Quality of life issues

This page is presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its website www.hydepark.org.
Share your concerns, good vibes, ideas. Help support our work: Join the Conference and its committees.

Return to home. Quality of Life Hot Topics. Accessibility Hot Topics. Affordability Hot Topics. Hot Topics and Community Issues home.
See a report from the Older Women's League Access and Transportation Committee.

HPKCC Returns to its Roots with a Workshop on Block Clubs (Visit Urban Renewal block clubs and HPKCC and Why Block Clubs?
On Saturday, June 22 from 10 am to noon, join HPKCC members, the HPKCC WhistleSTOP/Safety Committee, and your neighbors at the Nichols Park Field House, 1355 E. 53rd St., for a workshop on forming block clubs, and crime-prevention techniques.
The workshop will be presented by CAPS community organizer Faleesa Square. Local police have also been invited to attend.
From the 1950's to the 1970's, HPKCC promoted the formation of some 60 block clubs in Hyde Park.
HPKCC initiated the WhistleSTOP program in 1972, and reinstituted it along with the University of Chicago Police in 1988. The Conference still sells whistles, and they will be available at this event.

Most of the pages in this site actually deal with quality of life or neighborhood character issues. Find these pages from Neighborhood (including new: Payday Loans) or Home. This page serves as a log of problems or improvements that may impact neighborhood quality of life, the central concern of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. A key concern is the spate of condo conversions and proposals for high rises (see that page). Persons with Disabilities.
Shortcut to Obama Effect, Olympics as conceived in early 2009.
Index to this page.

Crime: See Robberies, Crime Spike page, incl. Ald. Hairston on Crime-CHA-lack of police & services. Visit Safe Traffic Transit and Walks concern. (People appalled at walks not cleaned of snow and ice.)

Walk and Roll 55th St. sidewalk survey final report.

Zoning changes proposed. Local Option Liquor zoning changes.

From the Older Women's League Summer Fest 2009

Principal speaker Maurine Schenburger of the City of Chicago pedestrian program described the many services and protections/rights of seeing impaired persons, including those (and other-impaired) with service animals.

She then dealt with the vexing problem of snow removal in sidewalks, crosswalks and curb and to-door access, and the responsibilities of both residents an business owners/operators. She read from printouts of the City ordinance on the same (available from the city) and a doorknob hanger that is also available including through the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. (The latter, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, OWL, and likely the Disabilities Task Force are gearing up to distribute these, get out the word on calling 311 (which has a code on snow removal) to get snow and clearance where access is blocked on public way, and police removal. A community meeting is also being considered.)

Ms. Schenburger also gave information and led discussion on bicycle safety- for bicyclists and for those they encounter, including on approved safety and warning gear. This is also likely to be a major focus in conjunction with University orientation et al of the named organizations this fall. At the August HPKCC board meeting, all emphasized that the approach has to be comprehensive- safety and thoughtfulness for all using the public way.

Party on Midway stirs neighbors (from Conference Reporter August 2007)
Motorcycle noise is again a source of citizen complaints. And Doctors Hospital plans have raised alarms.
Visit Doctors Hospital page for discussion of a proposal to which many object on quality of life grounds. And South East Hyde Park page for a high-impact area.

Visit the Sale of Harper Court page for discussion of perceived effects on quality and character by HC's possible impending sale and "HPKCC says" possible outcome scenarios. (Comment us at hpkcc@aol.com) (Background of Harper Court). See also Development and Business Climate.
What the Disabilities (and Seniors) Task Force is doing. Business Information Packet.

Sale of Harper Court-and Harper Court Papers--see letters on how this (and the whole controversy) is felt to diminish neighborhood quality--or provide room for those being crowded out.
This has reopened a larger discussion in the above pages on why so many shop outside the neighborhood, the weak variety and quality of retail in the neighborhood and what can be done. There is also discussion of the effect of no-process on the Harper Court question on neighborhood quality.

What changes will be wrought by the large acquisition of rental housing property by MAC, known for upgrading or upscaling rental housing? see in Antheus, Development.

Visit Discussing Neighborhood Goals for more issue pages.
Visit the Harper Theater RFP page. You may want to comment us hpkcc@aol.com.
Visit a special alert page concerning a graffiti artist doing much damage.

Be alert for bedbugs on the rise.

HPKCC Public Discussion, "What's Right, What's Wrong about Hyde Park?" October 19. Watch for a Community White Paper. Preliminary finds in the What's Right...Wrong page. Topic summaries: HPKCC Community Safety.., The Point, [more coming]

Here: a litany from two to four years ago. (We will go through it and see what is still of relevance.)

Discussions of relations of students and business and gulf between youth and adults in Hyde Park are in Business/Community and Students/Youth and News of Schools-Kenwood. Discussion of students and the recent robberies/batteries is in the Robberies page. A few resident's thoughts that reflect on these issues as "neighborhood quality" issues will be quoted here. Yours are welcome: hpkcc@aol.com.

Meetings and opportunities

April 21, Saturday, 8:30 refreshts-noon. Ald. Will Burns has convened a renewal of the 53RD STREET VISIONING PROCESS- what is the reality and progress today, what do we want to have and how do we make it sustainable? With UC, the City departments, Chicago Park District. At Nichols Park fieldhouse, 1355 E. 53rd St. Register by April 13 at http://www.53rdstreetvisioningworkshop.eventbrite.com. Flyer.

What neighbors said about quality of life in Hyde Park-Kenwood at an October public discussion on What's Right/What's Wrong with Hyde Park-Kenwood?

(See whole report in What's Right/Wrong page.)

Quality of life, character of community, “broken windows,” involvement/engagement

· Table 1 Involved and responsible leadership and neighbors
· Table 1 Community involvement, concern, and communication
· Table 2 Character of neighborhood
· Table 3 Maintain character of neighborhood
· Table 3 Maintain diversity
· Table 4 Public debate
· Table 4 Diversity
· Table 5 Ethnic diversity and Interfaith Council

Want Changed
· Table 1 increase early evening activities for teens and adults, make sure t hey can get there safely
· Table 2 Commercial improvement
· Table 3 Entertainment for older children and adults
· Table 4 Improve poor management of public spaces, e.g., no bike riding on sidewalks, no panhandling, cleaner business district (count as 3?)
· Table 4 Youth involvement
· Table 5 Better communication of what’s available (a process issue?)
· Table 5 Better transportation at night

Comments (Most of what’s in Safety, Affordable, Density, Transportation, Parks, Schools are really quality of life issues.)
· Entertainment for adults 25+
· More variety of restaurants
· Filth
· Lack of community-wide pride
· A forum/training session on how to be a good neighbor: --Keep your front/alley clean;--What to do/how to respond if you see a crime; --Curb your dog.
· ? Lack of alderperson(s) taking reins (if means in general rather than this mtg.)
· Addressing racism and classism
· …too many Hyde Parkers are snobs about some stuff and choose to ignore important issues.
· Umbrella calendar needed
· (Gestalt: organizations like HPKCC, University not engaged and pushing, doing)


Party in the Parks: "Old Skool House Reunion" Rocks the Neighborhood.

by Jane Ciacci, for the August 2007 The Conference Reporter

On July 7, an event called the 17th Annual Old Skool House Music Reunion occurred on the Midway Plaisance, in the space between the Metra tracks and Stony Island. The nature of the event is explained on its website, www.housemusicreunion.com.

According to the organizers, the event has "outgrown its space" behind the Museum of Science and Industry, and with the support of Alderman Hairston, was moved to this new space. The Park District issued a permit for a stated audience of 500 persons, to an organization which boasts on its website of a crowd exceeding 7,000 last year. This year's attendance must have been at least that many.

This ill-judged move guaranteed an uncomfortable experience for attendees and area residents alike. Arrangements for portable toilets, trash and parking were completely inadequate. Residents were subjected (without any prior notice) to very loud music for over 12 hours, a good deal of air pollution from cars and grills, and were unable to find parking for their own cars. By evening, the size of the crowd swelled, the residents also became concerned with security.

The next day there were piles of garbage everywhere on the ground, including many beer bottles, attesting to the widespread consumption of alcohol on Park District property (which neither the organizers nor the police appeared to be able to control). Long after the event, there were numerous piles of coals, which burned the grass, because no facilities were provided for their disposal. Beer bottles and plastic utensils missed by the cleanup crew, which worked all of the next day, have been ground into the grass. This is a space that people use every day to reach the Metra station, walk their dogs, play soccer, etc.

This is only the latest, and one of the more egregious, recent example of the misuse of the parkland for public events in our neighborhood, although residents living near other parks, such as Washington Park and Burnham Park surely have their stories too. Parks are public property--appropriate spaces should be made available for everyone to enjoy in ways that do not harm others. However, in order for this to happen, several things are required: realistic assessment of the needs of an event on the part of organizers; a high degree of scrutiny by the Park District in the permit process; common sense and consideration for the needs of everyone concerned in the assignment of space for events; and good citizenship in the actions of all of us who make use of the parks.


Jane Ciacci and Ray Kuby in August 1 Herald

We are writing to commend the well written article by Georgia Geis', your staff reporter, titled: MIDWAY PARTY AND AFTERMATH SHOCKS NEIGHBORS, which appeared in the Herald on p. 2, July 18. Georgia showed great initiative gathering information about the event.

In Ray's case, someone from Vista Homes told her that I was the one who first observed the setting up of the event at 6 a.m. on Sunday, who then circulated a copy of the ChosenFew's Chicago Park special evetn permit, and who on Sunday morning, took 44 photos of the trash dump site. Georgia diligently managed to reach Ray while he was on vacation in Stratford, Ontaio, and correctly summarized the essence of their phone conversatins in two paragraphs. Good staff writer!

The onlt point omitted fromher account was Ray's reference to the hundreds of discarded beer bottles left on the site. No misconduct occurred at the event that could be attributed to the consumption of bee, so she correctly focused on the bsic point, the "Trash Disaster." Again, goo journalism.

In Jane's case, Georgia folowed up on her letter and photographs which were sent to Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th) and copied tothe Herald. Georgia asked appropriate, clarifying questions about what had happened and whether the residents in Jane's buildignhad any advance notice of the event. Omitted from Georgia's article was Ray's direct observation that many of the discarded bottled contained intoxicating alcoholic beveragees, a violation of the Park District Rules; this was mentioned in Jane's letter.

We assume from Georgia's interview with Ald. Hairston that "some of the complaints had merit, like delayed trash pickup and the shortage of portable toilets," was acorrect summary with no irony intended and that she did not inadvertly omit Ald. Hairston's apology for the disruption that was caused by the "picnic" or reason for not giving advance notice. So what we have here is both a good example of communication and a failure of comuinication.

To help Ald. Hairston in the future, is many be time to formally organize "The Concerned Citizens of the 39th Precinct" and provide Ald. Hairston with the telephone number, fax number and e-mail address. If she hears about any such future events, she can more easily let us know. With sufficient advance notice, we may even come up with some useful suggestions, such as having some back-up plan for removing the trash, lots of portable toilets, roping off streets for events, similar to that commonly uses on the North Side, and other suggestions. It is now up to the Park District to assess the monetary damage, and move on to more pressing matters affecting the 39th Precinct.

Respectfuly submitted in our individual capacitises as residents of Vista Homes and the Midway Apartment, respectfully.


Some residents have expressed dismay at Hyde Park Club's closure of its senior day care program. The program had beem mostly funded, but was losing that funding and was the most expensive--certainly per user--for the facility. The club said it has made arrngements for most at other (distant) facilities. Some writers to the heald have expressed great disappointment for a loss of service to both the families and the neighborood, where over-60 is the fastest growing sector (as it is in the country). These writers point out that the program was in large part funded and that families would be willing to pay more. They suggest the Club is in danger or losing its motto "A place for everyone" and the neighborhood slipping into unaffordability for seniors.

Hitting a raw nerve: end of hope for a theater?

The University in late 2006 decided to go with a shops development in the former Harper Theater. The university may tout DOC films, but many in the community said it's not the same as a steady run, saying we need an independent theater with a week run, a lit marquee, a lobby with popcorn, and a mix of students and community types.

Hyde Park and Kenwood Food Pantry being reorganized, pressure and demand threaten to overwhelm. October 11 2006 Herald. By Sophie Johnson

Last week's treacherous thunderstorm left..the Hyde Park and Kenwood Community Food Pantry --located in the Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave.,--cut off from the power they needed to supply clients with emergency groceries.

Rev. Susan Johnson and other volunteers were in a frenzy to find another area kitchen to relocate to so their USDA frozen meat wouldn't spoil. They were finally able to move their operations to the Bartlett Dining Commons at the University of Chicago for two days until the church had fully regained power.

Unfortunately, power outages are the least of the problems currently facing the Hyde Park and Kenwood hunger programs. Within the last few years, the Interfaith Council-sponsored Community Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen have fallen into dire financial straits. For the first time since the Food Pantry opened in 1981 (with the Soup Kitchen following suit in 1982), the Interfaith Council can no longer afford to fund these programs.

"Our situation is pretty precarious at the moment," said Johnson, who is spearheading a committee to broaden the support base for the hunger programs in the area. Due to an increase in demand and less food available through the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry have hit the bottom of their remaining finances.

These programs would benefit from a change in governance, Johnson thinks. "I want to see them supported by the community," she said. "This is a reasonably affluent, socially- and economically-diverse community that ought to be able to support its more vulnerable residents."

Johnson and the Hyde Park Union Church--where she is the reverend--will be taking over fiscal management of these programs for two years until a new financial base can be built.

Those who are passionate about the hunger programs are committed to their survival. With 500 people--including those with mild to severe physical or mental disabilities, single parents, and residents between jobs--benefiting from the food pantry, and up to 200 people a day receiving noon meals from the soup kitchen six days a week, these are arguably programs Hyde Park and Kenwood cannot afford to lose. At noon on Monday through Saturday, the Kenwood United Church of Christ is filed with volunteers and guests working together to set up, cook, and serve each other with respect. after the preparation is done and the meal is ready, Senior Minister Leroy Sanders gives a spiritual pep talk before guests and volunteers enjoy their lunchtime meal. Johnson argues that this easygoing, quiet group of people is a portrait of the community at its best. We've never shut down, we've never closed early, [and] we've never run out of food," Johnson said. "I'm not going to let this rough period change that."


Crime concern letters have been filling the papers, and they tie the issue directly to quality of life. Here will be a sampler.They generally start by saying that too much attention is being paid to xyz and not to crime. Attention should be paid also to finding ways to curb crime and make Hyde Park a safe community despite negatives. See Community Safety page and its links.

Jan Hoff says, "Where is the outcry over Hyde Park crime?" March 15

...I witnessed a mugging on Sunday March 5 a t8 p.m. in the 5400 block of South Greenwood Avenue while in Stout Park with my husband and two little boys. As the assailants sped off and the victims ran down the street, my husband realized that a University of Chicago patrol car was parked less than 75 yards away in the McCormick Theological Seminary driveway. We reported the incident to the officer, and sometime later saw two campus squad cars patrolling inside the park. Too late for these victims.

I also realized that I had walked by the assailants' car parked further north in the same block about 20 minutes before the attack. Something made me suspicious and now I wish I had followed my intuition and called the police; perhaps this crime could have been prevented. I also can't help thinking that had it been a few minutes later, the victims could have been me with my children. I am beginning to think that the presence of the campus police lends a false sense of security to students and residents if crimes like this can occur within sight of the police.

I have lived in Hyde Park since 1983 by choice, not because of an affiliation with the university or other organization here. I still believe it is one of the best places to live in the city, albeit its limited commercial and dining options. Although I have been victimized by tow home invasions and a car theft over the years, I have always felt relatively safe here. However, that feeling of safety is beginning to erode.

We Hyde Parkers have to get more involved with this issue by demanding proactive, preventative policing by both city and campus law enforcement agencies. we mus do our part by attending CAPS meetings, voicing our intolerance of crime and reporting any suspicious activity immediately.

By our lack of community protest and outrage,...we are allowing our streets to be taken over by thugs who know they can commit crimes against individuals here and get away with it.


Failure of business staff, police to know the White Cane law for service dogs for persons with disabilities leads to incident, accelerated programs

In July 2006, a sight-impaired woman attempting to be served was asked to remove her seeing eye service dog from the 53rd Street Dunkin' Donuts. Police were called to "referee"--and backed the business, saying they have to right to remove anyone for whatever reasons the like. Aldermen and others called the matter to police attention. A video in preparation on the White Cane law was rushed into production and will be shown to all police officers. Chambers of Commerce are being asked to inform and educate their business communities. Ald. Hairston, HPKCC, the Chamber and DARE co-sponsor an informational forum September 6, 6 pm at the Neighborhood Club. More in Persons with Disabilities page.

The Thuggin' theme party at U of C dorm- meanings, opportunities

The thuggin'-ghetto-themed dorm party on campus, whether or not blown out of proportion, raises serious issues about what views many students bring into the neighborhood and their isolation, as well as persistent racism. The question spills over into other groups stereotyped and dissed on both campus and the neighborhood, racial profiling both ways, and police actions. See more in University and Community.

Question: Is a large part of the student body an imported and continually turning-over enclave that doesn't interact with the rest of Hyde Park and beyond--or even shop on 53rd? Is campus to some extent a :"ghetto"? Maybe "barrio" is better, since nothing is keeping students bottled up there and many travel widely through the city. Top

By Gary Ossewaarde, November 12, 2005:

An offending campus party provides opportunity to re-engage on race, respect

On October 14 2005 residents of May House, a part of the University of Chicago student housing system, held a party themed “Straight-Thuggin’ Ghetto.” The party was not sanctioned or funded by the University but somehow not flagged and stopped by adult resident masters—although the organizers received advice against the theme.

Since the party, an intense debate has raged on campus and in wide-ranging media over whether and in what ways the party was offensive and what it might say about attitudes and human relations at the university and larger community, and how to address them.

The matter also came up at the HPKCC November Board meeting—visited by press and 2 TV stations. The board noted that our Mission calls on us to work toward a diverse and caring community. Members generally thought the best approach is for all to use this bad-taste mistake as an opportunity for people to learn from and about each other, open conversation, and find sincerely better ways of treating, respecting and relating to each other. Members did think the administration was tardy in notifying community residents and organizations about the matter and did not understand the subtleties of modern youth culture, but otherwise acted appropriately.

A wide spectrum of people and media have noted that this (and some of the other theme parties at this and other dorms) certainly embodied bad taste but, according to all indications, was not intended to be an insult or mockery. It crossed a line, in this line of thinking, first in imputing without differentiation a certain lowest-denominator culture and behavior to blacks and certain neighborhoods; second in dress, acting-out and comments at the party; and third that this was (by assumption) privileged white kids thoughtlessly parodying what they thought of (at least poorer) blacks. Beyond this, it rubbed a raw nerve in this campus, Hyde Park and on the South Side, where racial concerns are embedded in history and in relations within and between neighborhoods and between these and the University.

The “lowest denominator” aspect seems to be confirmed by the title, “Straight thuggin’” that seems to have come from a rap song that either glorifies or satirizes drugs, prostitution, mugging, and murder. Many, including African Americans in the media, say this, and even the larger (not synonymous) phenomenon known as Hip-Hop, does not reflect typical attitudes or culture among African Americans and embarrasses most of them—but that many younger people—black and white—have absorbed these phenomena from pop radio/video media. These commentators generally added, including to African Americans on campus, “If you find that party offensive, be sure you aren’t doing the same” or imposing a double standard of political correctness.

Many commenting added that the real offense was that the party was staged by a group of (presumed) privileged white young people who in doing so, according to the University administration in its University-wide letter, “parodied racial stereotypes based on assumptions about economically disadvantaged members of society.”

Some responded that this is an overreaction that loads too much burden on a careless act. But Ken Warren, Assistant Provost for Minority Issues, said at the University-wide meeting November 8 that this “thoughtlessness” is precisely the problem—and the way many people on campus and in society approach both minority issues and persons who are different from them. He suggested that the University is eminently a place to start replacing thoughtlessness with information, insight and respect.

The University responds

The University investigated the matter over several days, issued a public letter condemning the themed party, and held a University-wide open meeting intended to start a conversation and new course on the human relations issues raised by the incident.

Close to 400 packed Hutchinson Commons on November 8. Four lead administrators presented facts, the trajectory of University response, the University position, and reactions to it—from “overreaction” to “not tough enough.” They then opened the floor to wide-ranging and increasingly heated (but civil) comments and questions—at times person to person debate, summarized main points and suggestions for next steps, and received two proposals for action from minority student groups. Small group discussions of next steps seemed likely.

University Provost Richard Saller noted that this is not just an internal University issue but directly involves relations with communities, with which the university must become more engaged collaboratively. He made it clear that the University is convinced the party was both offensive and symptomatic of a problem with the campus climate.

Ana Vazquez, Deputy Dean of Students and Director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs, confirmed the latter by reading results of a campus-wide survey of minority students taken a few months ago that showed a large number of experienced incidents and/or perceptions of discrimination, ostracism, stereotyping, and lack of sensitivity.

She said she was not surprised some such incident occurred; it was only a matter of time. She also said that the University’s commitment to improvement is real, foundations have been laid, and the University will follow through. Efforts to recruit more minorities in all sectors is stronger than ever. The university is establishing, especially for staff, diversity and sensitivity training. Architectural plans have been prepared for a diversity center.

Insights from the audience included the remark of some minority persons that they were tired of always having to be the one to justify themselves and their lives—“white people can choose to think about race or not; I’m given no choice but to deal with it all the time.” People from many distinct minorities described bad person experiences or disrespect for flyers and events they put on—the problem is not just for African Americans. Many explained what offended them about the party. When some still questioned why it was offensive, one fourth-year responded, “I’m tired of having to explain…to the majority…Ask your fellow white student as a student why they were offended.”



Loss of block grants threaten local programs; city restores Blue Gargoyle state funds for its employment training program

Officials including Mayor Daley have warned that key local people and workforce development programs such as the Jewish Vocational Center (JVS) will be adversely affected or even lost if President Bush succeeds in halving unrestricted Community Development Block Grants program (CDBG) and moving them to the Commerce Department--which the Mayor warns is not set up and oriented towards neighborhood and people development. Chicago's current funding is $95 million. The $60,000 JVS gets enable it to send staff to a city-placed job placement center to train disabled persons. Alan Goldstein of JVS says, "It's not welfare, it's working with people with special barriers to have a regular life and they deserve a better break." JVC and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club are two of 350 agencies in Chicago using CDBG funds. Services range from affordable housing to youth services and health clinics. Goldstein says, "When you think about the name that is what it's all about--developing the community and the people who are in it."

The Mayor's Office of Manpower Development did not renew its funding (pass-through of state funds) to the highly successful Blue Gargoyle employment preparation and training program, despite strong protests by Ald. Hairston and others. After a meeting with officials, the city restored the funds.


The 2004 city ordinance on aggressive panhandling provided the following:

Application: Complete ban on panhandling within 10 feet of a bus shelter or bus stop, a public transportation vehicle or facility, any vehicle parked on a public street or alley, a sidewalk cafe or restaurant, a gas station or within 10 feet in any direction of an ATM machine, bank or currency exchange.

Fine: 1st and 2nd within 12 month $50. 3rd within 12 months $100. No jail time.

Police say most violations are with aggression. This means touching, chasing, yelling.

Discerning letters and commentaries have appeared on the matter in the Herald in 2005. The writers tell why the temptation to give directly to the askers should usually not be given into.


Hmmm. The Chicago Sun-Times survey of restaurants and bars put Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap at the top of the smokiest list--like breathing a toxic volcano. But...says Jimmy's, they were here on a night when everything went wrong, and we have since installed a new exhaust fan (so neighbors can breath the smoke?). Jimmys' patrons say the place is well known as highly smoky. Jimmys' owners oppose the delayed city ban but admit it would make for a healthier experience. Top

A whole set of trees marked, apparently for removal, in the 51st lakefront area has prompted many protests and inquiries, without any clear information as to what department wants to remove the trees and why. The trees with the orange paint appear to be healthy and mature and not elms.
Few stepped forward in the summer of 2005 to save trees, particularly on the parkways of 53rd, 55th... Neither businesses, nor the Chamber, nor the TIF, park district or city. The exception wa Nichols Park, where several volunteers rounded up hoses and watered trees and the green bags.

Fran Vandervoort pointed to degradation, tie-up of precious parking spaces by those who store cars to remodel, sell in the public parking spaces on our streets. From one end to the other.We must keep calling 311 with the city reference number and the alderman's office.

Others note the bane of traffic bottlenecks made worse by the Dan Ryan detours, such as Cornell Drive to the Lake Shore Drive, South Shore Drive.


Shop owners on 57th Street, led by Brad Jonas of Powell's Bookstore, 57th and Harper, want to make 57th two-way from Stony Island to Lake Park. At least some residents oppose. A city study has been asked by Ald. Hairston. The decision to make 57th one-way eastbound has been one of the most contentious leftovers from Urban Renewal. Some say the Artists Colony on the stretch died (deliberately?) when the street was made one way, with at least active consent of the University.

Now the University is backing the shopkeepers (being owner of several of the shops) and has its own reasons to improve access into the heart of south Hyde Park and University campus for students, staff, and visitors--indeed opening a gateway--and maybe encouraging museum visitors to come in. Bus routes also have to be circuitous because of the configuration, which requires going south to 59th or north to 55th to use 57th from the east. Residents, however, like the damping down of through traffic and difficult access to "their" prime parking spaces. Some years ago, when the Vision for Hyde Park Retail District recommended considering opening the street, there was difference of opinion between South East Chicago Commission and the University, the later favoring opening. In addition, the Museum a few years ago seemed to be in favor of keeping it closed (it this author remembers correctly) due to high traffic exiting its new garage. Jackson Park Advisory Council, heavily involved in decisions about the garage and associated close and larger circulation issues, did not take a position as we 57th west of Stony was expected to stay as was. However, this is not just a dispute between neighbors and varying interests but has larger implications for circulation, quality of life including security (an original reason)--and opposers say the west end of the viaduct at Lake Park is blind; there are already many accidents. The City study will be watched with interest.

From the Herald article of July 19, 2006. By Erin Meyer.

Hyde Park residents and business owners want to open t 57th street viaduct to two-way traffic. In recent months an ad hoc group facilitated by the University of Chicago has been discussing the possibility of opening the portion of the street that flows between the Museum of Science and Industry and the neighborhood's 57th Street retail community.

The business community in particular stands to benefit from making Hyde Prk more accessible to Lake Park Avenue and Lake Shore Drive commuters, Said Bradley Jonas, owner of Powell's Bookstore, 1501 E. 57th St.

"I am not expecting some kind of miracle in terms of more business in my pocket," Jonas said. "The question we are trying to answer is how we can allow people better access to Hyde Park." Group members envision the 57th Street viaduct as a gateway to Hyde Park. It is currently a passage by which drivers can only exit the community.

"We have been amazed how few people we get from the Museum of Science and Industry," Jonas said. "We are a block and a half from one of the area's largest tourist attractions and see almost no spillover."

The group, composed of local leaders, business owners and residents, tackles "quality of life" issues in the area around 57th Street. "Unless you now Hyde Park, you cannot get in, said Duel Richardson, director of neighborhood relations for t he university. Richardson facilitates the group's monthly meetings at Noodles etc., 1333 E 57th St.

Whenever major changes affecting traffic flow in the 5th Ward are suggested, Ald. Leslie Hairston's office requests the Chicago Department of Transportation to conduct an impact study. The city looks at school routes, traffic patterns, pedestrian routes and parking on on and around 57th Street.

A representative of Hairston's office was present at the group's June meeting. "This is potentially a large project," said Sue Purrington. "People have indicated that they were entertaining the notion of making a change, but an impact statement always comes first."

A CDOT study may take several months to complete. Depending on its findings, Richardson said he would be in favor of "making the minimum amount of infrastructure changes to conduct a trial either to alleviate the residents' fears or confirm their fears."

Increased traffic and compounded parking problems are the most common concerns raised by those who oppose the change. Some residents foresee drivers using 57th Street to travel from Lake Shore Drive to the Dan Ryan Expressway and crowd neighborhood streets.

One writer reminds that is best to keep cats indoors, for health and survival of the cats and the birds.

"Some folks have been raising the issue of the 57th Street viaduct for many years as an impediment in and out of the community," Richardson said. Top

Sampler of issues raised in recent letters to the Herald re: quality of life

Sharonjoy A. Jackson deplores vast numbers shooting fireworks nd congregating/parking in parks on and around the 4th of July, with little police intervention. Is our security less important?

Al Klinger stressed the importance of having toilets--open! on the lakefront trail. Seattle has them, why not Chicago?

Proposal to upzone 1301-05 E. 50th has neighbors up in arms. Pulled from city hearing agenda; meeting scheduled December 2. (7 pm at St. Paul and Redeemer)

Herald, November 5, 2008. By a set of neighbors. Historic Kenwood should retain look

Two single-family residential lots were recently purchased at 1301 and 1305 E. 50th St. Neighbors have been notified by the purchaser's lawyer of a request for a zoning change from single family, low density (RS-1) to a much higher density (RS-3), two-flat permitted. This request for a zoning change would allow the lots to be almost completely built over with two residences and two-car garages, eliminating almost all green space on the narrow lot.

The lots affected are in the Kenwood Landmark District, where residents have taken pride in their restoration of homes, maintenance of appropriate population density and respect for the unique "suburb" within a city, from its trees and green space to its limestone sidewalks and outstanding architecture. It is no wonder that he Kenwood walking tours are among the most popular offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and that tour buses regularly cruise by. It is because the look and atmosphere of Kenwood retains much of what it has been over the last one hundred years.

There are many existing residences in varied price ranges and sizes currently available for purchase in the Kenwood Landmark District. There is no compelling reason to alter a beautiful neighborhood which we homeowners are committed to maintaining and in which we all take pride. It would be and unfortunate precedent to allow the indiscriminate insertion of the high density zoning designation on individual lots among homes hat are currently designated as low density, DRS-1. There is no reason to permit a zoning change which, if enacted, begins a slippery slope whereby no single family lot is safe from altering its status to multi-unit, high density.

We hope that all Kenwood District residents will be organized by Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) regarding this proposed zoning change and support our opposition to altering the character of our community.