Moreno fields questions on schools, police, remap and more in hourlong session

New ballfields at Clemente and Wells high schools will raise their profile as competitive to limited enrollment schools,1st Ward Ald. Proco Joe Moreno suggested in an hourlong question-and-answer session with EVA members Nov. 5. "I know you gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet," Moreno said, "but it took too long." He advocated legal marijuana, a casino and video gaming as ways to raise city revenues.

  • Ashland and Western avenues have been discussed as transit-oriented development zones. Moreno said he would bring any plan to EVA for comment.
  • School administrators and teachers support a language academy program at Wells High School, Moreno said, but funding is unresolved.
  • A day before the November vote but a few years ahead of a potential remap, ward gerrymandering was on the table. In 2011, EVA sought to keep East Village in a single ward. Moreno blamed remap issues on citywide population losses, and predicted that more changes would come with a growing Latino population. He suggested that EVA again work through the City Council's rules committee, currently chaired by 8th Ward Ald. Michelle Harris.
  • With a Feb. 26 mayoral primary approaching, Moreno had good words for Gery Chico, Susana Mendoza and Toni Preckwinkle and suggested that a Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives would strengthen the next mayor's hand.
  • Cmdr. Stephen Chung has performed well in his 12th District police post and would not be likely to bid for a transfer, Moreno said.
  • Bike lanes on Chicago Avenue are still in the planning stage. Moreno suggested that transportation planners will be receptive to community input.
  • Citing Chicago Tribune reporting on tax inequities, Moreno expects reform from incoming Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi. Moreno wants to support affordable housing, but not through a real estate transfer tax.

Voting bylaws under review

More than 50 people attended the Oct. 1 Happy Village vote.

A recurring issue surfaced again in the recent Happy Village debate: EVA membership votes require EVA membership. What's wrong with that?

In the case of Happy Village zoning, not all neighbors at the Oct. 1 vote were members. That shouldn't be an issue—membership is cheap—but for a twist in EVA bylaws: Voters must have three months' membership in the group.

This requirement was added in 2011 after a contentious zoning vote. The concern was that visitors with an interest in the outcome would join just to tip the balance.

In practice, the residency requirement has proven reasonable but the waiting period hard to administer. As a result, EVA officers on Oct. 8 recommended amending the voting section of EVA bylaws, which now reads this way:

Only members in good standing over 16 years of age who reside or own property in the area defined in Article II and who have been members for a minimum of three months are eligible to vote. An individual or a senior membership entitles the holder to one vote. In a family membership each family member of voting age is entitled to vote, however, the voting capacity of a family membership cannot exceed three votes. An institutional membership entitles a designated person to one vote. No person may cast more than one vote.

An amended bylaw would read as follows:

Only members in good standing over 16 years of age who reside or own property in the area defined in Article II are eligible to vote. An individual or a senior membership entitles the holder to one vote. In a family membership each family member of voting age is entitled to vote, however, the voting capacity of a family membership cannot exceed three votes. An institutional membership entitles a designated person to one vote. No person may cast more than one vote.

The change would be subject to a vote as early as Dec. 3.

Neighbors OK Happy Village dining plan

Dimitrios Christopoulos, Cherlyn Pilch and Andrew Miller address Happy Village neighbors.

By a show of hands, neighbors agreed with a prospective new owner's plans to add food service at the Happy Village tavern, with homes replacing the adjoining game room.

"There are still some questions," said Ald. Brian Hopkins, who must guide a liquor license transfer through the Liquor Control Commission and City Council. "If you live near Happy Village we absolutely want to hear from you."

The vote was opened to all 55 people attending the Oct. 1 East Village Association membership meeting, many of whom lived near the bar at 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

Hopkins said he would reimpose a license freeze and downzone the adjoining building, leaving the bar as the block's only commercial property.

Lawyer Dimitrius Christopoulos put a $3 million price on the project.

EVA Monday: Happy Village vote

Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

East Village Association members will take a vote Oct. 1 advising Ald. Brian Hopkins on plans for Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave. Members meet at 7pm down the block at the Bath House Cultural Center, 1019 N. Wolcott Ave.

The 2nd Ward alderman must decide whether to introduce a City Council ordinance permitting a liquor license transfer to prospective buyers Andrew Miller and Addison Thom. At EVA's Aug. 6 membership meeting, Miller and Thom described their plans to renovate the property, add restaurant service and sell the connected building at 1057 N. Wolcott Ave., now the bar's pingpong room.

A sunroom will enclose part of the patio, according to a revised plan of operation submitted to EVA this week. The draft agreement with the city Liquor Control Commission outlines restrictions that would be added to the liquor license. Several commitments are intended to reduce the impact on neighboring homes. They include bartender training, a 10-person indoor waiting area, video surveillance and a pledge not to hire a parking valet. The agreement could be revised with the alderman's input.

Beyond the license restrictions, the buyers propose to seek R-5 residential zoning for the adjoining parcel, which would indicate a 45-foot height limit on new construction. In previous meetings, neighbors have sought more restrictive zoning, a reimposition of the current license moratorium and renovations consistent with East Village Landmark District requirements.

Menu and other restaurant details were presented to the EVA board in July.

Community Justice Center tackles west side crime issues

From the Happy Village patio, Pauline Dengler describes the Cook County State's Attorney's west side initiatives.

Two prosecutors work out of the Community Justice Center at 715 W. Maxwell St. At the Sept. 10 EVA meeting, community liaison Pauline Dengler described their action on crimes in the 11th and 12th Chicago Police districts and on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. Dengler's classes and programs for community members include court advocacy, a self-defense course and "Keeping It Real" panel discussions with ex-offenders.

Delia Ramirez, an unopposed candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives, told members she would for advisory committees on public safety, housing, schools and other local issues. Ramirez noted that a large class of new state representatives could pull the legislature toward more progressive stands.

A membership vote on Happy Village rezoning is scheduled for the Oct. 1 at an unconfirmed location. President Michael VanDam summarized discussion during and after the Aug. 6 member meeting about the pending sale of the 1059 N. Wolcott Ave. site. A draft plan of operation will be posted beforehand.

Happy Village liquor moratorium vote postponed

Due to a number of open questions, the advisory vote on the liquor moratorium lift on Wolcott has been postponed, currently till Oct. 1. Watch this space for more information before the vote about Happy Village's Plan of Operation and other issues.

Here's a replay of the Aug. 6 meeting at the tavern, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave. Prospective buyers describe plans to add restaurant service. Dimitrios G. Christopoulos, attorney for the seller, is the main speaker.