The big topic Thursday night was the new ward map for the city and Ukrainian Village’s new location in the reconfigured 2nd ward. Paul Sajovec from Alderman Waguespack’s office was on hand at the meeting to talk about the remap process, and what happens next for our neighborhood. WBEZ put up a nice interactive map of the entire city – click here to see it. Click on any ward area on the map and the name of the Alderman along with population statistics will pop up. Here is a summary of the questions we posed to Paul and the answers we received.
- When does the new map go into effect? – The City Council has to vote on a date to ‘flip the switch’ so to speak, to put the new ward boundaries into effective in terms of services. Politically however, we would not have a new alderman until 2015 – the next election. All the aldermen have promised to serve both new and constituents during the switchover in terms of helping to find solutions to problems or concerns.
- What are the chances that the map could be radically redrawn again? – Not high. There may well be one or more lawsuits filed to challenge the map and the population deviations that now exist between some North Side and South Side wards, but any changes would most likely be to slightly redraw some of the ward boundaries as opposed to an overhaul of the entire map. This article from Friday’s Chicago Sun-Times nicely summarizes the logistics behind the current map as well as the legal challenges that could be made against it.
- What can citizens do to complain about or support the new ward map? – Keep apprised of any additional hearings that are announced to discuss the map. While it’s true that this new map was not one that any of us saw or commented on, the vocal opposition by the voters in the 43rd ward (Lincoln Park) to breaking up their neighborhood into 5 wards probably helped to keep their ward mostly intact in the new map.
While the new ward map was the hot topic at our meeting, we did discuss other topics as well:
- Stoplight at Chicago & Hoyne – Alderman Waguespack does not want to let the ward remap process slow any other initiatives down like this one, though the intersection will fall into the 2nd and 1st wards not the 32nd. The stoplight is on a list of to-do’s for CDOT but the 32nd ward has offered some of their menu funds to help pay for it and perhaps move it up on the list. The 1st ward has not committed any funds to this process. We will probably need to meet with the new alderman to check in on this issue.
- Recycling Blue Bins – Based on this interactive map provided by the city – it looks as though we’ve been left out in the cold again when it comes to recycling. The 32nd ward was not sure of the details at the time of the meeting, but at the time of writing up these notes, it looks as though Ukrainian Village will not be part of the Recycling trial that the city will be running.
- Pedestrian Zone Designation – On January 9th Alderman Moreno held a hearing about extending the pedestrian zone on Chicago Avenue from Wood west to Damen (link to Urban Times article). The UVNA has raised the question of extending the pedestrian zone on Chicago Avenue from Damen to Western as well. “A pedestrian zone encourages businesses that service local residents,… concerned with pedestrian safety and comfort, they are intended to promote a vital economic area.” (Steven Valenziano, Dir. of Ordinance Admin., Dept. of Housing and Economic Development). Other examples of nearby pedestrian zones are Division St. from Marshfield Ave. to Leavitt St., Milwaukee Ave. between Division St. and North Ave. and Milwaukee Ave. from North Ave. to Damen Ave. Chicago’s zoning code for Pedestrian Streets is 17-3-050 . We will need to follow up with the Alderman’s office to determine if it would be feasible, and next steps.
- Streetlights out blockwide – During December and January entire blocks our neighborhood have had their streetlights out for 7 days or more. Like other city departments, the Bureau of Electricity is short on resources and has a backlog of requests. If your entire block of lights are out, please call 311 AND notify the Alderman’s office as well in order to get the problem rectified quickly.
- Snow shoveling – Please let the Alderman’s office know — as well as call 311 – of any business that has not shoveled their sidewalks
- Snow plows – The city has a new ‘snow portal‘ . You can find the snow plow tracker, a link to the snow corps, as well as a couple of winter apps – one which will help you find you car if it’s been towed! The snow plow tracker may become even more useful as it appears that the city has changed the plow priorities due to budget cuts. Side streets may not get plowed for up to 24 hours after a snowfall, so keep that in mind.
- CHURCH WALK! – We are planning to host an architectural walking tour of 3-5 of our neighborhood churches this spring/summer -possibly in June and we are looking for a few volunteers. If you think your church would be interested, and/or if you would be interested in being a docent or helping to coordinate the event, please let us know. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Church Walk”.