Landmark clinic Oct. 25 at Whitney Young

The City of Chicago is holding another landmark workshop Saturday, Oct. 25, this time nearby at Whitney Young High School, 211 S. Laflin in the Jackson Boulevard landmark district. The sessions are informative and a good opportunity for face-time with the landmarks staff. RSVPs are required at 312-744-3200. —Marjorie Isaacson

What's your emergency plan? City aids EVA members Oct. 7

A tree felled by lightning blocks North Winchester, crushing cars on either side, following storms on Aug 5, 2008. (Photo by Stephen Rynkiewicz)

President’s Message by John Scheer 

Have you have heard the monthly siren test at 10:30 on the first Tuesday of every month? What do you do when you hear those sirens and it’s not a test?

Last month when the tornado came through our neighborhood was the first time I can remember ever hearing the warning sirens while living in Chicago. And it was a good reason the warning was sounded. Between the news flashes that interrupted TV programming to the sudden power outage, we gathered up the dogs and a flashlight and headed to the basement. Again, that was the first time I can remember heading to shelter while living in Chicago. We regularly see major weather damage around the Chicago suburbs, but I remember only small isolated issues from violent weather in the core of the city.

This time, the tornado warnings correctly predicted serious, widespread damage to our neighborhood. There were many tree limbs down, a large tree closed th 1000 block of North Winchester while taking out a couple of cars and fences. The heavy rains flooded the streets and gutters. Homes and businesses took on water, some flooded by backup from the overfilled sewers, others from groundwater rushing into the first floor. The wind took off roofs and found the smallest weaknesses (some horizontal) to allow the rain to find its way into many homes and businesses.

Most of the damage was limited to property damage and we are all thankful for that. But how many of you know the plan of action for different emergencies when those sirens sound the next time? Do you know what the approved evacuation route is if we were notified to leave the neighborhood? Are you prepared for simple medical care if you are unable to get out of your house? Do you know how to get emergency medical treatment if the paramedics, fire department and hospitals are overloaded or unavailable? Do you have a family plan to find each other if the emergency happens when you are not at home?

These are all topics for which Lionel Martin, project manager from the City of Chicago Department of Emergency Management, can help. Martin is scheduled to present at the Oct. 7 East Village general membership meeting. Please come to listen and learn about the plans that are in place that could save your life as well as your loved ones. The EVA October meeting is at 7 p.m. at 1059 N Wolcott.

Button up home for winter

By Marjorie Isaacson 

The imminent arrival of cold weather and increases in heating-fuel prices mean that making your home more energy-efficient is more important than ever. Surprisingly, much of the energy used to heat and cool houses is wasted. The average home can easily save 30% on their energy use.

In addition to saving money, using energy efficiently will make your home more comfortable and reduce your impact on the environment. And while some improvements like a new furnace require investments, you can make many improvements at no or little cost:

  • Find and seal holes. Each individual opening may seem tiny, but together they add up and result in significant exposure to the elements. Caulk leaky windows, add weatherstripping to doors, and insulate any openings, such as around air conditioner window units.

  • Don’t heat unused space. Close doors to rooms you’re not using.

  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees. Cover it with an insulating blanket.

  • Consider covering your windows with heavy drapery and plastic coverings.

  • Buy a programmable thermostat. Set it at 68 degrees for the day and 62 degrees at bedtime. In most homes, you can save about 2 percent of your heating bill for each degree that you lower the thermostat.

  • Replace your furnace or boiler with a high-efficiency model. If it's older than 20 years, chances are it is a good investment. It’s essential to use a reputable and qualified heating contractor; heating systems are often oversized. It’s a good idea to begin researching this topic before it’s an emergency and your heater breaks down.

  • Don't forget the rest of the heating system. You may need to improve your house’s insulation and air-tightness, repair or insulate ductwork, or tune up your system.

  • Do an energy audit. If you’re serious about reducing your energy use, the audit will help you systematically evaluate what needs to be done. There are “do it yourself” versions, or you can hire a professional energy auditor. See the Residential Energy Services Network website.

For more information: Energy Star, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Citizens Utility Board.

Cornice repair has money-saving angle

By Greg Nagel 

I consider myself moderate in balancing historic preservation with new development. There are times that I’m disappointed by the tearing down of great properties and other times I roll my eyes when people tell me that a particular building is a gem that needs to be saved.

With that being said, one neighborhood feature is truly spectacular &@151; the decorative ledges to flat roofs known as cornices. The owners of these buildings really should preserve them. Over and above the fact that many of them are irreplaceable, it makes good economic sense to do so.

On a regular 22-foot-wide building, a new but bland and boring replacement cornice will cost you somewhere in the vicinity of $6,000 to $15,000. To re-create something spectacular will be two to three times that amount. However, to sand rust, patch holes and paint an existing cornice will cost roughly $600 to $1,200 every 3 years.

Cornices by their nature are exposed to the elements and must be maintained. Once a hole exists, they begin to deteriorate pretty fast.

Several contractors will work on cornices even on 3 story buildings. They have done several projects here in East Village. I'll refer them with no financial interest other than the preserving of our great buildings stock.

EVA September 2008 minutes

General Meeting minutes for September 2, 2008 Membership Meeting
Submitted by Joe Hunnewinkel

Introduction and welcome to Guest Speaker Alderman Manny Flores.

1. Alderman Flores spoke about the new LaSalle School of Language Arts at Division and Wolcott, formerly Anderson Academy. The school will focus on Chinese and Spanish, and membership would be 50% local students. An event is in the works to welcome the school and establish a relationship with the community.

2. A new playlot is in the works for Commercial Park.

3. The Alderman stated that the West Town Library will hopefully be relocated to the Goldblatt's Building in the near future. He requested that members send letters to Commissioner Mary Dempsey stressing the need for a permanent solution.

4. The Alderman spoke successes of the Blue Cart Recycling program, and encouraged members to educate neighbors on the correct method of using them.

5. Alderman Flores talked about the successes of the Milwaukee Avenue Landmark District, and his hope to aggressively pursue expanding the district to include the area surrounding the Polish Triangle at Division/Ashland/Milwaukee. Little progress has been made with the status of the former Pizza Hut property at Division and Ashland.

6. Members presented questions to the Alderman concerning:

1. Development of Division Street as a pedestrian zone. (No more curb cuts,
Depending on the outcome of the proposal at the Pizza Hut location)

2. The possibility of establishing a Chicago Avenue Landmark District.
(Possible in the future, but Milwaukee Avenue is the focus for now)

3. Police presence in the East Village.
(Crime seems to be down, mainly theft and auto break-ins)

4. Landmarks enforcement. Who is responsible?
(Progress has been slow, the Alderman will push for formal guidelines.)

7. Meeting adjourned.

Board Meeting minutes for 9/8/2008
Submitted by Joe Hunnewinkel

Board Members: John Scheer, Joe Hunnewinkel, Rich Ansalmo,
Scott Rappe, Steven Rynkiewicz

Non- Board member: Margie Issaccson.

1. Meeting focused on landmark efforts:

1. Boundaries of proposed Polish Triangle district.

2. EVA should be involved in proposed Chicago Avenue landmarking, but Preservation Chicago should spearhead the effort.

2. Discussion of possible future social events.
It was decided that a movie night would be a good place to begin, and possible venues to approach to host.

3. Landmarks enforcement has been lax, board agreed that city should be held accountable.

4. Due to the November 4th election, Happy Village Tavern will not be available, and the November general meeting will be cancelled.

5. Meeting adjourned.

Alderman adds Polish Triangle to landmark mix

By Stephen Rynkiewicz 

With much of Milwaukee Avenue's Ashland-Damen stretch now a city landmark district, Ald. Manuel Flores (1st Ward) now suggests that nearby properties be considered for a Polish Triangle "historic district."

Flores told East Village Association members Sept. 2 that city designation of the Ashland-Milwaukee-Division intersection could include buildings to the north and east of the Milwaukee Avenue district created in April. The Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, and other structures would represent the "Polish downtown" of the late 19th century, he said.

This summer, Flores consented to demolition of a Commonwealth Edison substation nearby, at 1510 W. Division. In a Chicago Journal commentary, Flores wrote that polychlorinated-biphenyl contamination on the site made preservation impractical. The city's 1995 Chicago Historic Resources Survey rated the power station in the "orange" second tier of significant properties.

In April EVA proposed that Division Street be designated as a "pedestrian street" with limits on curb cuts, and Flores said he agrees with that proposal. Yet he said he is "holding off" taking action while considering development at the former Pizza Hut property at 1601 W. Division. He indicated curb cuts would be held as "leverage" but did not elaborate.

A Polish Triangle district would be a higher priority than a Chicago Avenue district discussed on this website, Flores stated. Division Street was "under more stress" from development, he explained. EVA has not taken a stand on either location.

Meanwhile, Flores advised residents to be patient with city enforcement of two existing landmark districts, the Ukrainian Village and East Village districts that bookend Damen Avenue near Augusta. Flores raised his voice, citing the district's long gestation: "Years went by! And finally we got it done."

Tax breaks for remodelers are benefits of the Ukrainian Village district, created in 2002 and extended twice since then, and the the East Village district approved in 2006. Once aldermen cite an area for historic or architectural significance, any construction or alteration beyond routine maintenance require city Landmarks Commission review.

EVA has met twice this year with Flores and 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack regarding builders in the district doing work beyond the scope of city permits. Flores said he wanted to know more about the administrative process that failed to fix the problem. "At the end of the day we will have some progress," Flores said. He agreed to help secure a date for a followup meeting with city planners.

More ground was covered in an hour of Flores' remarks and responses to member questions:

• Neighborhood leaders would be invited to meet the principal of LaSalle Language Arts Academy II, 1148 N Honore. Preschool through second-grade students in the Andersen Community Academy building will be given "immersion" instruction in both Spanish and Chinese. Flores said he insisted that half the students be from the immediate area, compared with 30 percent in typical "magnet" school programs.

• The Goldblatt's building at 1536 W. Chicago is "one step closer" to housing a new branch library, Flores said. "As of today formal announcements have been made," he said, but the city was attempting to relocate city offices to make room for the library. Negotiations over the AAA Distributing Co. building at 1830 W. Chicago broke down over price, he said.

• With the city facing a $400 million budget shortfall, Flores plans for a second year to hold informational meetings as the City Council works toward a resolution. City workers are taking unpaid time off and are under a hiring freeze, and when asked about layoffs Flores said "everything is on the table."

Police Commander Judith Martin has made great progress in the 13th District since her appointment in March, Flores said, noting that she was a Bucktown resident who regularly jogs in the neighborhood. But Flores advocated working through neighborhood organizations and phone trees to keep abreast of crime. "It's not rocket science but I got to tell you it's very important to know your neighbors," Flores said.