Board minutes for 4/8/2008

Submitted by Joe Hunnewinkel 

Attendance: Board Members: John Scheer, Brian Thompson, Greg Nagel, Joe Hunnewinkel, Scott Rappe, Rich Ansalmo, Steve Rynkiewicz

Non- Board members: Aaron Bilton, Dave Stumm

1. Board members discussed rumors of new neighborhood organization being formed by former disgruntled EVA past and present members.

2. Aaron Bilton and David Stumm arrived mid-discussion and confirmed that a new organization was being formed, and stated that some former and present members of EVA felt that meetings were becoming far too hostile, and this presented a bad image of the community both to guest speakers and first time attendees to EVA meetings.

3. Board members discussed solutions to issues which would improve the situation with Mr. Bilton and Mr. Stumm, as well as how this new organization might handle such conflict in their own meetings.

4. Mr. Bilton and Mr. Stumm replied that if such discussions would not be tolerated, and members who refused to comply would be asked to leave and refunded their membership fees.

5. Mr. Bilton and Mr. Stumm left the meeting stating they feel their organization had a different agenda than EVA, and they would not consider remaining involved with EVA at this time.

6. Scott Rappe updated the board on the former Pizza Hut at Division and Ashland. No progress has been made since last discussing the matter with Alderman Flores.

8. Board members discussed the upcoming Clean & Green on May 17th.

9. Greg Nagel suggested that the Dinner Club be revisited as a way to increase member involvement. He volunteered to research possible venues.

10. Meeting adjourned.

Hot neighborhood stokes fiery debate

President's Message by John Scheer 

The East Village Association is into its 24th year. The neighborhood has new residents, new businesses and new issues but the organization continues. I can’t remember how many members have come and gone, but I know each of them is committed to a greater good.

WIth few changes, the same rules govern this different, more robust organization. The EVA bylaws spell out its mission: "to provide an opportunity for those who live in, work in, or identify with the social or business interests of the area, to work together for the common good of the community with a positive community spirit; to plan for the maintenance and improvement of both the physical and social environment of the community."

These phrases are cited for a very important reason. It is mandatory that EVA creates and maintains an environment where residents and members feel comfortable to come forward with their ideas and beliefs to share in the diversity of our neighborhood. Our residents need to have an environment that is safe and comfortable to allow them to express their views but also to obtain the necessary neighborhood support and feedback to work towards an improved environment.

As the April EVA general membership meeting was being held, another group of concerned residents held an invitation-only meeting to gather the sense of need for a distinctive group. Then at the April EVA board meeting, Dave Stumm (CAPS facilitator, beat 1322) and Aaron Bilton (prior EVA president), shared with the EVA board that they were working to establish an alternative neighborhood forum where their members could focus on issues of interest in a non-threatening environment. Their biggest issue with EVA was the anger and personal attacks that they believe have been common.

For any community organization, members must have both the comfort and the forum to bring their concerns forward. Many issues by their nature lend themselves to passionate views and personal urgency. The value of including a diverse membership also brings a spectrum of perspectives that can be very difficult for others to accept.

By definition, debate is necessary to reach a consensus. This can raise the emotional level of a community meeting. The best approach is to let opinions be expressed and make sure the focus is on the issues and not any one person.

Please join me in paying attention to the message and format of each EVA discussion. Make your own commitment to be engaged, respect EVA attendees and remain open to their perspectives.

Our neighborhood always will have new issues to address. We can best resolve them by conducting ourselves in a manner consistent with the values in the EVA bylaws.

EVA supports Division-Ashland sidewalk safeguards

The East Village Association asked Ald. Manny Flores on April 7 to extend "pedestrian street" protections to the block of Division Street between Ashland and Marshfield.

"Protecting this final block on the approach to the Polish Triangle is critical," planning chair Scott Rappe wrote in an April 7 letter to the 1st Ward alderman, who last year agreed to ask the city Department of Planning & Development to make the change.

The pedestrian designation already prohibits curb cuts from private property onto Division Street from Leavitt to Marshfield, maintaining space for storefronts with lively display windows. Rappe said moving earlier would have improved development plans for the former bank parking lot on the northwest corner of Division and Ashland.

The move is "the right thing to do regardless of who or what eventually occupies the Pizza Hut property," Rappe wrote, warning that a "wait and see" approach would unfairly target current plans for a Walgreens to replace the Pizza Hut or future development at the adjacent Wendy's drive-through site.

Police shine a light on taggers: April 2008 EVA minutes

EVA membership meeting minutes 

Wicker Park gardener Richard Tilley was the guest speaker at the April 1 East Village Association membership meeting April 1. But the agenda at the Happy Village Tavern, 1059 N. Wolcott, included police and business reports.

The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy will hold an appreciation day from 3 to 7 p.m. April 29 at the 13th District police station, 937 N. Wood St. Sgt. Juan Clas of the Wood Street district gave an update of community policing news, including the appointment of the district's new commander, Judith Martin, a 25-year Chicago Police veteran, and details of the city's court advocacy training on April 19 at police headquarters.

Klaus suggested that residents be vigilant for graffiti or burned-out alley lights. To request repairs, dial 311 to request city action and a tracking number to use when making follow-up calls. He warned of a string of auto thefts, from pricey global positioning devices to clothing or cartons of bottled water. The sergeant suggested homeowners keep an inventory of valuables in a safe-deposit box and consider anti-theft devices such as alarms, gangway motion detectors and door restraints.

John Hopkins reported on a meeting called by Ald. Scott Waguespack to develop a master plan for 32nd Ward development, which 28 community representatives attended. EVA planning committee chair Scott Rappe updated members on development plans for the former Pizza Hut property at Division and Ashland.

John Scheer, EVA president, gave details on 2008 street fairs organized by the West Town Chamber of Commerce:

  • Do-Division street fest and sidewalk sale, May 31-June 1 on Division Street from Leavitt to Ashlan.

  • WIcker Park Fest, July 26-27, Damen Avenue from North to Schiller.

  • Renegade Craft Fair, Sept. 13-14, Division from Damen to Wood.

  • West Fest, Aug. 9-10 on Chicago Avenue from Damen to Wood.

Alderman Waguespack to speak at May 6 EVA meeting

Chicago Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) will be the guest speaker at the next East Village Association membership meeting.

He will speak and answer questions from 7 to 8 p.m. May 6 at the Happy Village Tavern, 1058 N. Wolcott.

Waguespack has completed his first year as alderman, succeeding Ted Matlak. "As I expected," Waguespack writes in his ward newsletter, "my first challenge has been learning the City Council process. The learning curve is steep."

The alderman sits on five City Council committees: Committees, Rules, and Ethics; Education and Child Development; Housing and Real Estate; Human Relations; and Special Events and Cultural Affairs.

Waguespack has started an advisory board on zoning and a group to prepare a master plan for development in the ward. He has issued development guidelines addressing traffic congestion, green space and transportation, and has sought to reverse upzoning of some residential properties.

The Bucktown resident and St. Hedwig's Church member is Berwyn's former city administrator. After his graduation from Chicago-Kent College of Law, he helped create the Global Chicago initiative of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and worked on development projects in Kosovo.

Suggest questions for Ald. Waguespack by posting comments to this article, and join EVA on May 6 to hear his response.

East Village Landmark District: March approval conditions

The following work within the East Village Landmark District has been approved by the Landmarks Division:

1108 N. Wolcott
3/18/2008 Exterior only: Remove and replace existing rear open wood porch and
stairs same size and location as per Landmarks stamped plans dated March 18, 2008. No window replacement or other work allowed with this permit.

1139 N. Winchester
3/18/2008 Exterior only: Replace 5 front windows (west) with aluminum clad wood windows, new front door with sidelight and transom, install wood trim around the door, new brick molding around windows, minor repairs to front stairs and new lighting fixtures on front facade per Landmarks reviewed exhibits dated 3/18/08.

Flores, Waguespack unite on landmark improvements

Aldermen Manny Flores (1st) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) pledged joint support of the East Village and Ukrainian Village landmark districts. The two said they will work together to open up the city Department of Planning and Development's new construction review process.

Flores and Waguespack said they would meet with city planners later this month after representatives of the East Village Association and the Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association outlined issues and offered suggestions on keeping remodeling work on track. The aldermen agreed to work with city agencies to improve the review process.

Permits are not required for minor repairs in the two landmark districts, but the city must sign off on roof, window and exterior wall repairs that alter what's seen at street level. However, details of those city approvals can be hard to find, and city building inspectors recently have stopped work at sites that have strayed from the approved details.

East Village Landmark DistrictEast Village Landmark District

Details of any sort can be scarce. The two districts cover scattered areas of East Village and Ukrainian Village, and no signs mark which addresses are included. The newer East Village district, which the city approved more than two years ago, is not even mentioned on the city's landmarks website. To find this map and a list of the properties involved requires a search of city records.

Aldermen agreed with residents that some community outreach was in order. Flores and Waguespack said a tight budget might rule out signs for the districts, but they said they would post maps of the district on ward websites and encourage the city to prepare an "owners manual" for property owners. The city does post a list of owners' frequently asked questions, and a 56-page document spelling out its landmark regulations.

Contractors in the landmark districts are required to stick to plans approved by the Building Department. They can be ordered to take down work that doesn't match the plans, and can be fined for every day the unauthorized work stays in place. Yet permits barely describe the project's scope, much less the city's restrictions.

UVNA's Jonathan Fine, also the president of the citywide group Preservation Chicago, proposed prominent on-site signs for landmark projects, and argued that the city planners were responsive to requests but lacked the staffing resources of other major cities.

The city's Landmark Division says it approves 1,800 permit requests annually, most within a day. But Scott Rappe, chairman of EVA's planning committee, said the landmark ordinance requires community review for major work. Neither EVA nor UVNA have been asked to weigh in on major work beforehand, Rappe said, and do not learn about approved permits till work is well under way. Flores and Waguespack said they would take steps to make the process more transparent.

Visiting the aldermen April 3 at City Hall were Rappe; Rich Anselmo and Stephen Rynkiewicz of EVA's Planning, Preservation and Development committee; EVA president John Scheer and UVNA's Fine.

A garden pro's top 10 tips

Weekend gardeners might find it encouraging that success eludes even experts like Richard Tilley.

"You get failures, and you don't know why you get failures," says the Wicker Park garden veteran. Spry at age 81, Tilley this month gave East Village Association members his best practices for growing from seed.

He brought results of those efforts as door prizes in his question-and-answer session at Happy Village tavern, 1059 N. Wolcott. Tilley's begonias and geraniums also are likely to propagate the Wicker Park Garden Club fund-raising plant sale on May 3 and 4 in the park, at 1425 N. Damen.

Here are Tilley's top garden tips:

  1. Start as early as New Year's Day. Seed-packet instructions will suggest the ideal dates.

  2. The porous plastic containers that hold grocery-store mushrooms are Tilley's favorite for growing from seed. Use a seed-starter potting soil.

  3. Water seeds indirectly by standing containers in a baking dish filled with water.

  4. Cover seeds with a layer of dirt no deeper than the seed itself. Sift a fine layer of dirt over small seeds with a salt shaker.

  5. Keep notes on what you planted, where and when — if not to show what works, at least to tell plants apart. Snapdragons and coleus are shade favorites. Petunias, violets, pansies do well in container gardens.

  6. Ordinary shop lights, suspended 2 or 3 inches from seed containers, are adequate for growing indoors. A combination of warm and cool-white fluorescent bulbs are a step up.

  7. Handle by the roots when transplanting. Seeds don't need to be fertilized. Once they're transplanted, Tilley uses plant foods like Miracle-Gro, or Bloom Burst for prodigious feeders.

  8. For edging, commercial suppliers such as Ball or Harris can provide large quantities of ageratum or other bedding plans.

  9. Mothballs can keep squirrels away from tomatoes. Pests frustrated Tilley's efforts to grow zucchini, but asparagus and eggplant have done well.

  10. Sage and thyme are robust perennial spices. To restrain aggressive spreaders like mint, plant in a bucket with a hole cut in the bottom.