Friday, April 18, 2014

Red Line meeting next month and other thoughts on transit plans

In a recent article about a proposed rail bypass for Brown Line trains on the north side there was so information on a future meeting with regards to at least the proposed Red Line Extension.
The Red Line south extension open house will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 13 at Palmer Park Gymnasium, 201 E. 111th St., Chicago.

The second step is being taken in long-awaited plans to extend the south branch of the Red Line by 5 1/2 miles, from the current 95th Street terminal to 130th Street on the Far Southeast Side. Plans include building new stations near 103rd, 111th, 115th and 130th streets.

A lengthy environmental review process is required by the federal government for the CTA to secure funding for the $2.3 billion rail extension. CTA officials said they hope to satisfy the federal environmental impact statement process by the middle of 2016 and receive a record of decision from the Federal Transit Administration — leading to funding — by late 2016 or early 2017.
BTW, I almost wanted to opine on the Brown Line project. Building the bypass could require CTA to demolish buildings in the path of the bypass. If you ever took a ride to the north side when you get to Belmont on the Red Line you may have to wait for Brown Line trains to turn onto their right of way. Or a Red Line train may remain on their right of way and Brown Line trains are forced to wait until that train passes through.

In any event building a bypass is a significant change to that infrastructure on that part of town as much as building the Red Line extension would be on this part of town. So if it does get built, I would wonder if we'd have the same discussion north siders are having about the bypass. Would the people of Roseland be concerned about the potential impact to residents and businesses? Especially building the extension could result in the demolition of houses and commercial buildings? What do you think?

RELATED: Yesterday's story about CTA weighing two options for the Red Line extension.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sun-Times: CTA weighs two options for Red Line extension route

Proposed Red Line Extension
Hmmm, I thought that the CTA settled on routing the Red Line extension along the Union Pacific tracks not along Halsted Street. Anyway more talk about this long discussed, long planned extension from 95th Street terminal:
The CTA has narrowed to two the routes for a long-awaited Red Line extension from 95th to 130th Street — one down the middle of busy Halsted Street, the other mostly running along existing freight tracks.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), whose South Side ward would be most heavily affected by the extension, was briefed on the options Tuesday. The chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee emerged with a ringing endorsement of the alternative that steers clear of Halsted.

That option for the $2 billion, 5-mile-plus extension generally follows freight tracks operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. A large portion of the tracks run along Eggleston — four blocks west of the existing 95th Street station — and curve eastward as they move farther and farther south.

The CTA’s plan calls for four new stations: at 103rd, 111th, 115th and 130th, with a combined total of up to 2,000 “Park & Ride” spaces, the alderman said.
...
“Halsted Street is wide open. Putting elevated tracks down the middle of the street would disrupt the integrity and cosmetics of Halsted. It would hurt existing businesses. I don’t think anybody wants that,” Beale said.
Now I believed for a while that the chosen route was along the UP tracks. In fact that's the map I frequently shown here when discussing the extension. So in any event in the article there was talk about whether the L extension could be elevated over the UP tracks or whether that route could be widened. Also considerations for the freight UP trains could be carrying in addition to CTA needing right of way on that route.

Then another consideration talking about Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
The biggest question is whether the CTA can persuade the federal government to bankroll the $2 billion project.

Beale believes the chances are good and not just because of the clout Emanuel carries as a former North Side congressman who served as White House chief-of-staff under President Barack Obama.

“That’s a huge ask from the federal government. But, we’ve been talking about the Red Line extension since I was a kid. Since I’ve been chairman, I’ve made this a priority. So has the mayor. I have all the confidence in the world it’s going to happen,” Beale said.

“95th Street is not the end of the city. What about people who need access to jobs downtown and deserve the right get there in a timely manner? Now that we’ve completed the Red Line upgrade and the [$240 million] 95th Street Station reconstruction is about to start, we can walk right into the extension that will finally complete the Red Line from one end of the city to the other.”

If federal funding falls short, Beale said the Red Line extension could be a candidate for Emanuel’s much-ballyhooed Infrastructure Trust to persuade private investors to bankroll projects Chicago can’t afford to build on its own.

That option would likely require CTA riders to pay higher fees to guarantee private investors an attractive return on their money.

“If we have to, we can look at it, but only if it’s the only way,” Beale said.

“We don’t want to put an extra fee on top [of CTA fares]. If we can get the money from the federal government, we can keep the fees down. We’re gonna lean on the federal government for funding first. My emphasis is on the federal government — not the trust.”
The article is correct in noting that the mayor had campaigned on this project, the next question is will it be delivered.

Also you can read more about this proposed project over at the CTA website. Probably not a whole lot new there, but you can check their information on this project.

Via the not very often posted anymore CapFax morning shorts!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sun-Times: Why can't they just get along?

A few times I alluded to this on the blog. It has often been reported that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn aren't getting along very well. This is likely the start of how things started going downhill, apparently according to Fran Spielman they had a mutual friend in David Axelrod and used to play basketball on Saturdays.
How did two Democrats who need to work together to solve Chicago’s pressing problems become so distrustful of one another?

“One reason for the tension is that Quinn is in the weaker position … his job approval is lower than the mayor’s. He’s also in a difficult re-election fight while the mayor isn’t. And Quinn needs Rahm more than the other way around. So Quinn doesn’t appreciate the mayor forcing him to do unpopular things — like support property tax increases,” said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

No one in either camp will allow their name to be attached to a discussion of the tension for fear of making it worse. But both sides acknowledge that the enmity is real.

“There have been times that Rahm has gone into meetings with the governor and just laid into Quinn. That doesn’t serve as the basis for a good, warm relationship,” a source in the Quinn camp said.

“Rahm does a lot of things in closed court, pops it and wants people to roll over right away. That’s not the way it works. The governor feels the state does so much for the city in funding roads, bridges and schools, and that there’s very little gratitude by the mayor for that. Where there should be conversation, there is little. It’s, `We’re gonna do this’ and that’s it.”

A mayoral confidante acknowledged that Emanuel “doesn’t respect the governor’s political acumen and ability to get things done,” so he’s inclined to go around him.

Another would only say that Emanuel and Quinn are “very different people with different personalities.”
This is how Spielman's article started off:
One is a notoriously disciplined political hammer who doesn’t suffer fools and runs roughshod over those who stand in his way.

The other made his name as a somewhat disorganized political gadfly with a pushover reputation that belies his toughness.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn are personality opposites, even though they’re both Democrats.
Probably not the full explanation, but certainly one factor amongst many. I can only wonder if the Mayor of Illinois' largest city and the Governor of Illinois not getting along only hurts the city itself?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Launch of storytelling series at Kusanya Cafe

We were alert to this event at the Kusanya Cafe sometime last week. The event will commence on Thursday. More details below with a flyer as well!

The Frying Pan Stories: Pages Ripped From our Cookbooks Thursday, April 17, 2014
  • What: The Moth GrandSlam Champion Stephanie Douglass and a medley of other storytellers will be sharing tales about the food we eat- as well as how, where, and with whom we eat- sparking a conversation about all things food within communities of color.

    Kusanya Café, a vibrant, colorful new space that is Englewood’s first sit-down café will serve as the backdrop for the launch of this new contribution to Chicago’s rich storytelling (aka Live Lit) scene.

    This event is the first of a storytelling series by the IHC called Living in Color, which will cover topics of food, migration, radical love, and identity in intimate spaces throughout Chicago.

  • Storytellers: Lily Be is a moth GrandSLAM champion and hosts her own storytelling event, Stoop-Style Stories in Chicago’s Humboldt Park at Rosa’s Blues lounge every 4th Thursday of the month. has been sharing stories since 2009. She’s performed at almost every storytelling event in the city and have been featured on Chicago Public Media stations WBEZ and Vocalo.

    Paulette McDaniels is the author of A Deathly Silence, co-author of Achmed's Return: Legend of the Lost City, and has performed at storytelling events around the city, including This Much is True.

    Duo Yang is a science fiction writer, and has been working on the sci-fi audio drama Our Fair City, or hosting the monthly storytelling show "A Month Of."

    Sonya Marie Harper is a community organizer in Englewood

  • When:
    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    6:30-8:00pm

  • Where:
    Kusanya Café
    825 West 69th Street
    Chicago, IL 60621

  • Cost: Event is FREE to the public, though reservations are required. Reservations can be made by visiting www.prairie.org or emailing: events@prairie.org

  • Who: This event is the first of a storytelling series by the Illinois Humanities Council called Living in Color, which will cover topics of food, migration, radical love, and identity in intimate spaces throughout Chicago. It is produced with the support of the Chicago Community Trust.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chicago Public Schools Spring Break 4/14-18

Reminder: There is no school for all Chicago Public School students Monday 4/14-Friday 4/18. All Chicago Park District parks are open as well as there are other options 
http://chicagocityoflearning.org/spring-break-adventure

Although there are activities that young people can enjoy we will have those who will be in the neighborhood unsupervised. We will have to be on alert this week.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

DNA Info: Seaway Bank and Trust Co. in Chatham Is Not Being Sold, Officials Say

Photo via DNA Info

I'm really sorry I missed this article. In Febrary, Crain's Chicago Business published an article about losses at Seaway Bank & Trust Company as a result of their acquisitions of two banks. Then got translated into Seaway may be forced to sell at some point.

To be sure acquiring two banks taken over by the FDIC is change enough and then the death of longtime owner & chairman Jacoby Dickens may well inspire more changes at the black-owned financial insitution. All the same in this DNA Info article from last month an executive from the bank is seeking to reassure customers that the bank will not be sold and would remain Black-owned:
Officials with Seaway Bank, 645 E. 87th St., said customers should know that while it suffered financial losses of $4.4 million in 2013, there are no plans to close or sell the city's largest black-owned bank.

"Seaway is not for sale, nor has there been any discussion about selling the bank," said Walter Grady, president and CEO of Seaway. "I really hate that there is a perception that we are considering selling because of a bad year. Every business has a bad year eventually."
...
Seaway Bank's losses last year were due largely to its acquisition of a bank in west suburban Maywood and another bank in Milwaukee, Grady said.

In fact, Grady said not only is the bank not up for sale but it plans to expand by opening a new branch this year. He declined to give details about the new branch.

And Grady has one prediction about the bank's future.

"I am confident the bank will remain black-owned," he said. "We are committed to remaining black."
Also not to be a constant corrector, but there are two other Black-owned banks in the area. Unless anything has changed recently Highland Community Bank - located at 1701 W. 87th St - remains Black-owned even though over the years there have been attempts to purchase that bank at times by Seaway itself. Then also the former Community Bank of Lawndale then renamed Covenant Bank - located at 1111 S. Homan Ave - is now owned by New Orleans, Louisiana based Liberty Bank which is also Black-owned.

Friday, April 11, 2014

CBS 2: Park Manor Residents Tired Of Building Eyesore

[VIDEO] We've heard about this building since the winter. A dollar store and the building it inhabited on the corner of 75th/King Drive burned down in January. Now the residents near that corner wants to see that lot cleared of all debris from the fire.

The story you see above from CBS 2 discusses this eyesore even more with some updates on this property. One update you may have seen recently over at Concerned Citizens of Chatham:

If you want to see how long the complaints about the debris go back look no further than this DNA Info article from February.

Here's hoping that lot gets cleared and with a plan for a new building in the future.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Update on 75th King Drive

Location: 7501 South King Drive, Chicago, IL 60619, USA
Courtney Gosslin from Channel 2 was out today and did a report on the condition of 75th King. She stated the story will probably air at 5-6pm tomorrow.

Also, WBBM Radio will run a story today. Here is a link to the interview.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bzv0UCPlQ-ncMllSdlA0RjUtOFk5aXU1WVRNSGNHU0N2U1Zv/edit?usp=sharing


ABC 7: Chicago-owned residential lots sell for $1 in Englewood, Washington Park, Woodlawn

[VIDEO] We've been hearing about this program for quite a while, the city wants to sell vacant lots in distressed residential neighborhoods for $1. This program is only available in the Englewood, Washington Park, and Woodlawn neighborhoods. Further more this story from ABC 7 mainly explores the potential impact in Englewood:
Tina Harbin, a homeowner, has lived for a dozen years on a block with an empty lot.

"My dream is to have this space where residents can gather in a community garden, come home and walk their dogs,'' Harbin said.

For just $1, the city is expected to sell the lot to the Harvard-Yale Homeowners' Association.

"To be able to transform it into something that adds value, long term. It's not an eyesore when you ride or walk down the street. It's something that's beautiful and just sets a different tone for the neighborhood,'' Harbin said.

Who can buy them? A homeowners' association or residents who live on the same block as the vacant lot. The resident must demonstrate the financial ability to maintain the lot and can't sell the lot for five years.

"We're looking for some buy-in to the community. We want homeowners, people that have a stake in the community to come in and invest in the community. Buy a lot, make it useful so you're property values can be maintained and increased,'' said Alderman Roderick Sawyer.
What would you do with a $1 lot?  Hopefully you have a future plan for the lot even if just for the enjoyment of the community. That is whatever creative idea you may come up with.

If you want to know more about this program here's a website: http://largelots.org/.

Sweeparound.us app can help us avoid street cleaning tickets.

Chicago Public Radio recently mentioned this a web/mobile service that can help remind you of street cleanings.  Click this link then scroll down to find the story on SweepAround. (Sidenote: Dennis Haynes of Chesterfield Community Council was also featured in another segment of that day's Afternoon Shift).


SweepAround.us is a website that can provide dates as well as free text reminders to move your car.


As an example, check out
http://sweeparound.us/ward-6/area-6/

The next ones are April 15 and 16 for the shown area.


As a suggestion, no matter where you live, be a good neighbor and help add some spaces. Pull all the way up to/back to (but not crossing) signs such as handicapped parking.

When you ignore using these signs and leave several feet in front or behind you, you essentially destroy a parking space for your neighbor. That is especially difficult on families with young kids or elderly parents.


Check this link for the official City of Chicago street cleaning schedules and maps.

The 6th Ward's schedule is here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ventra balance tranfer events in our area

Location: Saint James African Methodist Episcopal Church, Chicago, IL 60620, USA
Still have some money on a stripe card or a Chicago card?

Our area will be home to two Ventra Balance Transfer Events.
  • St. James AME Church, 9256 S. LaFayette on Saturday, April 12, 10am-3pm
  • Avalon Library, 8148 S. Stony Island om Friday, June 20, 11am-2pm

You can see more details, as well as other dates and locations at this link -->  https://www.ventrachicago.com/eventscalendar/#

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

LSC election flyer and some thoughts on education...

Monday and Tuesday are days for LSC Elections. Monday was LSC election for elementary schools and Tuesday are such days for the high schools. 

It was my intention to post the above flyer over the weekend unfortunately it seems I kept running into a snag with regards to posting it online whether through Blogger or the FB page. Anyway if you're living at least in the Roseland Heights or West Chesterfield area you may have found this in your screendoors or mailboxes. Sharon Banks-Pincham represents the community on the LSCs for both Gillespie Elementary and Harlan Community Academy.

Hopefully you were able to be informed of the LSC elections on Monday and were able to vote. Hopefully you're able to vote on Tuesday for LSC members at your local high schools.

Speaking of education, on Monday Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax ranted about the state of education in Illinois. Many of us are concerned about the state of education in Chicago especially for the K-12 set. So he starts out with comparing charter schools with the neighborhood public schools and states:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dukes Lounge: Is it Going to Become the Next Laristo's

I believe that Bars, Lounges and nightclubs have their place in our community. But as former promoter,DJ and wine & spirit salesman the first thing I always learned was RESPONSIBILITY. You are responsible for the way you promote, controlling the room,safety of consumers and following the law. Several years ago, Laristo's on 75th street downgraded their crowd and bedlam broke out and a shooting took place and patrons were injured and nearby businesses were damaged.

Recently, Dukes Lounge (121 E 79th) has prescribed to the same recipe for disaster for Friday nights. Per the staff of Pepe's the owner did allow Dukes to use the lot with the exception of the immediate spaces around the perimeter of his restaurant but the patrons take up all his spots including the handicap spots. The restaurant is losing business as customers cannot find a place to park. The patrons of Dukes are taking over the Pepe's lot, the medical center lot across the street and parking on the residential streets of 79th Michigan and Indiana. There are allegations of public drinking, loitering and loud music as individuals are sitting in their cars in front of residents home. 

What is going on is the same things that have happened at the 50 yard line and Laristo's. With the weather getting better is this what we need on 79th Street?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

City Notes: Watch Chicago’s middle class vanish before your very eyes

Click pic for larger resolution
I'm sorry I missed this as this was shared on Friday via The Capitol Fax. The animated image you see above is a documentation of Chicago's shrinking middle-class since 1970. The middle-class areas are those you will see in grey. Bascially this map measures "each Census tract’s median family income as a percentage of the median family income for the Chicago metropolitan region as a whole".

It's interesting to read the comments on both sites although unfourtately CapFax has since closed their comments for the weekend. That doesn't mean we can't continue to discuss the many changes and the factors that cause the middle-class to leave the city.

BTW, last year I posted one factor why middle-class families move to the suburbs and then recently found another article which chronicled another city family who is leaving the city. These families blame CPS schools for their decision. Perhaps it's one reason amongst others and the City Notes post seeks to further explain the shrinkage.

Either way I'm sure there are plenty of ideas to discuss this issue.