Radio weighs in on recyclng story: More trash talk, 1 ton later

After weighing his garbage all last year, all 1,800 pounds of it, conscientious recycler Scott Rappe weighed the results in this space.

Rappe regretted that 10% of the trash went into the black city refuse bins, but author and talk-show host Mike Nowak read the article and was astounded by that low percentage. Nowak featured the Rappe family April 25 on his 8 a.m. Sunday radio program on Chicago's Progressive Talk (WCPT-820 AM, WCPQ-99.9 FM,

The show ranges from gardening to a host of environmental issues. Scott and Grace Rappe appear with children Matthew, 12, and Nicholas, 9, on the show's podcast from WCPT's South Side studio. Nowak calls them "environmental heroes" and a "poster family for Earth Day."

Meet Alderman Moreno on Monday

Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno introduces himself and fields questions from East Village homeowners on Monday, May 3, when East Village Association members meet at 7 p.m. in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott.

Mayor Daley named Moreno in March to replace Manuel Flores, now Illinois Commerce Commission chair. Moreno took office this month, retaining the ward staff led by Raymond Valadez at 2058 N. Western. On the website, Moreno pledged to be "a strong and independent advocate for the people of the 1st Ward ... and no one else."

A 14-year resident of the ward, Moreno has been affiliated with the United Neighborhood Organization, the Jose de Diego local school council and the Humboldt Park Social Services agency. He is a vice president at the printing company Buhl Press in west suburban Berkeley.

Alderman Moreno's East Village crash course

Members of the East Village Association board brought Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno homework with their first meeting April 21. The assignment for the new 1st Ward alderman: to read a 20-page brief the board prepared, with EVA positions on issues the alderman will face.

The briefing document is available for download as a PDF file.

Community groups in Chicago frequently review zoning variances and other issues in their neighborhood for which the alderman recommend City Council action. EVA asked to be included in not only variances but also requests for zoning changes, special uses and liquor licenses, and permit applications for demolition and sidewalk cafes.

By longstanding practice, EVA does not support projects it reviews, but can "oppose" or "not oppose" them. The brief outlines EVA's review process, adopted in 1998 and revised in 2007.

The principal writer was board member Scott Rappe. Current issues outlined in the brief:

Sign of respect: East Village neighbors unite in EVA

President's Message | By Greg Nagel 

The group East Village Neighbors has merged with the East Village Association. I'm very excited to have our tiny community under one organization that represents everyone.

I'm pleased that EVA will benefit from the energy and ideas of Aaron Bilton, founder of EVN, and Tom Tomek, its most recent president. I have appointed both to the East Village Association board. In addition, EVA is incorporating some of the ideas of EVN and taking the EVN lead in getting involved in school issues. In a sense, EVN lives on through the East Village Association and has helped make EVA even better.

No good can come from rehashing the 2008 split. But we do need to make sure we unite as a neighborhood and benefit from our diverse backgrounds and perspectives. And to make this new broader organization work, we will be making sure that everyone’s voice gets heard, but in a respectful, neighborly way.

Therefore, I'm sponsoring a bylaw amendment to be voted on at the June general meeting that will give the meeting moderator the power to remove someone who refuses to be respectful. I do not think it will be necessary to use this power often, and I would never abuse it. However, I do feel it's necessary to have this in our bylaws to guarantee our long-term solidarity.

This is a step I promised to the EVN leadership in negotiation for the merger, and I am asking for your support and confidence that this is necessary and prudent. I think most everyone will agree that being respectful is the right thing to do, and that if someone is just flying off the handle and does not respond to warnings, asking them to leave the meeting is appropriate.

A lot of our neighbors have lost interest in EVA over the years due to respect issues. I recently went into Cattails to get some flowers (trying to nullify one of my blunders) and began chatting with the owner. She said she stopped coming to the meetings because there was so much "hostility."

Later that week I went to Smoke Daddy to scarf down their half-price nachos and bumped into an EVA family that I had not seen at meetings in at least a year. They are a really cute couple with a gorgeous little girl and just the nicest people. So of course I asked why they have not been coming to the meetings. They actually said they were "chased" out of the group by a couple of the members that were just so aggressive and made them feel like they did not have a say in what goes on.

So I think we have an opportunity to make a bylaw amendment but more importantly a cultural change to strengthen our organization and unify for the long term.

The specific bylaw, which would be added to the General Meetings section, would read: “All members shall conduct themselves in a respectful, considerate manner in any and all meetings of EVA. Any action deemed to be contrary to this rule by the presiding officer at that meeting (President, Vice-President or Chairman) shall be grounds for immediate expulsion from the meeting.”

This respect issue is something I’m totally committed to, and I plan to make it a hallmark of my term as president of EVA.

So reach out to your neighbors and bring them back to the group. It’s a new day in East Village and we want the energy of everyone. We have made signs to advertise our general meeting that will be strategically placed throughout the neighborhood.

Further, as an organization we do not need to rehash landmarking, the issue that created so much friction. That ship sailed in 2006, when the city created the landmark district in East Village. The landmark ordinance is being challenged, but that process is out of EVA's reach.

Not everyone will always be happy with the results of our votes. Some folks are committed preservationists and environmentalists, and others are hardcore pro-development. Some people like bars and restaurants, others don’t like the impact these establishments have on their lifestyles.

My personal goal is that our organization balances all these issues. As president, my goal is that that we have an organization that represents the entire neighborhood and the majority viewpoint.

The result is that not all of us will be happy 100% of the time. That’s the hallmark of compromise. However, we agree far more than we disagree. We are going to disagree civilly and fairly. At end of the day, united we stand and divided we fall.

Our timing for reuniting is perfect given that we have a new alderman. It's an exciting time to live in East Village. Our neighborhood looks beautiful, it has never been as safe as in recent years, and we have some wonderful new businesses.

We have a great new school in La Salle, we have a library coming, we are united organizationally, and we have an "insider" as our new alderman who wants our advice and counsel on how to lead the neighborhood.

St. Boniface a step closer to being saved

A developer's rendering shows senior housing planned for the St. Boniface site. 

By Scott A. Rappe 

After 10 uncertain years under threat of demolition, pieces of a complex scheme to save St. Boniface Church began to fall into place this month at a Community Development Commission hearing.

A development company, International Project Management, has proposed plans to convert the abandoned structure at Noble and Chestnut into independent senior housing that would save the four iconic towers and south facade of the church.

Plans call for removal of the walls of the nave (main sanctuary space), reconstruction of the roof and demolition of the rectory. This is not the faithful restoration many had hoped for, but will maintain a semblance of the church’s dignified and prominent form, at least from the south across Eckhart Park.

The deal is also not as simple as it appears.

The straightforward reuse of the structure as senior housing requires legal and political contortions to maintain separation of church and state. The convoluted arrangement involves two city departments (Department of Planning & Development, Department of Community Development), three Chicago Public Schools (Byrd Elementary, Payton High School, Jones High School), two Archdiocese of Chicago churches (St. Boniface, St. Joseph) and a private developer (IPM).

The first vote at the April 13 CDC meeting authorized the Department of Community Development to acquire Byrd Elementary (located at Hill Street and Orleans) from the Chicago Public Schools. A second vote authorized the CDC to sublet the school to the Roman Catholic archdiocese for 99 years, if no other acceptable offer is received.

In exchange, the archdiocese will transfer ownership of the church structure and enter into a 99 year lease with the city for the land beneath St. Boniface. The archdiocese will renovate and build an addition to Byrd Elementary to expand its St. Joseph/Immaculate Conception campus across the street. Walter Payton High, which was built without a cafeteria and gymnasium, will continue to rent these facilities on the adjacent St. Joseph/Immaculate Conception campus.

The Department of Planning and Development will transfer St. Boniface to IPM for development into senior housing. To further compensate the Chicago Public Schools for Byrd School, the Department of Community Development will transfer money to CPS from the South Loop Tax Increment Financing District to expand Jones High, at State Street and Harrison.

The complexity of the arrangement and dedication of Ald. Walter Burnett, the archdiocese, the city and the community stand as proof that with time, effort and sincere commitment on all sides, there is always a way to save an important cultural and architectural treasure.

Earth Day neighborhood Clean and Green

By Aaron Bilton 

New 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno is co-sponsoring Saturday morning's Clean and Green beautification event at Commercial Park, 1845 W. Rice St., and a barbecue at the park afterward.

Come out from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 17, to make our neighborhood shine for summer. All volunteers are invited to the barbecue immediately following. Mayor Daley may be making a guest appearance, so please come out to meet your neighbors and show support for our neighborhood.

The event is sponsored by Ald. Moreno, Friends of the Parks & Commercial Park Advisory Council.

Healthy Lifestyles forum

The women of the Junior League of Chicago invite you to a West Town Community Networking Forum on Healthy Lifestyles
Friday, April 30
Erie Neighborhood House
1347 W. Erie
8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Join us for a facilitated discussion to explore the needs of Healthy Lifestyles in your area. The Junior League of Chicago is looking to expand our programming and is seeking feedback from West Town community advocates on what areas of concern are most pressing. Whether your focus is on healthy eating, exercise, access to preventative health care, or other topics related to healthy lifestyles, we invite you to be part of the discussion and to learn about current Junior League of Chicago programming opportunities available to your community.

8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Coffee and Networking
9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Program

Please RSVP by April 27 to Please feel free to pass this invitation along to other leaders in your community that are interested in attending this discussion.

Chopin Theatre to host water forum Monday

IL PIRG and Food & Water Watch 

Last year, the city sold Chicago’s parking meters. The result has been poor service, skyrocketing meter rates, and the loss of as much as $1 billion in taxpayer revenue. Now that the funds from that sale are dwindling, the city is thinking about selling more taxpayer assets, like Chicago’s water system. How would this affect you?

What can be done to ensure safe and affordable water? Join us for a free community forum and discussion about how to prevent another short-sighted sale that could hit you in the pocketbook and threaten your access to clean water.

Special guests include Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward), Jon Keesecker of Food & Water Watch and Phineas Baxandall of U.S. PIRG. Topics will include the impact privatization has on taxpayers and the public, the experience other cities have had and what can be done to prevent any bad privatization deals.

Monday, April 19, 7-9 pm
Chopin Theatre
1543 W. Division

Sponsored by IL PIRG and Food & Water Watch.
For more info, contact: or 312-427-2304 x 212.

A new leaf for Augusta Boulevard? Tree planting talk is in the air

John Poplawsky (left) discusses Augusta Boulevard landscaping
with urban-forestry consultant Mark Duntemann.

Minutes for April 5, 2010 membership meeting by Dana Palmer 

Meeting commenced at 7:02 p.m.

New President Greg Nagel started the meeting by announcing the merger of East Village Neighbors with the East Village Association. He also announced that the new 1st Ward alderman, Joe Moreno, will be speaking at EVA's May 3 membership meeting. It starts at 7 p.m. in the Happy Village, at Wolcott and Thomas.

The key speaker, arborist Mark Duntemann, spoke regarding urban forestry and the desire of East Village residents to have trees planted on Augusta Boulevard.

Three main goals of urban forestry, Duntemann said, are to increase canopy over time, sustain canopy over time and have health canopy. To accomplish those goals requires the right amount of space and soil volume for each tree. The current Chicago tree initiative plans to double the tree canopy in Chicago in the next 20 years, Chicago now has a 17% tree canopy.

Duntemann provided Chicago contacts to get Augusta Boulevard evaluated for tree planting. The city Forestry Department can be reached by calling 311. The organization Green Streets, thorugh the Chicago Department of Transportation, addresses project-oriented planting and has federal government funding.

Narrow sidewalks might deter planting along Augusta. Any sidewalk less than 9 feet usually cannot provide enough tree-well space, Duntemann said. He suggested accommodations such as ornamental trees with smaller tree wells, parkway bump-outs or reduced parking.

Jeanne Felknor spoke briefly about Clean and Green coming up for Earth Day on April 17. Volunteers will work from 9 a.m. to noon, meeting at Commercial Park, 1845 W. Rice St.

EVA board reviews 1st Ward priorities

Board meeting minutes for April 12, 2010 by Dana Palmer

Attendance: Greg Nagel, Nicole Semple, Neal McKnight, Dana Palmer, Scott Rappe, Stephen Rynkiewicz, Steve Crane, Tom Tomek, Aaron Bilton and Marjorie Isaacson.

Meeting commenced at 6:40 p.m.

  • Secretary Dana Palmer was asked by President Greg Nagel to update a contact list to include all new board members.

  • Treasurer Nicole Semple looked into a new post office box for EVA at 2002 W. Chicago. Cost would be $108 per year. Board agreed to change and Nicole volunteered to make arrangements including filing a forward address and e-mailing Stephen Rynkiewicz the new address to update the website. Nagel will notify the State of Illinois by filing nonprofit-status paperwork with the new address. Nagel also will arrange for letterhead to include the new address.

  • Steve Crane handed over Dominick's cards worth $150 to new Treasurer Nicole Semple for future use. He also agreed to update the membership list and e-mail it to the board so that the current EVA and East Village Neighbors membership lists can be combined.

  • Signs: Nagel brought a sample of the Corex signs that would notify the neighborhood of monthly EVA meetings and special events. The board agreed on the design and layout. However, one suggestion was to include the address of the Happy Village Tavern. Nagel will order 10 signs that will be assigned to members of the board to place in designated areas of the neighborhood prior to general meetings and special events hosted by EVA.

  • Clean and Green is approaching. Aaron Bilton agreed to write an article for this month's newsletter urging neighbors to take part in Commercial Park activities for the day.

  • Nagel was asked for EVA's support of a monument in honor of Chopin. The board agreed that prior to making a decision, Nagel will invite him to write an article for the newsletter about the monument or address a general meeting. Nagel also received a request from Rayes Boiler asking to come to a meeting and inform EVA of his product. Board voted against this presentation. The board agreed to not render an opinion regarding a 1st Ward development plan for 622 N. Ashland.

  • Nagel agreed that he would attempt to reach out to new restaurant Dee's Place to come to a general meeting.

  • Neil McKnight will follow up with arborist Mark Duntemann for contact information regarding the desire of EVA members for trees on Augusta Boulevard.

  • Continuity document for new Alderman Moreno: Scott Rappe constructed a draft letter for the new alderman to inform him of EVA and the issues we are concerned about. Among those issues, questions were raised about sidewalk cafe consultation, tree planting, the Wood Street police station and project review protocols. The board requested notification of businesses requesting a sidewalk cafe permit. The board agreed that EVA is in favor of more trees being planted in general. In the event that the police station closes, the board agreed that the location be used as a green space and would like to be involved and notified of any plans for that space. The board also agreed that the protocols listed in Rappe's letter are how we operate now and should be provided to the new alderman so that he is aware of how we come to certain decisions.

  • Nicole Semple agreed to combine all board bios into one letter to include with Scott's continuity document. If board members want pictures of themselves included they will e-mail Scott. Also, Aaron Bilton wrote a statement regarding schools in the area and the new library that will be included with the letter to the alderman.

  • Nagel agreed to set up a meeting with the alderman aiming for April 20 or 21 to present the document and introduce EVA and its key issues.

  • Tom Tomek and Aaron Bilton were appointed to the EVA board by Nagel. They are both previous members of East Village Neighbors which has now been folded into EVA. Nagel made a motion to submit all EVN funds to EVA to cover membership for all previous EVN members for 2010. Motion was seconded by McKnight.

  • Resolution of respect: Aaron Bilton agreed to write a letter regarding how EVA meetings will be conducted in a respectful manner.

  • Meeting preferences: During the meeting the board voted to leave board meeting on the 2nd Monday of the month but to move the location to Leona's. Tom Tomek agreed to speak with Leona's about holding the board meeting there. Currently, according the the bylaws, the general membership meetings must be held on the 1st Tuesday of the month. However, the board would like to have a vote at the May meeting to change the bylaws to be less specific, stating the general meeting must be held once a month.

  • Alderman Moreno is scheduled to speak at the May general membership meeting. Nagel agreed to draft an article for Our Urban Times and send to the board for review.

  • June speakers: Nagel agreed to reach out to the West Town Chamber and SSA as a possible speaker for June. Rappe agreed to reach out to Pritzker School for October meeting speaker and Aaron agreed to reach out to the La Salle school principal as a September speaker.

Greenhart to host CSA pickup

Harvest Moon Organics has added a third community-supported agriculture pickup location for the East Village/Wicker Park community.

In addition to the 1100 block of Wolcott, and Lush Wine & Spirits at 1412 W. Chicago Ave., Greenheart will now be an option. Greenheart will host an open house for the CSA from 1 til 4 p.m. on April 17.

More information about the CSA is available here. A link to a recent article about local food and CSAs is here

St. Boniface, Byrd School in land swap

By Scott A. Rappe 

Chicago's Community Development Commission will be reviewing the proposed Department of Community Development acquisition of Byrd School at 363 W. Hill St. and its sublease to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

This transaction is part of a swap for St. Boniface Church, at Noble and Chestnut. It will allow the city to purchase the church from the Roman Catholic archdiocese and then sell it for preservation as an independent living development.

The meeting is at 1 p.m. April 13 in the City Hall second floor Council Chambers at 121 N. LaSalle St. This meeting is only for the Byrd School part of the deal, but if it passes, the St. Boniface purchase and leaseback will be able to go to City Council for approval.

Please get the word out to supporters of the St. Boniface preservation to be able to speak in support at the CDC meeting.