Volunteers to draft 32nd Ward master plan

By Rich Anselmo

Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) has asked the East Village Association to participate in a "Master Plan/Developer Project." This is a good opportunity to establish a planning and growth path agenda.

The project is similar to Ald. Tom Tunney's 44th Ward's Community Directed Development Council. Community group representatives and business leaders met in 2003 to talk about their vision for Lakeview. Groups worked individually the next year on subjects such as residential development, affordable housing, transportation, parks and city services, and their reports in 2005 were the basis for a master plan for the ward. The council continues to advise the alderman on zoning and other issues.

The portion of East Village that is in the 32nd Ward is located at the southwest corner of the neighborhood — roughly Augusta, Honore, Chicago, Damen (the 11th precinct).

Interested parties should check the 44th Ward's Web page for more on the that ward's council and master plan, and contact me at ranselmo@jameson.com.

It takes an effort to raise a village

President's Message by Mary Szpur

I would like to reflect on East Village Association's accomplishments over the last year:

Thanks to the efforts of our webmaster Steve Rynkiewicz, EVA has joined the 21st century and has a website! What a great pleasure and immense help it has been to have a constantly updated online website: www.eastvillagechicago.org.

Thanks to Marjorie Isaacson for her assistance in helping with the initial setup of the EVA website and for helping set up the evachicago discussion group on Yahoo! Also thanks to her for her help with many EVA issues, this year and for the last 20 years.

Thanks to Scott Rappe for his careful analyses of complex architectural, zoning, planning and development issues that the Planning, Preservation, and Development committee he heads dealt with this past year. These included: proposed Walgreens development of the former Pizza Hut site at Division and Ashland (a very important issue EVA is still working on), proposed development at Chicago and Winchester, development of the Bear Stewart site at 1025 N. Damen Avenue, landscaping issues on Division Street, and various other developments. Without Scott's expertise, our committee would be bereft.

EVA's relationships with aldermen Manny Flores and Scott Waguespack have been strengthened and nurtured by Greg Nagel, in his excellent service as EVA's aldermanic liaison.

The August EVA barbecue was a huge success, resulting in increased membership, due to big efforts by Greg Nagel and other members of the board and membership. Thanks to all who participated.

The 1st Ward was chosen to help pilot the city's blue cart recycling program, and many volunteers in East Village helped to implement this important program, which is very successful.

Important community issues such as local postal service problems, the liquor moratorium, and mass transit were discussed at EVA monthly meetings.

We have had some interesting and important speakers at recent EVA monthly meetings: 13th District Police Commander Christine Kolman, Executive Director of Wicker Park & Bucktown Chamber of Commerce Paula Barrington, Executive Director of West Town Chamber of Commerce Kara Salgado, 1st Ward Alderman Manny Flores, 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack and 1st Ward Streets and Sanitation Superintendent Manny Gonzalez, plus U.S. Postal Service mangers, local business owners, Walgreens staff, and city recycling program staff.

EVA's membership committee made some important inroads in tracking membership and reaching out to potential new members.

Finally, many thanks to the EVA officers who served faithfully over the last year: Brian Thompson as vice president, Julie Rudloff as treasurer (Julie has served as an officer for the last few years and deserves a big thank you!!), and John Sekowski as secretary (John has also served as an officer before — thanks!).

Update: Grateful thank you to Brian Roman, EVA newsletter editor

March 4 EVA election candidate profiles

In the last year our East Village Association community group has really revitalized and made great progress! We have made a real impact on development in our area, reformed the Planning & Development Committee, grown our membership, created a website and discussion group, and had relevant speakers come to our meetings.

We need to keep this momentum going and build on this progress. So in our March 4 meeting we need to elect new officers. Each candidate has written a short biography. Please make sure to come to the meeting and vote.

Please remember that only active members can vote on March 4, so please pay your annual membership dues. You can do this online at our website by clicking on the “Join EVA” orange button in the bottom-left corner or by bringing a check to the next meeting.

EVA membership dues are $30 business, $20 family, $15 individual or $5 senior.

John Scheer, candidate for EVA president

My name is John Scheer and I moved to the East Village in 1995. That’s 13 years, which may qualify me as one of the old timers, but during that time I have engaged so many of my neighbors who have lived here much longer that I am perceived as a newcomer by those residents.

That first year of living in the East Village, I was introduced to EVA and became an active member because of the openness of the organization and the profound need for neighborhood collaboration.

I continue to be active in many of the neighborhood initiatives from social events, preservation, crime abatement, parking, sidewalks, recycle and aldermanic discussions as well as a strong interest in the library and parks. As I have observed the changes in the neighborhood, I have continued to see the value of the EVA organization to facilitate communication and a venue to allow the residents to manage the change within our neighborhood.

I have been an active board member for the past year and would appreciate your confidence in supporting me as the next President of EVA.

Greg Nagel, candidate for EVA vice president

My name is Greg Nagel and I’m running for EVA vice president. I’ve owned and lived in a 4 flat at 1040 N. Winchester for five years now.

I grew up in the suburbs but have lived in the City since my graduation from college. I worked as CPA with Deloitte & Touche, as a Management Accountant with Kraft Foodservice, and as Corporate Controller for Pasquinelli Portrait Homes. For the last three years I have worked for Cedar Realty as a developer and residential realtor focusing on multiunit residential investment properties.

Other than being in favor for being kind to babies, puppies, and the elderly, I’m for responsible and thoughtful development and growth. I would characterize my positions as moderate and look for pragmatic compromises on most issues.

I’ve served as a board member for the last year in the capacity as aldermanic liaison, where I enjoyed a productive and frank relationship with Alderman Flores. It's been a great experience and I’ve learned so much. We have some really talented neighbors that have given so much to our community for many many years that really deserve our thanks. I hope to learn from them and follow in their footsteps.

Brian J. Thompson, candidate for EVA treasurer

My name is Brian Thompson and I’m running for EVA Treasurer. I have lived at 1022 N. Wood St., #2 since January 2004. I am originally from Oak Park. I am 37 years old and I am employed as an attorney. I’ve served the EVA as vice president and chairman of the membership committee for the last year.

Candidate for EVA secretary

The EVA board did not slate a candidate for secretary, and expressed an interest in recruiting a candidate from outside the current leadership. The secretary takes the minutes of the monthly general meetings. If you are interested, please e-mail EVA President Mary Szpur.

Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins to visit March 4 EVA meeting

By John Scheer

Earlean CollinsCook County Commissioner Earlean Collins (1st District) has agreed to come to the March 4 East Village Association general meeting.

Collins will present some of the recent activities in the 1st District and countywide. Additional information will be available on Cook County initiatives, and she will inform the audience of activities where they can contribute their support.

Commissioners are trying to close a $239 million deficit in the county's $3.2 billion 2008 budget.

Information about the committees that Collins chairs and the map of the 1st District can be found on her Web page

Please submit your questions and topics of interest for Commissioner Collins to address.

Put your money where your house is

By Brian Thompson and John Scheer, EVA membership committee

It is time for EVA members to pay their 2008 dues. EVA members can pay dues online via PayPay or credit card. Simply go to the EVA website (www.eastvillagechicago.org) and click on "Join EVA/Pay EVA Dues" in the lower left corner, then follow the prompts. It is that easy!

Paying your dues is important because only members in good standing can vote in the March, 2008 elections. As a reminder, those new members who joined EVA at the August, 2007 BBQ are already paid up for 2008.

Library shelves plan, checks out Goldblatt's as West Town branch

By Aaron Bilton

For the past several months, the effort to bring a new library to the West Town neighborhood has been in a holding pattern. We have been waiting for the city to enter into an agreement to purchase the AAA Distributing Co. building, 1830 W. Chicago Ave.

Throughout we have been receiving updates, mostly stating that negotiations were continuing but they would still have to get the money to go forward. Late last fall, the City Council passed a property tax increase, part of which was to be for new libraries. We were informed that the West Town library was high on the list of proposed libraries. After the increase passed, the updates changed slightly but basically stayed along the lines of “negotiations are continuing.”

That was true until recently. Due to the inability to reach an acceptable purchase price, along with an opening at another location, the city has broken off negotiations with the owners of the AAA building.

The new plan is to locate the West Town branch inside the historic Goldblatt's Building, 1635 W. Chicago.

Currently, the proposed space within the Goldblatt’s building is occupied by another city agency, which intends on moving to another location. Once the space is vacated, the library should be clear to move in.

Like the AAA building, this location is central to the West Town neighborhood and has excellent access to public transportation. An existing parking lot will be used by the library. The space is about 5,000 square feet larger than the branch libraries now being built.

Finally, this will not require the city to acquire a new site and construct a new building.

Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey intends on presenting this plan to the Chicago Public Library Board at its March or April meeting.

East Village businesses blossom with liquor moratorium; EVA election March 4

President’s Message By Mary Szpur

The liquor moratorium currently in place in East Village was implemented approximately 15 years ago, and was an effort to promote business diversity and a pleasant neighborhood ambience. The catalyst for the moratorium was the fact that East Village was being bombarded by requests for liquor stores and bars.

EVA members surveyed the neighborhood and found that the neighborhood was already well served by approximately 75 licenses (package, incidental, tavern, and public places of amusement) at the time.

Community members thought that the restrictions of the moratorium would be a useful planning tool that would lend some diversity to local business development and would promote the establishment of florists, hair salons, bookstores, food stores, clothing stores, home stores and other services that we needed and wanted.

East Village has changed, and West Town Chamber of Commerce has written a letter of support for lifting the liquor moratorium in East Village. We need to discuss
this issue as a community, and EVA plans to offer a forum for doing so in the near future.

East Village Association officer elections will be held at the March membership meeting on Tuesday, March 4. We are fortunate to have an excellent slate of candidates for three of the four vacant offices as follows:

President - John Scheer: John has served on the EVA Board and on the Membership
Committee for the last year, and in recent years has worked on several important issues in East Village.

Vice President - Greg Nagel: Greg has served as the Aldermanic Liaison for EVA for the last year, working with aldermen of the 1st, 32nd, and 26th Wards to communicate needs of our community.

Treasurer - Brian Thompson: Brian has served as Vice President of EVA for the last year.

Secretary - This office is still open, and we are seeking candidates.

If you are interested in running for any of the above offices, please send an email to current EVA President Mary Szpur at: maryseva@gmail.com.

Only EVA members in good standing (i.e., dues paid for 2008) can vote in the March 4 election.

EVA leaders support East Village liquor moratorium

This letter is from the East Village Association (EVA) board and is being addressed to our two alderman, Manny Flores and Scott Waguespack, West Town Chamber of Commerce Chicago, the EVA membership, and EVA newsletter readers.

It is drafted with the purpose of conveying the reasoning behind our stance to support the existing moratorium by providing some history. Furthermore, it is meant to a response to the West Town Chamber of Commerce Chicago letter published in January of 2008.

Liquor Moratorium – what is it?

  • An ordinance voted on by City Council

  • A limitation on the issuance of new liquor licenses

  • Limitation is specific to liquor licenses for ‘consumption on premises’ and ‘package sales’

  • No impact on existing liquor licenses for continued operations

  • No limitation for ‘incidental’ licenses in support of restaurant sales

Why is there a liquor moratorium in and around the East Village neighborhood?

  • It provides the residents with a tool to manage the quality of life in their neighborhood

  • It is a device that assists with a vision and plan for maintaining residential property values

  • It serves as a construct that helps establish a buffer between residential and businesses in a dense, mixed use environment

  • It limits the volume of requests for new liquor licenses in the area with an existing high concentration of liquor licenses

Over eight years ago, EVA, together with the then neighboring community groups, Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association, Old Wicker Park Community and Eckhart Park Community Group. worked with the then sitting aldermen, Jesse Granato and Ted Matlak, to establish the current liquor moratorium covering the East Village neighborhood.

This moratorium has been viewed as fair in the treatment of all businesses within its definition.

In response to the WTCCC position for changes in the liquor moratorium, the EVA board is supporting the current aldermen, Manny Flores and Scott Waguespack, in their position to make no alterations to this liquor moratorium.

East Village Association Board of Directors
Mary Szpur President
Brian Thompson Vice President
Julie Rudloff Treasurer
John Sekowski Secretary
Rich Anselmo Board member
Greg Nagle Board member
Scott Rappe Board member
Stephen Rynkiewicz Board member
John Scheer Board member

Liquor moratorium exceptions: What is the law? What is alderman’s position?

Report and commentary By Greg Nagel

As described in detail in last month’s newsletter article written by John Scheer, over eight years ago a liquor moratorium was put in effect in East Village covering both tavern and packaged sales licenses.

The East Village enjoys several 2 block moratoriums that run from Chicago Avenue to Damen to the south side of Division to Ashland.

At our last membership meeting (January 2008) Eddie Ratwan, owner of Damen & Augusta Foods at 1001 North Damen, was a guest speaker and requested the membership for support and signatures for granting him a Packaged Sales liquor license.

However, the actual law does not provide a mechanism for allowing a single existing business that does not currently have a liquor license to gain one without the Aldermen removing the entire moratorium for the entire moratorium area. Therefore, a change for one business would be a neighborhood change that requires a lot more consideration.

And when an alderman is considering making this type of change it’s important that they to ask themselves the right question which is, “Am I in favor of lifting an existing moratorium to benefit a single business?” That is a different question than whether or not to put a new moratorium into place.

Perhaps the confusion regarding what the actual law is stems from the fact that there is a signature mechanism (#6 below) for businesses that currently have a liquor licenses to transfer their license within a moratorium area. The 6 exceptions that permit existing liquor licenses to be transferred in a moratorium are:

  1. Between spouses;

  2. Between parents and children;

  3. An heir of the prior license by estate succession or a will;

  4. Any shareholder who already held shares prior to the creation of the moratorium area;

  5. Any person acquiring less than 5% of the shares of a corporate licensee;

  6. Any other person who acquiring the licensed business by purchase if that person can obtain the consent of over 51% of the registered voters within 500 feet of the premises.

As I’m sure many of you recall from the meeting or perhaps read in the Jan. 10 front-page Chicago Journal article, “Mom and pop push for booze,” Mr. Ratwan stated that he was directed to speak to EVA by Alderman Flores. As the Aldermanic liaison for the EVA, I called Alderman Flores to get his official position on this.

The alderman indicated that his position is that he has repeatedly told Mr. Ratwan, “Flat out No” multiple times. And that his official policy is that he does not remove existing moratoriums. Further,
the alderman indicated that Mr. Ratwan had been lobbying him for a Packaged Sales license well before Dominicks on Chicago Avenue was announced.

Alderman Flores: Boundary tavern's tree pits to be fully restored

Aldermanic liaison report by Greg Nagel

Alderman Manny Flores says parkway green space at The Boundary lounge will be restored to its former size.

As Scott Rappe reported in previous newsletters, the new bar at 1937 W. Division St. removed two tree-pit fences this summer and paved over the planting area.

"The tree pits contribute to a unified streetscape giving Division Street a cohesive identity," Rappe wrote, "and were installed during Division Street's low point as a shopping district in the hope that it would one day be revitalized.”

The Boundary did this with full permission and proper permits.

“During the normal building permit process, the Department of Zoning reviews all projects," said Rappe, who chairs the East Village Association's Planning, Preservation & Development Committee. "It regulates the Landscape Ordinance and has jurisdiction over things like the installation of trees and tree grates in the parkway. Zoning is supposed to check whether there is a [Chicago Department of Transportation] moratorium in place before approving any work in the parkway; apparently this procedure was not followed in the case of Boundary.”

I met with Alderman Flores on Feb. 18 regarding EVA business. Flores indicated that he had been reluctant to force Boundary to put back the tree pits to their initial size, as the city had messed up and misdirected them. However, the alderman thinks he has come up with a way for them to do it with the city absorbing the cost.

I think this is good news for both the community and the business. Boundary will still lose table space, but not be hit with a bill. Flores did not specifically address restoration of the fences.

Mike’s Furniture traffic jam

Although Mike’s Furniture, at 1259 N. Ashland, sits just outside the East Village Association boundary, furniture deliveries in front of the store certainly have had an impact on many of our residents. I asked the alderman about this issue and relayed to him some frustration regarding the traffic jam that the double-parked trucks create, both weekdays and Saturdays.

Flores indicated the proprietor met with him several months ago and promised to receive deliveries during off-peak hours for traffic. As this clearly has not happened, I will follow up with the alderman regarding the potential of creating a loading zone. A potential downside to a loading zone is a loss of street parking.

If anyone has issues at all, please feel free to call my cell (312-933-1432) or email me at gnagel01@comcast.net. Stay warm!

City planners shift support to Division-Ashland plan

Planning, Preservation and Development Committee Report by Scott Rappe

Pizza Hut/Walgreens

We can add the Chicago Department of Planning & Development to the growing list of organizations and individuals that support our position that the former Pizza Hut site should become a dense, multi-use, transit-oriented development.

In a letter recently sent to Alderman Flores, the DPD states its official position that the proposed Walgreens does not meet the 2002 Near Northwest Side Community Plan and cannot be built as currently proposed.

This conclusion was arrived at after a detailed internal review and represents a welcome shift in position. In an earlier letter to EVA, the DPD lamented their “limited ability to influence the development plan” because of the “correct zoning for a retail project.”

This is a positive development, but the battle is long from over.

Although Walgreens will not be allowed to build what was presented at the November EVA meeting, that does not get us any closer to what we have been advocating. The city’s leverage will certainly help, but it will still come down to Walgreens doing what is right, rather than what is necessary to garner approval.

In mid-January, the EVA sent a letter to Walgreens asking it to find a developer with the necessary experience and interest to build what this important corner needs. The letter pointed out that RDM development's project behind MB Bank is doing many of the things that Interra-Vision and their attorney told the EVA were not possible.

On Jan. 27, Channel 20's Northwestern News devoted several minutes of its newscast to this issue. Although they declined to be interviewed on tape, Walgreens provided a statement of their commitment to serving the 'healthcare needs' of the community. Parsing its words, Walgreens shows that it clearly does not yet grasp the importance of the issues at hand.

To Walgreens this may seem like a local issue, but what happens on this corner has relevance on a citywide scale. In the context of a transit crisis, a bid for the Olympics and growing public demand for environmental responsibility, national chains will be forced to change how they meet the needs of the communities they serve. And it might as well start at Ashland and Division.

Boundary Tree Pits

During renovation of its new space on Division Street, Boundary removed two parkway tree pit fences and paved over the 75% of tree pit with concrete. After much public outcry, Boundary installed miniature fences around the newly condensed tree pits to replace those removed during construction. As the first new fence was being installed, the alderman’s office noted that no permit had been issued and asked that work stop immediately.

Since the Division Street streetscape is protected by a CDOT moratorium, the permit process would have insured that only properly sized fences of the original design would have been allowed. Boundary moved forward and installed the second fence anyway. On the same day, in an email to the EVA, the alderman’s office committed to "get the right-sized and designed tree pit fence re-installed."

In a subsequent meeting, representatives of the EVA asked Alderman Flores not to issue a sidewalk café permit to Boundary until the tree pits were restored. Last week an EVA delegation met with Alderman Flores to discuss sidewalk cafes and learned that the alderman signed off and Boundary has received their 2008 permit.

East Village Association General Membership Meeting Minutes

7 PM January 8 , 2008, Happy Village Tavern: Submitted by John Sekowski. Attendance: 25 (members and non-members)

  1. Guest Speaker was Mr. Manny Gonzales from the 1st Ward Street and Sanitation Department. He took questions from the floor, many of which were related to recycling. He also touched based the green alley program (permeable pavement). One member expressed disappointment in the enforcement of the recent handbill ordinance (eliminating/controlling flyers on the streets & sidewalks). He encouraged all to call whenever we have a complaint, question, or need a bulk-pick-up.

  2. The current owner of Damen and Augusta Foods, Eddie Ratwan, came to the meeting seeking support to obtain a license to sell packaged liquors to keep up with local competitors on Division and Dominick’s who do sell wine and beer. It was mentioned that a liquor moratorium (a cap) on new packaged liquor licenses is in effect in his two-block section as well as multiple other two-block sections in the neighborhood. It was generally understood that there are no exceptions unless the moratorium(s) is lifted (reversed). Confusion came when the store owner implied that he was seeking an exception and that the Alderman directed him to come to the EVA meeting to present his case. As suggested by member Marjie Isaacson, the issued was tabled until we have clarity from the Manny Flores (1st Ward Alderman) what his vision is for new packaged liquor licenses in the neighborhood.

  3. Secretary’s report, John Sekowski – no report

  4. Treasurer’s report, Julie Bragg – there is approximately $1174 in the account.

  5. Membership- Renewal for all members (unless you signed up new at the August Bar-B-Que) are due. Please renew before the election in March. The club’s website now has a “pay-pal” option in which you may pay by mastercard- visa over the internet,

  6. Member Guy Bragg, presented a draft for a business card for the Association. The intent is to have a blank line for
    the current officers to fill in and pass out for marketing, networking, etc.

East Village Association Board of Directors Meeting Minutes

6:30 PM January 15th, 2008, Happy Village Tavern: Submitted by John Sekowski. Attendance: Approximately 10 (board members and non-board members)

  1. The board generally agreed not to debate liquor moratorium issues at the general meeting, reason being that moratorium(
    s) is already in place. If an individual(s) are seeking to lift a moratorium, the alderman should inform us first before
    passing the issue to the community group.

  2. John Sekowski will send a thank you note to Manny Gonzales for being the guest speaker.

  3. Walgreens at the former Pizza Hut site at Ashland and Division – Due to the possible extension of the pedestrian oriented development, there is a possibility that Walgreens may “walk”. The Department of Planning also opposes a curb cut along Division.

  4. There was some discussion that the site of the existing Police Station could be converted to a park more easily than other sites (such as the AAA building adjacent to Commercial Park) because the city already owns that land.

  5. The liquor commissioner is a possible speaker for a future meeting.

  6. We have prospective canidates for three of the four officer positions next year. Mr. John Scheer (P), Mr. Greg Nagel
    (VP), and Mr. Brian Thompson (T).

We are in need of a person willing to take the officer position as Secretary. Primary duties include taking and submitting
General Meeting Minutes and Board Meeting Minutes, and other tasks as the year goes along. The Secretary is also a
board member.

Recycling at Feb. 12 EVA meeting

Recycling is the topic of the next East Village Association meeting. Representatives from the city departments of Environment and Streets and Sanitation will speak.

EVA meets on the 2nd Tuesday (Feb.12) this month due to Tuesday's Illinois primary election, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Happy Village Tavern, 1059 N. Wolcott.

Don't forget to vote.