No more 24/7 parking bans in 1st Ward?

All-day parking restrictions may be scaled back in a 1st Ward initiative.

"We're trying to help out local businesses," said Raymond Valadez, chief of staff to Ald. Manuel Flores. "If there's no arterial parking, where do people park to go shopping?"

A community meeting in late February will propose new hours for the parking bans, Valadez said.

The East Village Association board began discussing the prospect in January after at the request of Valadez. Board members had some concerns that lifting daytime restrictions would clog side streets with commuter parking.

Tax help at Clemente

Volunteers from the nonprofit Tax Counseling Project will give free tax preparation assistance to families earning less than $45,000 and individuals earning less than $20,000.

Help is available Saturdays mornings and Tuesday evenings at Roberto Clemente Community Academy, 1147 N. Western. Bring all 2008 W-2 and 1099 forms, Social Security cards for all household members, information on Economic Stimulus checks, a copy of the 2007 tax return and a photo ID.

Your EVA membership breaks the ice



President Message by John Scheer 

The new year 2009 is already starting to mature within the first month. And with the cold weather and snow, what better things can we do but get involved with our neighbors in support of our community?

In this first month, EVA has seen the membership exercise its voice on a couple of zoning topics, each of which will have an impact on the neighborhood. Renewing your membership, or signing up as a new member, is one of the best ways to get involved in your community and to make a difference. The more neighbors who get involved and participate in the decisions that form the future of our neighborhood, the better the planning and improvements for all of us.

Most recently, you may have been aware of the community support that EVA and its members contributed back to our neighbors. In December, the members donated warm clothing as part of our holiday celebration to direct some resources to our neighbors in need of some basic comforts. EVA also provided the cash donation to a local social service as a continuation of helping our community. By simply keeping your membership in EVA current, you can help ensure that EVA can continue to support these traditions and add value to others.

EVA has hosted a couple of social activities this past year. With the summer cookout, Sunday night movie and holiday dinner, EVA has contributed to the neighborhood experience where both members and nonmembers can interact and strengthen the bond of our community. Please join future activities and become part of the East Village experience by contributing you own personality.

Working with the City of Chicago and Cook County elected and appointed officials has also been a regular topic for the EVA general meetings. These officials bring current news and information to the EVA meetings and they need to get feedback including both concerns and concurrence from the audience. Your participation can make a difference in the city services received on your block as well as the larger neighborhood.

If you have taken the time to renew your EVA membership for 2009, I thank you. If you are still pending, please renew soon so that you can retain your voting privileges. And if you prefer to remain a nonmember, you are welcome and encouraged to still attend the EVA monthly meetings. Your support will be put to good use.

Vote with your feet: Are proxies fair?

By Marjorie Isaacson

There is no substitute for your participation. For that reason, I am proposing that EVA amend its bylaws to remove the paragraph in Article VI referring to proxy voting.

EVA made a controversial change in voting procedures in 1999, controversial because it was in opposition to long-established parliamentary procedures. (I can already see people reading this sentence, yawning or rolling their eyes, and moving on to the next article, but please bear with me).

The change was to amend the bylaws to allow voting in absentia – that is, being able to vote on an issue without being present at the meeting. I was opposed to the change at the time, and from observing the practice in the years that have followed, my opinion has not changed. For that reason, I am proposing that our bylaws be amended to remove the proxy voting and in so doing, again bring our organization’s procedures back in accord with the vast majority of large and small democratically run organizations.

The standard for holding public meetings is Robert’s Rules of Order, a book that was written by H.M. Robert in 1876. He was convinced that a rulebook was needed from his practical experience in holding meetings. The procedures are loosely based on those followed in the U.S. House of Representatives, but modified for ordinary societies. Most organizations, like EVA, stipulate that their meetings are governed by Robert’s Rules.

I’ve heard people complain that following Robert’s makes things too cumbersome or confusing. It’s distressing to hear this, because if this happens, it’s not Robert’s fault – it’s that the people who are in charge aren’t using the rules correctly. The purpose, and indeed beauty, of Robert’s is that it helps make sure that discussion and decisions are clear and fair.

Which brings us to proxy voting. Robert’s is quite adamant on this subject. I quote: “It is a fundamental principle of parliamentary law that the right to vote is limited to the members of an organization who are actually present at the time the vote is taken in a legal meeting”. Furthermore, “proxy voting is incompatible with the essential characteristics of a deliberative assembly in which membership is individual, personal and nontransferable.”

An essential point here is that an individual needs to be present for the discussion about an issue in order to make an informed decision on the vote. At our meetings, EVA goes to some trouble to provide a forum for stakeholders in issues to inform the public or make their case for an issue. We do everyone a disservice when we don’t demand that the people making decisions are present to hear them.

The bylaws amendment would be to remove the second paragraph of Article VI, the last sentence of Article X and the second sentence of Article XII.


On my reading of the bylaws, we cannot vote on it in February; amendments need to be introduced 29 days before they are voted on. Proposed amendments are either endorsed by the board or, if not endorsed, can be submitted with the petition of five members.

If you have any questions or comments on this, I’d be happy to speak with you: (773) 384-6088 or marjiei@yahoo.com.

Landmark shield urged for St. Boniface

Please call Ald. Walter Burnett today at 312-432-1995 and ask him to landmark St. Boniface.

The city is weighing whether it can acquire St. Boniface Church, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. told neighbors.

In a meeting Jan. 22 in the ward office at 1463 W. Chicago Ave., the 27th Ward alderman suggested that the Archdiocese of Chicago was open to trading the parcel at 921 N. Noble for another city property. The challenge would be to find money to maintain the property, Burnett said.

A report on the community website saintbonifaceinfo.com was verified by EVA members in attendance.

The East Village Association board on Jan. 15 asked Burnett to recognize the church's historical and architectural significance with landmark designation. The case for St. Boniface is made in earlier East Village Association posts.

Architect Scott Rappe, chair of EVA's Planning, Preservation & Development Committee, sent Ald. Burnett this statement:

A decade ago, the East Village Association was at the forefront of the effort to save the St. Boniface campus from impending demolition. The grassroots efforts of many community groups, neighbors, former parishioners and the preservation community were successful in gaining a stay of demolition to find alternative uses for the buildings.

Unfortunately the past 10 years have been wasted. Although the archdiocese went through the motions of sponsoring design competitions and issuing requests proposals, it has never been fully committed to saving the buildings. Instead of simply selling the property outright to any of the several parties that have shown interest, the archdiocese has pursued a policy of demolition by neglect.

In light of the growing urgency presented by the rapidly expiring 90 day demolition hold, the board of directors of the East Village Association passed the following motion at its Jan. 12, 2009 meeting:

The East Village Association supports the preservation, restoration and reuse of St. Boniface Church and rectory and the reconstruction if the dismantled school facade and requests that the City of Chicago recognize their historical and architectural significance with landmark designation.

Alderman Burnett, we respectfully urge you to protect this important architectural, historic and cultural community asset by calling for it to be landmarked immediately.


Neighbors have received letters from the Archdiocese of Chicago with a Jan. 23 start date for demolition. Midwest Wrecking will demolish the church, the Jan. 12 letter says, and the fire department may use it for training beforehand.

The city placed a 90-day hold on demolition on Dec. 5. EVA has not been able to verify if the demolition permit has been issued, Rappe said, but the city is allowed to do so.

East Village bids for tax benefits as national landmark

The city will recommend East Village for the National Register of Historic Places.

Federal landmark status does not put more restrictions on property owners, according to the city Zoning and Land Use Planning department. But it would extend federal tax incentives to renovation work in a wide area from Damen to Hermitage avenues, including the side streets between Division Street and Chicago Avenue.

A city landmark district was created in 2006. It recognizes specific addresses that qualify for tax breaks. Through the Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program, the assessed valuation of the historic property is frozen for eight years at its level the year rehabilitation began. The valuation then is brought back to market level over a period of four years.

Chicago nominates its landmark districts for the National Register to qualify property owners for a federal tax credit, Deputy Commissioner Brian Goeken said today in a letter to Aldermen Manuel Flores (1st Ward) and Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward).

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency certifies buildings for the federal tax credit. Owners of buildings that contribute to the district's character would be able to take take 20% of rehab costs directly off their federal income taxes.

Local incentives include a property tax assessment freeze for eight years. The benefits of both state and federal programs are summarized at illinoishistory.gov.

A Feb. 5 city hearing will consider how to frame the East Village bid. The Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council will review the East Village nomination March 13 in Springfield. For more on either meeting, call Terry Tatum at (312) 744-3200.

January 2009 minutes

General Meeting minutes for January 6th, 2009 Membership Meeting
Submitted by Joe Hunnewinkel

Attendance 21
Members: 19
Non-members: 2

Introduction and welcome to Guest Speaker Frank Perez, deputy commissioner for the Cook County Board of Review

1. Mr. Perez stated that recent lower sales prices should make it easier to appeal tax bills in 2009.

1. The city and county still need to raise the same amount of cash from tax bills. Commercial property owners likely will pick up the slack for falling home prices.

2. Dana Marberry of the Cook County Assessors office confirmed the prospect of lower tax assessments when Chicago properties are reevaluated this year.

3. Homeowners should pay attention to their assessed value. Careful review of tax bills for appropriate exemptions was recommended.

4. Board staffers helped members fill out tax appeals. Bringing your appeal directly to the board of review was highly recommended.

2. Representatives from St. Stanislaus Kostka parish presented a brief history of the parish and soup kitchen.

1. Church is open 24 hours. Soup kitchen is open for lunch 9am-1:30pm. Volunteers are free to drop in whenever available.

2. East Village Association presented a check for $300.00 to St. Stanislaus.

3. Jim Boatman, owner of 1744 W. Augusta, requested a zoning change from R4 to R5. to retain an existing, yet illegal basement unit.

1. Members discussed spot zoning as the larger issue, as this has been something EVA has tried to avoid in the past.

2. After several votes, motions were passed to not oppose a zoning change.

4. Developers of 1916 W. Chicago requested that the East Village Association support a zoning change to commercial zoning to allow a dry-cleaning plant on the premises.

1. After some debate, a motion was passed to oppose a zoning change for the site.

5. Meeting adjourned.

Board Meeting minutes for 1-12, 2009
Submitted by Joe Hunnewinkel

Attendance
Board Members: Greg Nagel, Joe Hunnewinkel, Rich Ansalmo, Scott Rappe, Steven Rynkiewicz

Non- Board member: Margie Issaccson.

1. Wrap of general meeting.
1. Discussion on voting protocol-A board vote should take place prior to general meeting.
2. Discussion on possible new venue for meetings.

2. 1659 W. Division, Zoning request for proposed boutique hotel.
1. Board voted to agree with Planning & Preservation recommendation.

3. St Boniface.
1. Due to the urgency of time restraints, a motion was passed to recommend landmark status of the Church and School Facade, and that the vote not be taken to general membership.


4. Meeting adjourned.

NYC's East Village inspires hotel rehab plan


A furnished-room apartment building and the Pump shoe-salon site would be converted to an upscale restaurant and boutique hotel under a plan to be outlined for East Village Association members for a Feb. 3 vote.

A proposal for 1659 W. Division from Third Coast Construction compares the project to the Ace Hotel in Portland, Ore., and Lafayette House in New York's East Village.

The EVA planning committee on Jan. 12 voted unanimously to not oppose the special-use zoning that the hotel would need to proceed. The restaurant also would require an incidental liquor license.

Ald. Manuel Flores (1st Ward) must approve the project. East Village residents can make their own recommendation at the Feb. 3 EVA meeting. Anyone age 16 or older who has been an EVA member for the past month may vote on the proposal. Members who do not attend but wish to vote must submit their votes in writing to a board member.

Dan Sheehy of Third Coast Construction will present the plans at the 7 p.m. at the Happy Village Tavern, 1059 N. Wolcott.

The developer would replace 41 single-room occupancy units with a storefront restaurant and 13 guest rooms on the two floors above. Valet parking would address traffic concerns; zoning would require only four parking spaces.

Third Coast plans to use salvaged and recycled materials to earn a green-building tax credit. The Product architecture firm drafted the hotel plan with the Creative Collective marketing firm. The proposal describes the hotel rehab as "a pairing of baroque and modern."

Sheehy said his restaurant partner is "well established" with "multiple venues in the Wicker Park-Bucktown area and in the West Loop," and promised to present information at the Feb. 3 meeting.

A concierge will be on site from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The proposal touts a "green hotel," stocked with locally supplied organic beauty products. "A local and sustainable designer will design the room furniture along with the bed frames, mattresses, and sofa beds," it says.

Polish Triangle study counts on East Village ideas

A great place needs at least 10 reasons to go there, according to the nonprofit Project for Public Spaces. Does that count at the Polish Triangle — the intersection of Ashland, Division and Milwaukee?

We're about to find out. The Metropolitan Planning Council, which five years ago studied East Village housing and development, will be keeping an eye on the Triangle for recommendations on improving the park and its surroundings.

The Wicker Park & Bucktown Special Service Area, which finances street improvements in the area, is helping to organize the process, and the steering committee includes the CTA and other agencies with Polish Triangle development stakes. The Chicago Plan Commission last month approved development plans further north along Milwaukee Avenue in the Logan Square neighborhood.

The Polish Triangle study will adopt the Project for Public Spaces' "Placemaking" method, which includes an evaluation workshop, a working group to sketch out a plan, a presentation of findings, short-term action and next-step plans.

"Placemaking is a process of designing places around the way people use them and involve the community from the start," said Karin Sommer, project manager for the Metropolitan Planning Council. The Placemaking project's Chicago website uses Wicker Park as an example of the "power of 10" things to do in a place, from playing games to giving children an excursion to tourism to people watching.

Next up in the Triangle project is a survey of "as many people as possible," Sommer said. She describes the project here.

Meanwhile, city departments will be comparing notes, said Raymond Valadez, chief of staff for Ald. Manuel Flores. At least at the start, Valadez sees the process limited to the triangle park and the adjoining 1st Ward streets and sidewalks. The plan should take three to six months, he said.

The planning council is sponsoring Placemaking studies in Chicago for the Polish Triangle and a still-undetermined spot in Pilsen on the Southwest Side. The Resurrection Project community development group is helping organize the Pilsen study.

The two areas were among those identified in October workshops that included community groups and public agencies. The Polish Triangle's location as a CTA Blue Line transit stop was one factor in the choice, Sommer said.

A Polish Triangle steering committee had its first meeting Jan. 13, led by Sommer and Jamie Simone of the Special Service Area. Scott Rappe, who chairs EVA's planning committee, was invited as a business and property owner.

Flores requested that EVA be included in the process as a stakeholder, Rappe said. Last year EVA proposed transit-oriented criteria to develop the former Pizza Hut property across from the Triangle at the southwest corner of Division and Ashland. Since April, EVA has sought a ban on curb cuts for the Division-Ashland streets.

Flores suggested the Polish Triangle study after the planning council briefed aldermen last year, Valadez said.

In September, shortly after signing off on demolition of a nearby Commonwealth Edison substation, Flores floated the idea of marking the Polish Triangle as a landmark district.

Aldermen Scott Waguespack and Walter Burnett Jr. are on the committee. Each alderman has a staff representative as well. The other members:


  • Paula Barrington, Wicker Park and Bucktown Chamber of Commerce

  • Mieko Joy Yoshida, Near North Montessori School operations director

  • Joe Iacobucci, Chicago Transit Authority

  • Dolan McMillan, Chicago Department of Transportation streetscape program

  • Luis Monterrubio and Gina Caruso, Chicago Department of Community Development

  • Payton Chung, Congress for the New Urbanism

  • Daniel Dean, Merrill Lynch

  • Peter Skosey, Joanna Trotter and Moira O'Donovan, Metropolitan Planning Council



One goal of the project will be to line up improvement funds and other long-term strategies. "FIrst let's find out what the people want," Valadez said.

Sommer contends that the Placemaking procedure doesn't have to have a lot of cash behind it to pay off. "You can start taking small, incremental steps that can add up," she said.

Peabody, Carpenter on school shutdown list

Peabody Elementary, 1444 W. Augusta, would be closed for low enrollment in the school restructuring plan announced today. Carpenter Elementary, 1250 W. Erie, would be phased out.

Enrollment at Peabody and four other schools are less than 40% of capacity, according to the Chicago Public Schools announcement.

Carpenter, which is 23% full, will not take new students and staff will be cut. Last year, Andersen Community Academy, 1148 N. Honore, was set for phaseout but with the multilingual LaSalle Language Academy curriculum replacing the Andersen program.

Public hearings and community meetings will begin Jan. 26, and the school board could act on the plan as early as Feb. 25.

What’s your vision for the Polish Triangle?

Polish TriangleBy Karin Sommer, Metropolitan Planning Council

The Special Service Area for the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods and the Metropolitan Planning Council are teaming up to transform the Polish Triangle at the intersection of Ashland, Milwaukee and Division Streets into a great public place. And we need your help!

Over the next year, a steering committee led by WPB and MPC and consisting of Aldermen Flores, Waguespack, and Burnett, as well as community organizations and city agencies, will collect ideas from neighborhood residents through surveys, outreach, and community meetings. We will keep you informed about these upcoming events through email blasts and the WPB website, wickerparkbucktown.org.

You can also become a part of the action by joining an online Placemaking network at theplacemakingmovement.ning.com. Check out the Polish Triangle group for project updates.

This collaboration is part of MPC’s Placemaking Chicago project. Placemaking is an approach to the creation and maintenance of public spaces that emphasizes parks in each community for residents to enjoy, neighborhoods that make people get out of their cars and explore, and safe, well-used public spaces that support economic development and foster residential pride.

The goal of Placemaking is to work with residents to develop a vision for their public spaces. For more information about Placemaking, please visit placemakingchicago.com.

Please share your vision for the Polish Triangle. Together, we can transform this space into a well-used public place that is truly an asset to the community.

Will taxes fall with home prices?


   Perez takes on tax appeals at the Happy Village pingpong table.

With Chicago property values slipping in advance of the March tax due date, will homeowners get a break?

"Unfortunately, your taxes will go up," said Frank Perez, deputy commissioner for the Cook County Board of Review. But Perez said recent lower sales prices should make it easier to appeal tax bills in 2009.

"We're in a unique year where the market has changed," Perez said. "We might be able to help you." Perez and other board staffers helped East Village Association members file tax appeals at Tuesday's monthly meeting at the Happy Village tavern.

Dana Marberry, community relations manager for the Cook County Assessor, confirmed the prospect of lower tax assessments when Chicago properties are reevaluated this year. "This is the first time we've seen a reduction of values," Marberry said.

However, the city and county still need to raise the same amount of cash from tax bills. Commercial property owners likely will pick up the slack for falling home prices, Marberry said.

Homeowners should pay attention to their assessed value, which Marberry said should be roughly 10% of the market price, and the exemptions extended to homeowners, longtime occupants, seniors, veterans and disabled persons.


Coreao shows storefronts in his drycleaning chain.

Among other issues on the packed EVA agenda:

• Members voted against a commercial zoning designation for 1916-24 W. Chicago to allow a drycleaning plant.

CD One Price Cleaners owner Mike Coreao claimed it kept solvents in closed tanks that did not require state exhaust monitoring. Coreao offered to draft covenants to limit the site's commercial use to drycleaning, but neighbors expressed concerns about emissions, traffic and cleanup requirements.

Attorney Thomas S. Moore claimed zoning law was meant to control cleaning plants 10 times as large, but "changing the zoning would be difficult." Scott Rappe, EVA zoning committee chair, said he appreciated that the building could be rehabbed to accommodate the storefront plant but could not make an informed judgment on the merits of its technology.

• In another vote, EVA did not oppose rehabber Jim Boatman in seeking four-flat zoning for a three-flat at 1744 W. Augusta with an unsanctioned fourth apartment. Boardman wants the change to help justify the cost of "green" renovations on the building's lower-level apartments, which would be more costly to rent when combined.

In siding with Boatman , members went against Rappe's recommendation. "The fact that there's a fourth, illegal unit is not uncommon but the approach is wrong," Rappe said. A green-building tradeoff would make more sense, he suggested, if it were built into citywide zoning instead.

• The St. Stanislaw Kostka soup kitchen received a $300 EVA donation. The recession is bringing families to the soup kitchen as well as homeless singles. Volunteers can visit the kitchen at 1351 W. Evergreen during its weekday hours, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.