Aaron Bilton, Thomas Tomek join EVA board

Two new directors joined the East Village Association board in March. President Greg Nagel named East Village Neighbors president Thomas Tomek and former EVA president Aaron Bilton, an EVN co-founder.

Bilton and Tomek replace Steven Crane and Rich Anselmo, who served with past president John Scheer.

Continuing on the board are Scott Rappe, who now co-chairs the Planning, Preservation and Development committee with vice president Neil McKnight, and newsletter editor and webmaster Stephen Rynkiewicz.


Scott A. Rappe - Planning, Preservation & Development Committee Co-Chair/Board Member

I came to East Village in 1988, and after spending a year restoring a building on Division Street for my father's office, I bought a burned out four-flat around the corner, on Wolcott. I deconverted the building from four to three units and, after marrying my wife Grace and having children, expanded our living space into a second apartment. I have a small architectural firm on Division Street that focuses on serving the design needs of families, small businesses and the communities they inhabit.

My sons, Matthew & Nicholas are growing up in a house two blocks south of where their grandfather was born, and two blocks west of where their great-grandfather was born. They attend Pritzker School where they are getting a top-notch education with a wonderfully diverse group of really smart kids in the care of some of Chicago’s best teachers. They are happy, healthy, city kids reaping the benefits of all that a close-in urban neighborhood has to offer.

I became active in the East Village Association in 1997, when a developer requested a zoning change to build seven townhomes, with garage doors facing the street, on two under-sized city- lots. Organizing with my neighbors under the banner of EVA, we were able to positively influence the development, reducing the number of units to five and eliminating the garage doors and driveways. In the end, the developer made more money selling fewer, larger units, neighborhood children are safer not having to cross seven driveways on their way to school and twelve years later, the larger townhomes have higher property values and lower turn-over, adding stability to our community. The participation of the community made this a win-win situation for all parties and raised my awareness of the value of a neighborhood organization.

In the past twenty years, I have seen incredible changes in the community around me. The problems that we have faced as a community have gone from daily gunshots & slum-lords, to more gunshots & wholesale demolitions, to declining gunshots & over-development....to relative peace and quiet. I have always loved East Village, but today, I marvel all the more at what our community has to offer.



Stephen Rynkiewicz - Newsletter/Webmaster/Board Member


Stephen Rynkiewicz has enjoyed the vintage buildings of East Village and the company of his neighbors since joining EVA at the 1998 summer barbecue. He was part of EVA's preservation efforts and garden walk before launching eastvillagechicago.org in 2007. An Internet producer for the Chicago Tribune, Rynkiewicz has edited the EVA newsletter since 2008.



Thomas Tomek - Board Member



I’ve lived on Winchester Ave. in the East Village with my wife Paula since 1985. Our 2 children are enrolled at LaSalle II Magnet School in the neighborhood. I am very interested in our neighborhood and the local school community.

I grew up in Des Plaines, IL where I graduated from Maine Twp High School. I received a BFA from Northern Illinois University and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago.

I’ve been owner & principle at Tomek Design & Illustration Inc. since 1994 and also a partner at Atomek Design Ltd.. since 2005. I’ve made a career as a graphic illustrator and artist/ painter.

I’m a 10 year member of the CAPS program at the 13th District Wood St. Police Station. I’ve served as the president for the East Village Neighbors for a year from 2009 to 2010. I am currently an EVA board member, since the merger of the EVN & EVA.

I’ve worked with the Alderman of the 1st & 32nd wards in conjunction with both CAPS & EVN on a number of issues.

I feel a unified effort from the neighborhood will make a positive difference in the quality of our lives. Sensitivity to intelligent development and respect to the rich architectural history of our neighborhood is priority. I am excited to be a member of the EVA.


Aaron Bilton, Board Member

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