series of setbacks, the status of a 12-foot-wide blue domed sculpture in Millennium Park is uncertain. The sculpture, called “Summer Vault” is located near the south east corner of Cloud Gate and was due to be removed in April 2016.

“It seems entirely forgotten by anyone who could do something about it,” says architect Paul Preissner, designer of “Summer Vault.”

Originally designed to be a lakefront food kiosk, “Summer Vault” was selected by the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial while still incomplete.

“There were still parts of the designs that weren’t finished,” says Preissner, who says that an interior table and cabinetry would make it more “functional” as a service kiosk.

Restrictions on food vendors in Millennium Park eliminated the option of using “Summer Vault” for commerce.

On a late February weeknight, what looked like brown animal tracks covered the floor of “Summer Vault,” next to leaves and sticks. Scuff marks dotted the walls and peeling paint could be spotted on “Summer Vault’s” screens, exposing black metal. Black plastic zip ties secured the front and back doors.

“They’re supposed to have formal locking mechanisms,” said Preissner. “Because it’s in Chase Promenade there’s a lot of limitation as to what they can do in terms of service. They don’t want any construction occurring.”

“Summer Vault” was due to be shipped to Chicago’s Washington Park last April, but Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th) blocked the move, after constituents complained about “Summer Vault’s” size.

For now, the city is still cagey about where “Summer Vault” will go.   

“I’m not sure how long it will remain,” says DCASE spokesperson Mary May.

Crown Fountain undergoes repairs

A city spokesperson says Millennium Park’s Crown Fountain is getting more than its usual winter repairs this season.

“Several granite and glass blocks are being repaired, and the technology is being upgraded,” says DCASE spokesperson Mary May.

Clear plastic tarps encase each fountain, while blue fencing blocks off the pedestrian area in between.

May says the Michigan Avenue fountains, completed in 2004, will be turned on around April 15.

Asian film fest begins three-month run

The Asian Pop-Up Cinema film festival will return to AMC Theatres and the Cultural Center this month, bringing the Far East to within walking distance of Lakeshore East.

From March until May, the festival will present 18 films from seven countries, including Mongolia, China, Vietnam and Tibet.

Ten of the screenings will be free.

“We are like a little soldier,” says festival director Sophia Wong, about the fast-growing festiva in its third year.

Wong emphasized the festival’s focus on dramas versus martial arts films, saying that the programming “moves beyond stereotypes.” Wong says AMC and the Cultural Center appealed as festival anchors for their proximity to a “large” population of Asian professionals. Other screenings will take place at smaller venues downtown.

Tickets are $10 for regular screenings and $15 for films with special Q&As.

Members of the New Eastside Neighbors Meetup receive a discount for the March 29 screening of “My Egg Boy” with the discount code ESmeetup.

www.asianpopupcinema.org/tickets

Light-up seesaws coming to Navy Pier

Fifteen glow-in-the-dark seesaws will be coming to Navy Pier’s Polk Bros. Park from March 10 to May 12. The seesaws produce an audible tone when they teeter.

The installation, called “Impulse,” toured a handful of cities, including Brussels, London and Montreal, before settling down in Chicago.

City Winery debuts Riverwalk domes

City Winery says it will open three heated private domes on the Riverwalk, available for sipping wine under the skyline at $100-$150. The see-through domes will be open March 17-April 30 and include a carafe of wine, cheese and charcuterie.

Sessions last 90 minutes. The domes, open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, can accommodate groups of two to six.

www.citywinery.com/chicago

— Tricia Parker, Staff Writer

February news

AL HODZIC NAMED BLU AQUA EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR

Al Hodzic, New Eastside News’ December Doorperson of the Month, continues to earn high neighborhood honors.

Al Hodzic

At a January 24 company party, Hodzic, 22, learned he was named Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel’s 2016 Employee of the Year.

“I feel like the man of the year,” Hodzic joked. “I wanted it, but I was humble about it.”

Hodzic says he heard rumors he’d been nominated, but didn’t believe the hype until he received a teardrop-shaped trophy at the party.

“It’s really cool to be recognized for my work,” Hodzic says. “And I love all the people I’m surrounded by.”

NEIGHBORS FILE COMPLAINTS OVER WANDA AFTER-HOURS NOISE

Seven complaints have been lodged with Alderman Reilly’s office since December over after-hours construction noise at the Wanda site, according to office spokesperson Martha Donnelly.

“[The developer and construction team] were warned,” says Donnelly. “We let them know [they could] face very big fines.”

The Wanda Vista Tower

According to Donnelly, a city ordinance is in place banning loud construction work between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Seven years ago, Ald. Reilly helped pass a law, upping noise violation fees from $1,000 to $10,000.

“When we get complaints we take them very seriously,” says Donnelly.

Neighbors living over the Wanda construction site report various issues with nighttime noise, from construction dragging on past 8 p.m., to machinery starting up in the early morning hours, around 2 or 3 a.m.

“They started doing extra work around midnight or 1 a.m.,” says a Shoreham resident, who wished to remain anonymous. “For some reason there’s a bunch of noise.” The resident says he contacted McHugh Construction and 311. 

“The noise of taking down Wacker Drive is huge,” adds a Shoreham neighbor. “It’s not healthy to have noise like that.”

HARBOR POINT, 400 E. RANDOLPH BYPASS SPRINKLERS

A new city ordinance has exempted both Harbor Point and 400 E. Randolph Condominium from installing sprinkler systems, after both buildings passed a rigorous inspection. The Sprinkler Installation Ordinance, which went into effect in January, allows pre-1975 residential high-rises that pass a “Life Safety Evaluation” (LSE) to bypass putting in sprinklers. Harbor Point was built in 1973 and 400 E. Randolph in 1963.

“These buildings did what they had to do,” said Department of Buildings spokesperson Mimi Simon, adding that buildings who passed met both Department of Buildings and Fire Department standards.

Harbor Point Condominium

According to Simon, 400 E. Randolph passed the inspection in March of 2016 and Harbor Point (155 N. Harbor Dr.) in August of 2016. City data indicates that 400 E. Randolph had failed a previous Life Safety inspection in November 2014, and Harbor Point had failed an inspection in December of 2014. The fire department was unable to confirm whether there had been any recent fires at Harbor Point or 400 E. Randolph.

The current inspection included a review of the buildings’ two-way communications system, elevators, smoke detectors and stairwells.

While Simon called the 18-category inspection “intense,” fire safety advocates say buildings without sprinklers may still be at risk.

“A sprinkler system is like a 24-7 fireman in your living unit,” says Michael McGreal, owner of Firedyne Engineering, a local fire safety consulting company. “Sprinklers are the number-one best mode of fire protection that any building can have. Not having that [is] to their disadvantage.”

A report from the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s website says a fire in an unsprinklered high-rise is “far more likely to result in casualties and property damage than one in a sprinklered building”; the report recommends all high-rises install sprinklers. Sprinklers are individually activated by heat from a fire, not smoke. The heat typically shatters a glass tube containing a buildup of water. McGreal says sprinklers contain about “80 to 90 percent” of high-rise fires.

Despite the potential risks, George Rodarakis, a 36-year resident of 400 E. Randolph, says he feels safe.

“I think this building is more than protected,” says Rodarakis, adding that the smoke detectors add to the feeling of security.

Representatives from both Harbor Point and 400 E. Randolph declined to comment on whether or not the buildings will install sprinklers in the future.

SHEN YUN COMES TO NEW EASTSIDE

Chinese troupe Shen Yun will touch down at the Harris Theater February 11–19, bringing with it a compelling spectacle — and a hint of controversy.

Founded in 2006 in New York City, the nonprofit Shen Yun says its mission is to “revive traditional culture” through its performances. Its present show, whose 2017 tagline is “Experience a Divine Culture,” features dancing, music and light acrobatics while exploring China’s 5,000-year history. On its website, the troupe openly affiliates with Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa), the popular Chinese spiritual movement involved in demonstrations and protests around the world.

“Practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual meditation practice, prominently perform with Shen Yun,” says a Shen Yun press release. “Moreover, the show depicts . . . the violence perpetrated against Falun Gong practitioners and their peaceful resistance.”

Shen Yun claims that the Chinese government has “attempted to pressure” theaters to cancel Shen Yun performances, “stalking Shen Yun performers during tour,” and tampering with Shen Yun vehicles. Both Shen Yun and the Harris Theater declined to comment on the matter.

Banned in China, Shen Yun has more than 100 U.S. performances scheduled for 2017, according to its website.

Tickets $70-180, showtimes vary. visit www.harristheaterchicago.org for more information.

MARIANO’S, CVS ADD SHOPPING BAG TAX

Now may be a good time to go green at the grocery store.

Beginning February 1, Mariano’s added a 7-cent city bag tax to each paper and plastic bag at checkout, joining retailers across the city. Certain bags are exempt from the tax, including liquor bags and pharmacy bags. Mariano’s double paper bags will cost a total of 14 cents. Of the tax, Mariano’s will keep two out of the seven cents, while the rest will go to the city.

“Like any change, communication is key,” says store director Megan Gleeson. “[The change] is not within our control.”

To help ease the burden, Mariano’s is offering customers a 5-cent credit for each reusable bag they use. Mariano’s reusable bags cost between $1 and $6, Gleeson says. Two weeks before the tax went into effect, Mariano’s shoppers seemed open to the idea.

“We’d be more inclined to use the reusable bags already in our closet,” said Amanda Mountain of the Shoreham. “It’s probably better for the environment.”

“[Taxes] are already high,” said Mountain’s friend, Elena Pitt, of 222 N. Columbus. “It is what it is. What’s a few extra cents?”

CVS at 205 N. Columbus also confirmed it will be adding the tax. Bockwinkel’s declined to comment.

SALVATION ARMY RESUMES PICKUP / INCREASES FREQUENCY
OF LAKESHORE EAST PICKUPS

The Salvation Army says it will resume monthly pickups from New Eastside beginning in February, after sporadic service since May. It also will increase its regular routes into New Eastside, giving neighbors more opportunities to shed unwanted items.

“We reserved space in our routing so we can get there on a much more frequent basis, up to four times a week if needed,” says Salvation Army administrator John Aren. “We can get there more often than we ever had before.” Aren says the increased service will cut down the wait time for pickup, which can sometimes run up to two weeks.   

The service will occur the first Saturday of every month, from 9 a.m. to noon, on Lower Field Boulevard near South Water Street. The Salvation Army will collect clothing, accessories and furniture at the pickup. Residents from all buildings are welcome to donate items.

Neighbors who would like to arrange individual pickups should call 1-800-SATRUCK, or log in at www.satruck.org.

Donations are tax-deductible.

— Tricia Parker, Staff Writer

January News

Columbia Yacht Club sails into 125th year

For fans of the Columbia Yacht Club, 2017 will be the “Year of the Bash.”

“We want to celebrate [our] 125th anniversary each day, at varying levels,” says General Manager Nick Philp. “There will be multiple events every month — all kinds of craziness.”

From its humble beginnings as a windswept shed in 1892, the club — now permanently anchored on the M.V. Abegweit in DuSable Harbor — emerged as a force in the city’s philan- thropic and sailing scene over the past century.

To celebrate the CYC’s unconventional history, Philp said the club will divvy up the year into five segments. Each will correspond to an era—the club’s beginnings as a shack, then a floating clubhouse, and finally its three nautical incarnations: the Pierre Marquette, the S.S. Florida, and the 372-foot Abegweit.

Philp says most festivities will be limited to members, but that a Pirates’ party on Saturday, Feb. 4 will offer neighbors a chance to experience the club’s bounty. New Eastsiders interested in attending should call (312) 938-3625.

Bockwinkel’s Harbor Point shelves plans to expand

Grocery store Bockwinkel’s Harbor Point says it will not pursue plans to expand, citing a series of “roadblocks.”

“We did [want to expand]… but we don’t have any intention to at this time,” a manager told New Eastside News.

According to Harbor Point’s December newsletter, Bockwinkel’s owner Jerry Bockwinkel made multiple requests in 2016 to the Harbor Point Condominium Association to expand. The first was in May of 2016, when he asked to expand into the empty Stunard commercial space to the right of the store, toward Randolph Street. According to the newsletter, the expansion plans would give Bockwinkel’s greater access to Harbor Point’s sun deck. In June, the board’s lawyers advised the board not to permit the request.

In October, a request to expand in the other direction, toward “the corridor in front of the Pedway doors,” was again denied by the board’s lawyers.

According to the newsletter, after the second request, Bockwinkel posted a notice asking the board give him permission to expand, or to terminate his lease Dec. 31. Neighbors report seeing a notice posted earlier this year, in Bockwinkel’s window, offering detailed expansion plans and explaining the benefits of the expansion. That sign has since been taken down.

Harbor Point property manager Tifanni Sterdivant says that the condo board “was not opposed to expansion” and that she had reached out to Bockwinkel to meet with him in January, but hasn’t yet heard a reply. Sterdivant, who signed on as property manager

in October, says she hasn’t yet seen actual plans for expansion, and does not know the end date of Bockwinkel’s lease. Mr. Bockwinkel couldn’t be reached for comment.

“It would be premature to say there’ll be no expansion,” Sterdivant said.

In November, the condo board formed a “Commercial Tenant Relations Committee” to address any ongoing issues with Bockwinkel’s.

The smallest of Bockwinkel’s three Chicago locations, Bockwinkel’s Harbor Point has been serving New Eastsiders since 1995.

333 N. Michigan nears end of $50 million facelift

Standing proudly over the Chicago River, Art Deco beauty 333 N. Michi- gan is close to being fully restored to its former glory — with a few modern touches.

“The bulk of [the renovation] is done, but [pieces] are ongoing,” says Denny McGann, an agent with property man- ager MB Real Estate, about a $50 million renovation project begun in 2012.

Renovations to the 35-story skyscraper, built in 1928 by Holabird & Root, include a refurbished entrance and lobby, a new amenity floor, and new luxury suites on floors one through three. Street-level tenants include Fannie Mae, Starbucks and the Chicago Blackhawks store.

Separate bike and pedestrian paths for Lakefront trail

The Chicago Park District received a $12 million donation from Ken Griffin, Illinois’s richest man, to separate the bike and pedestrian paths of the Lakefront Trail. The currently shared trail presents safety issues where numerous accidents involving bikes and pedestrians are reported each year. The new paths will be completed in 2018.

New Eastside News racks at Village Market removed

New Eastside News racks will no longer be located at the Village Market on levels one and three. A representative from Magellan Development Group who manages the Village Market, requested the removal of the racks citing maintenance issues. A new location for racks is currently being sought.

Aqua elevator closed until January 5

The Aqua Pedway elevator connecting the west end of Lake Shore East Park to the Pedway and Upper Columbus will be closed for repairs until at least Jan. 5, according to Magellan. Magellan says it is working on replacing a “very rare” spare part.

A sign posted on the elevator encourages pedestrians to take The Tides public parking garage elevator to level six, which provides access to Upper Columbus and Wacker. The new route requires pedestrians to navigate through three sets of doors, none of which have an “automatic” handicap button wheel- chair users can push.

“If you use a wheelchair you have to be inventive,” says New Eastside Associ- ation of Residents (NEAR) president Richard Ward. “But you shouldn’t have to be inventive in downtown Chicago.”

In November, Magellan completed repairs to the Lancaster elevator’s lights.

Construction project leaves muddy trail in Lake Shore East Park

An eight-foot construction project beginning at the western edge of Lake Shore East Park, and stretching toward the foot of the grand staircase, has stripped a wide swath of grass and left a muddy “smile” in its wake.

“It’s just ugly, that’s all,” says Harla Hutchinson of The Buckingham.

Throughout most of December crisscrossing boards covered the project, until the boards were removed on Dec. 20. Magellan confirmed that the work was not “Wanda related.”

“It [was] temporary electrical work being conducted in the park by ComEd,” says Magellan Community Relations Director Vanessa Casciano.

— Tricia Parker, Staff Writer

 

New sculpture unveiled at the Fairmont

Texas-based husband and wife artists build newFairmont sculpture 

A 1,200 pound, 10-foot copper patina panel featuring some of Chicago’s greatest historical achievements was recently installed at the Columbus Dr. entrance to the Fairmont hotel.

The piece was conceived and built by Dallas-based sculptor Brad Oldham and his wife, artist Christy Coltrin.

img_2183c“Christy and I tell stories through sculpture,” explains Oldham. “This is a story we wanted to tell for the Fairmont Hotel about the history of Chicago.”

The couple has completed “about eight” projects for Fairmont parent company, Strategic Hotels. Many of them appear in downtown Chicago. Oldham credits their collaboration for the success.

“We both sort of concept and work on the design together,” he explains. “She’s more of a writer and I’m more hands-on. I sculpt and handle the fabrication and installation.”

Along the way, Oldham has grown to “love” the Windy City.”

“Chicago is built on the backs of broad shoulders,” he says. “It is a beacon in the United States.”

— Daniel Patton SPACER03-01

FedEx Office at Illinois Center introduces eBay Valet Drop-Off Program    

Consumers looking to make money on eBay from their unwanted clutter but unwilling to go through the bother of selling it themselves can take advantage of the eBay Valet Drop-Off Program now available at the FedEx Office store in the Illinois Center.

The eBay Valet Drop-Off Program, a recently formed partnership between eBay and more than 1,600 FedEx Office locations nationwide, builds on eBay’s existing Valet Program. 

efed0001-01Under the eBay Valet Drop-Off Program, sellers are able to bring items worth at least $25 to a participating FedEx Office store. The eBay Valet Drop-Off Program accepts items from a “limited number of product categories,” according to a Business Wire news release. 

FedEx.com indicates that top-selling items include electronics,  musical instruments,  antiques and collectibles,  high-end clothing and shoes, sporting goods and small appliances.

“Consumers can even sell bulky items  — like golf clubs — alleviating the hassle of packing them up,” said Shawn, an assistant manager at the Illinois Center FedEx Office, who describes the service as “set it and forget it.”

According to Shawn, once customers drop their items off at FedEx Office, a team member will securely pack and ship the items to an eBay Valet. The eBay Valet will then photograph, list and sell the items. Once an item sells, the Valet will ship the item to a buyer. Unsold items are returned free of charge, typically within one week after the auction closes.

“Customers have to have a PayPal account,” to participate in the program, he added.

The service costs nothing for sellers upfront. On each item sold, FedEx and eBay will share a commission ranging from 20 to 40 percent. 

In addition to professionally packing and shipping items, FedEx Office team members can help new eBay users set up their accounts and research comparable prices to get an estimated value for their items.

For more information, visit FedEx Office, 111 E. Wacker Drive, (312) 938-0678, http://www.fedex.com/us/office/ebay-drop-off.html

— Shanti Nagarkatti

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New paved pedestrian path extends from Lancaster to Lake Michigan   

There is a new paved pathay providing direct route to the Lakefront Trail. Previously, pedestrians would access the lake by walking on an unpaved gravel path adjacent to the empty lot behind Lancaster.

— Angela Gagnon

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Wacker Drive street closures in effect

According to a memo issued by the Magellan corporation, McHugh Construction implemented street closures on Upper Wacker Drive due to Wanda Vista Tower construction on Friday, October 28.

Details and a graphic overview of the modifications are listed below. The closure will be in effect for the duriation of the construciton.Construction is expected to be completed in 2020.

  • Upper Wacker east bound lane will become a two-way street (currently a one-way turnaround).
  • Upper Wacker going west (north side) will be closed from the turnaround to the Columbus light.
  • Wacker ramp up from Mid-Wacker to Upper Wacker will remain open, but no left turn allowed onto Columbus. Must continue west bound on Upper Wacker.
  • Wacker ramp down to Mid-Wacker will remain open (one will be able to take a right from Upper Columbus to the Mid-Wacker ramp).
  • New traffic pattern striping and road barriers will be installed.
  • All busses will be rerouted to Columbus Drive.
  • Access to The Coast and the North Road (between Swissotel/Aqua/Coast) will also remain open. One can now take a left from North Road on to Upper Wacker to exit west bound.

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Lack of lighting on LSE park stairs — residents concerned   

The New Eastside News has received multiple reports of inadequate lighting for several flights of stairs connecting Lake Shore East Park to Harbor Drive.

According to local residents and property mangers, the darkness on the east of the Lake Shore East Park may even be responsible for an alleged assault and robbery of a pregnant woman by a group of young males who pushed her to the ground as she exited the elevator and then robbed her of her cell phone.

img952419cA nearby building manager stated that police were notified of the alleged incident but did not find sufficient cause for an investigation.

The manager further stated that several attempts to identify exactly who or what is responsible for maintaining the lights had been made, but to no avail.

Besides the City of Chicago, the manager reported, a handful of building management and real estate companies had been contacted, but none claimed responsibility for the structure.

New Eastside News’ confirms that at least three of the five flights of stairs do not appear to provide sufficient lighting. The way is not only unfit for pedestrians, the investigation concluded, but it is also for domesticated animals.

“I saw a man try to take his dog down the steps,” said Matthew Reiss after reviewing the area. “And the dog wasn’t having it.”

Three separate property managers confirmed that the structure is not the responsibility of the companies for which they work. Each of the managers stated that they were aware of the situation and had also made attempts to find a resolution.

“I just want the lights fixed,” wrote New Eastside resident Chris Galvin, who originally notified New Eastside News of the problem.

Update: As of November 3, the lights have been fixed.

— Daniel Patton

GEMS WINS MIES VAN DER ROHE AWARD

GEMS World Academy – Chicago received the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Citation of Merit for Innovation from the Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects during a special ceremony at the school on October 12.

img_0344awebCiting the colorful and innovative vertical orientation of the building designed by bkL Architecture, the AIA Illinois jury remarked that it “showed real creativity by inserting a complex educational facility in a dense urban context.”

According to a press release from GEMS World Academy – Chicago, “The Mies van der Rohe Citation of Merit for Innovation is one of five design awards that AIA Illinois presents every year.”

To arrange a campus “coffee tour,” please visit www.gemsworldacademy-chicago.com or call (312) 809-8910.

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Cultural Mile hosts Halloween gathering and parade Oct. 22   

The Chicago Cultural Mile’s second annual Halloween Gathering and Parade will fill Millennium Park with costumery, floats, performances, and thousands of guests on Oct. 22.

A Daytime Festival will occupy the Sir George Solti Garden from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The two-hour Spectacle Parade starts at 6 p.m. at Columbus Dr. and Balbo Ave. and proceeds south to Monroe St.

The family-friendly event includes arts and crafts workshops, gigantic puppetry and professional fire-breathers.

Last year’s event, which involved some 4,000 participants, attracted an estimated audience of 200,000, according to Chicagoist.com.

Preparations for the parade represent a year-round effort for the Chicago Cultural Mile, a nonprofit organization that was formed to celebrate and promote the stretch of Michigan Ave. from Wacker Dr. to Roosevelt Rd.

www. chicagoculturalmile.org

— Daniel Patton

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Mayor, Alderman help break Wanda ground

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Brendan Reilly spoke of prestige, jobs, and convenience while offering gratitude to China-based commercial property company Wanda Group at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Wanda Vista Tower on September 7.

img_9314a2webAddressing attendees from a stage overlooking the skyscraper’s future Wacker Dr. location, the Mayor informed the crowd that “the largest real estate investment by a Chinese firm in the United States of America is going to be right here in the city of Chicago.”

In addition to the thousands of jobs that the building’s construction will require, he continued, nearly 500 permanent jobs will exist after it is finished.

During his remarks, Alderman Reilly declared that the project would also include additional “much needed improvements” such as “connecting Upper Wacker to Waterside Dr.”

Upon its estimated completion in 2019, the Wanda Vista will rise 1,186 feet and become the city’s third tallest building.

— Daniel Patton

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Council on Global Affairs moves to New Eastside

After relying on outside venues for 20-plus years, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs finally came “home” to the New Eastside Sept. 7.

The organization’s new state-of-the-art Conference Center directly off Prudential One’s lobby at 130 E. Randolph St. makes accessing the world’s preeminent leaders a cinch.

logoThe city’s most prestigious think tank acquired the new space due to growing demand and a need for technology.

“Our main intention was to host events,” said Council COO Jenny Cizner. “We kind of feel like we’re in the middle of [things] here.”

The only “downside” is the frequent need for even more space.

According to Cizner, about 80 percent of last year’s programming attracted crowds of approximately 200 people.

For New Eastsiders, the prospect of direct access to the Council’s dynamic roster of dignitaries, thought leaders, and academics is a thrill.

“I had a member from the New Eastside say that the Council moving here was ‘the greatest thing ever to happen to me,’” laughs Cizner.

Nearly all events are open to the public. CCGA members enjoy reduced event fees. Memberships range from $40 for students to $100 for regular members. Approximately a third of its 7,000 members are aged 25 to 40.

Judging from a recent “gender equity” luncheon, an eager contingent will be right on their heels.

“I’ve been to a lot of conferences,” said Nicole Wojnoski, a junior at Whitney Young Magnet School, “and this was great. It was smaller, so I felt more connected and engaged.”

Students from neighboring tables also felt happy to attend.

“It’s a nice place to actually see what’s going on in the world,” said GCE Lab School freshman Lucas Meidinger.

For more information, visit www.thechicagocouncil.org.

— Tricia Parker

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Wilson Sporting Goods makes new HQ in New Eastside

102-year Chicago firm Wilson Sporting Goods announced in September that it would move its global headquarters to Prudential Plaza. According to Crain’s, the 400-person firm signed a 12-year lease and will move from its current location near O’Hare in late 2017.

— Daniel Patton

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Sports Summit brings the business of pro sports to New Eastside   

On October 5 at the Hyatt Regency, the inaugural Chicago Sports Summit will combine big league marketing directors, medical specialists, and agents to discuss the current and future state of business in Chicago sports.

summit02-01“The objective was to get all of the different professional organizations in the same place at the same time,” explains Dr. Brian Cole, who founded the event.

Dr. Cole is team physician for the Chicago Bulls and associate team physician for the White Sox. He will moderate one of three panels during the event, which runs from 7 a.m. to noon.

Titled, “Keeping Our Athletes Healthy: The Risks, Liabilities and Economics,” the panel will tap into his experience as host of popular ESPN radio program, “Sports Medicine.”

“The intesting things are how injuries affect players and the dynamics of taking care of professional athletes,” he explains. “You have a lot of stakeholders: the agent, owner, GM, trainer, family.”

Other notable guests include Chicago White Sox Director of Marketing & Analytics Beth Grabowski, who will be part of a discussion about marketing and franchising professional sports.

“Our goal is to make sure that the game day experience is as enjoyable as possible,” she says.

Besides ensuring the ongoing success of Free T-shirt Thursdays and Friday Fireworks, she helped secure the Guinness Record for greatest number of dogs at a park when the Sox hosted 1,122 four-legged fans at U.S. Cellular Field over the summer.

Admission to the Summit is $200.

www.ChicagoSportsSummit.com

— Daniel Patton

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