Quality of Life Hot and Continuing Topics including Parks

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Writer Gary Ossewaarde

Return links: Home. Hot Topics home. Site contents.
The other Hot Topics Community Issues sections: Accessibility. Affordability. Development Projects.
Schools. University of Chicago
Beach pollution/swim bans and how to find out if your beach is safe and open today.
Page on the merger of Police District 021 into 002.
WALK AND ROLL 55th St. sidewalk survey 2012 final report.

2014 street cleaning schedules. 5th ward schedule is all the way down. https://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/streets/supp_info/Sanitation/Street%20Sweeping%202014/Ward4_2014Schedule.pdf

Quality of life is a big and diffuse subject. Hyde Parkers love to complain, especially that Hyde Park as they knew it is going down the drain, while at the same time extolling the community as unique and certainly the best in the world. Best of worlds and worst of worlds. And they've been doing that since the 19th century, or at least the battle over annexation to Chicago and the evolution of many Hyde Parks. Of course, there is real basis for both views. And the emphasis partly depends on one's memories and one's vision of Hyde's future, and what would "fix" things. Short looks at quality issues can be found in Quality and in the Tracking Community Trends pages. Observation: Many of the things that become "news" then quickly dive off the radar are quality issues. So are many things that don't make the news but stand behind what happens or long term trends, like shadows lost in sun. And strongly voiced objection to changes or proposals are often based on expected or feared impact on quality of life or neighborhood or block character.


See changes to UCPol. Dept. and accreditation standards, release of encounter and proliling info et al- in the Safety updates page.

Statement from Alderman William D. Burns regarding the proposed closure of the 21st District.

Ald. Burns and others had a great deal of skepticism and certainly wanted a voice in how the new beats are drawn and how the force of the two districts integrated or kept in place. On Nov. 30, 2011, Ald. Burns said in the Herald he now supports and seeks to make the change work.

"On Oct. 12 of this yer, Mauyor Rahm Emanuel announced his intention to consoledate three police districts to reduce the total number of police districts from thwnty-five to twenty-two. Included in the consolidation plan was the 21st Diostrict which serves the Hyded Park, Kenwood, North Kenwood-Oakland, Douglas and Gap communities. I initially expressed strong reservations regarding the proposal. In the weeks betweenthe mayor's budget address and final council action on the budget, four community meetings were held throughout the ward where the administration and the Chicago Police Department addresed the community on the consolidation plan. As a consequence of those meetings and the commitments made by the administration I decided to offer my support for the plan. These are the following commitments that have been made by the administration:

  1. The 21st District will be converted into a Park district field house for Dunbar Park.
  2. Management of tthe Chicago Police Department wil allow beat oficers and other CPD personnel who currently work in the 21st district to remain in the district - including CAPS beat officers.
  3. The consolidation of the two districts will result in the deployment of twenty additional police officers.
  4. The beats of the newly consolidated 2nd district will be realigned will more efficiently align police resources with people, crime, and public safety concerns.
  5. The Police Department will participate in additional community meetings as the consolidation moves forward next year.

Finally, I have confidence in Superintendent Garry McCarthy's strategies to reduce crime. The Superintendent has a proven track record from both New York City and New Jersey."

Some other "quality" matters that are "hot" at least to parts of the community.

(Have you noticed.... Dog droppings has improved, partly due to enforcement?)

State of 53rd Street. Too many vacant properties; too chopped up by open or non retail space; too many one or two story buildings; too many really old and obsolete and not kept t up and unattractive; rent too high; some businesses don't make the looks and service appealing to customers; street scape etc. get fixed up but soon look ground down again; lots of homeless and visitors from other areas, too many franchise or non unique businesses, Lake Park and Harper Court with too low land uses and not used to take advantage of nearby transit as well as opportunities for height, density, larger businesses and (Lake Park) as an auto-oriented street (and in poor shape for drivers or walkers), limited parking.

But counterpoints are often cited--low scale and low pace (with just enough exceptions like HP Bank), local and unusual businesses and restaurants that really know how to niche or take advantage of a very diverse clientele, city designation as a pedestrian friendly and transit oriented neighborhood street. Many of the expenditures of the TIF such as on streetscape, business facade and improvement, and hiring CARA/Cleanslate were intended address concerns about quality.

Likewise demand for enforcement of general neighborhood quality standards were behind complaints by organizations and residents about scaffolding on the Harper Theater or the teardown lots at 53rd McMobil and 53rd Cornell or those that have led to various improvement efforts with the Metra stations, viaducts and raised right-of-way, and some parks They also spurred as various gardening projects around the neighborhood (53rd Lake Park being one). Likewise, some of the arguments to either save or get rid of Harper Court and Hyde Park Co-Op were really about what makes quality.