Recycle those blinking lights

Why save the light strings that went dark this Christmas season? Keeping them in the attic isn't going to improve the odds they'll work next year. Maybe it's time to toss 'em all and buy LED lights at the holiday clearance sales.

Recyclers can Recycle Christmas tree lights at the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce or other city drop-off points. (The chamber office is closed New Year's Eve.)

More ambitious recyclers can drop off the bare Christmas tree for shredding at the Humboldt Park boathouse or other city parks, saving them from the uncertain fate of Streets & Sanitation alley pickup. The park district will make much from the trees available after Jan. 7.

LaSalle II gets midterm score Jan. 11

A midyear progress report for LaSalle II Magnet Academy is set for 6 p.m. Jan. 11 at the school, 1148 N. Honore.

Principal Suzanne Velasquez-Sheehy will measure progress under LaSalle II's School Improvement Plan, the biennial goals set with the local school council. LaSalle was launched under the city's Renaissance 2010 plan, which holds the school to a five-year performance review. Its curriculum includes language instruction in Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and Urdu.

In LaSalle II's 2010 School Report Card released last month, 85 percent of tests met state requirements. According to a Chicago Tribune analysis, that's better than 57 percent of the state's schools. However, LaSalle II tests lagged in the proportion of top-tier results.

LaSalle II gets a high value-added score for math. Pupils show above-average academic growth among city schools.

EVA News: Bakery vote, neighbohood cheer

A rooftop deck for the planned Bleeding Heart Bakery Cafe will face a Jan. 3 East Village Association membership vote. Read more about the bakery and adjoining pizzaria at Chicago and Winchester, and check out photos from the East Village holiday party, in the January 2011 issue of East Village News. Download it here. Happy holidays!

Jan. 3 EVA vote limited to Bleeding Heart deck

President's Message | By Greg Nagel  

At our Jan. 3 meeting, EVA will take a vote on the specific request brought to us regarding the special use for Bleeding Heart Bakery Cafe to have a rooftop deck.

The specific motion that will be voted on is as follows: The East Village Association supports the Bleeding Heart Bakery receiving a Special Use allowing them to get a permit for a rooftop deck at 1916 W. Chicago.

Members that want Bleeding Heart to get a rooftop deck would vote affirmatively in favor of this motion. Members that do not want Bleeding Heart to get a rooftop deck shall vote negatively or against this motion.

The specific request had nothing to do with Roots other than they happened to be the same developers and information regarding both projects were presented to EVA simultaneously. Therefore, our vote will be specific to just Bleeding Heart. That means that despite the result of the vote on the Bleeding Heart Special Use, there should be no misunderstanding that this vote is an EVA endorsement nor a EVA rebuff of the Roots business.

The reasoning behind making this a more narrowly defined vote, is that the EVA should only be voting on items that we have an influence on. The Roots project is currently under construction and they are moving forward as a matter of right.

As the moderator of the meeting, I will focus the Q&A and commentary regarding the Bleeding Heart proposal on just Bleeding Heart. With that said, we have asked the Roots developers to present what their business plan regarding Roots and to be open to questions and commentary after and only after the vote has taken place.

As this project has generated a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of concern, I would remind all that we want everyone to express their opinion but to do so in a neighborly and respectful way. If necessary, I will remind people of this during the meeting.

Per our bylaws, only members over 16 years of age and who have been members for a minimum of one month are eligible to vote. An individual or a senior membership entitles the holder to one vote. In a family membership each family member of voting age is entitled to vote, however, the voting capacity of a family membership cannot exceed three votes. An institutional membership entitles a designated person to one vote.

We look forward to seeing you on Jan. 3. Happy holidays!

East Village holiday party

Click for more photos from the Dec. 6 potluck dinner at Wooden Gallery, 1007-15 N. Wolcott, where the work of artist Jerzy Kenar is on display.

Board clears deck for cafe vote

Dec. 13 board meeting minutes submitted by Dana Palmer


Board members Greg Nagel, Neal McKnight, Dana Palmer, Tom Tomek, Scott Rappe and Stephen Rynkiewicz, non-board member Rich Anselmo. Meeting commenced 6:33 p.m.

Bleeding Heart/Roots

The board discussed plans for development of Roots at 1924 W. Chicago Ave. and Bleeding Heart Bakery at 1916 W. Chicago Ave. Although these two businesses were presented together, the board concluded that they are two separate businesses and EVA is being asked to support a special use zoning for a rooftop deck at the 1916 W. Chicago Ave. address for Bleeding Heart Bakery. Therefore, at the January membership meeting, a vote will take place regarding whether to support or oppose the special use zoning for the rooftop deck only. Greg Nagel will draft a statement and seek board approval regarding the board and Planning, Preservation and Development Committee stance regarding this request and it will be posted in the EVA newsletter.

In regards to the Roots development at 1924 W. Chicago Ave., concern was brought forth regarding the lack of concessions to neighbors. However, construction has already begun at that site. Therefore, the board has decided the best course of action would be to present the neighbors' concerns to the alderman.

Trees on Augusta

Neal McKnight spoke with arborist Mark Duntemann, who stated that spring would be a good time to start the tree inventory. His plans are to have a training session for residents interested in volunteering in April and then begin the inventory in May.

January Membership Meeting

The Jan. 3 agenda is set for A.Vision (910 N. Damen Ave.) to do the business minute and then Bleeding Heart/Roots to be guest speakers. For February, Greg Nagel will contact the alderman's office to request a Streets & Sanitation guest speaker.

New Business

Rich Anselmo raised the issue of property values being greatly linked to schools in the area and what can be done to improve high schools in East Village. He agreed to write an article for the newsletter regarding this issue.

Greg Nagel also presented an initiative that he came up with and presented to the alderman called the Collaborative Development Council. Nagel stated that the alderman is in favor and is looking to enlist this program as a delegate agency under his office. The goal would be to work with the neighborhood groups, chambers of commerce, alderman's office and local businesses to achieve a common goal, for example a coffee kiosk in the Polish Triangle. The CDC would gather the opinions and concerns of all the groups and attempt to come up with an agreement and put it into action.

CAPS report

Tom Tomek presented a follow-up regarding the recent CAPS meeting. The recent shooting near Wells High School is suspected to be a gang issue involving an older individual. Also, thefts on the CTA were said to be eliminated after students were expelled. Finally, some thefts have been occurring on Marshfield at empty buildings and construction sites.

Meeting adjourned 8:16 p.m.

Roots/Bleeding Heart: EVA issues

Scott Rappe, co-chair of EVA's Planning, Preservation & Development committee, outlined EVA concerns with the Roots/Bleeding Heart Bakery restaurant plan in a Nov. 9 letter to its developers. Scott Weiner and Greg Mohr of The Fifty/50 met Nov. 8 with the EVA board. Read Weiner & Mohr's reply.

Thank you for attending the EVA board meeting, presenting your plans and answering the board’s questions. The East Village Association is interested in seeing Chicago Avenue flourish and supports responsible businesses that are compatible with the surrounding residential neighborhood.

The proposed restaurant and bakery include positive aspects, but the prominent presence of the restaurant/bar on an otherwise quiet residential side street also presents some serious concerns. In particular, objections were raised regarding the emphasis on outdoor seating and openings from the bar to the street, the placement of a pick-up window that may invite double parking and the logistical challenges to deliveries, trash pick-up and patron parking presented by the narrow alley.

It is our understanding that you are seeking support from the East Village Association for the following:

  1. A zoning change to convert the north portion of 1916 W. Chicago Ave. from RT-4 to B3-2.

  2. A zoning 'Special Use' to allow a rooftop deck on 1916 W. Chicago Ave. for the exclusive use of Bleeding Heart Bakery.

In order for our general membership to vote on these issues, you will need to submit an article for publication in the East Village News, and then make a presentation to the general membership at our monthly meeting. We have scheduled your presentation for our Jan. 3 meeting at the Happy Village Tavern at 7 p.m.. When writing the article, make certain to specifically address what you are requesting support for. Please email the article to our newsletter editor no later than Nov. 20.

After making your presentation, the Planning, Preservation & Development committee will present its recommendation to the general membership, and make a formal motion for a vote. In advance of the PPD committee forming its recommendation, the East Village Association board recommends that you modify your plans as follows:

  • Eliminate the pickup window facing Winchester Street.

  • Provide trash receptacle storage for the restaurant & bakery within the building so that it does not obstruct the alley.

  • Add a stairwell at the front of Bleeding Heart to facilitate Chicago Avenue deliveries.

The East Village Association board further recommends that you agree to execute a restrictive covenant recorded on the deed of the property that:

  • Limits the extent of the outdoor café on Winchester Street to no further than 60' north of the Chicago Avenue property line.

  • Prohibits sound amplification in the outdoor cafe.

  • Requires closure of the outdoor café, all windows opening into the bar and the rooftop deck by 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

  • Requires consultation with the East Village Association every year, prior to submitting application for sidewalk café. Consultation shall mean the meaningful participation of at least one controlling owner of the business, at one of the following: an EVA board meeting, an EVA general membership meeting, or a meeting with the alderman.

  • Commit to training & holding accountable your outgoing and incoming delivery drivers to not double park, not block the alley, and to find legal parking or utilize the front loading zone.

Please seriously consider these suggestions as they would likely lead to a positive recommendation from the PPD committee.

Roots pizza project adds ingredients

Developer Scott Weiner sent the East Village Association board this statement Dec. 1 on the Roots Handmade Pizza/Bleeding Heart Bakery Café, 1916-24 W. Chicago Ave. EVA members will vote Jan. 3 to advise Ald. Joe Moreno (1st Ward) on the project.

Thank you for the opportunity to meet to discuss the concept for our project as well as its impact on the neighborhood and Chicago Avenue corridor. We have received your recommendations in regards to modification of our plans and we are hoping our concessions will help alleviate some of the concerns without sacrificing our business model or ability to make impactful business decisions down the road.

We have completely redesigned our architectural plans to move our trash and recycling off and out of the alley and into our building. They are now enclosed within our building to eliminate our complete trash presence in the alley.

As mentioned prior, we are using electric baking equipment, which is much more expensive but ultimately better for consistent baking as it controls temperature better. Our pizza oven is included in this. This will substantially limit the amount of our exhaust presence.

For our equipment that has to be gas (burners, deep fryer, etc.), we are using a heat recovery ventilation system designed by Marshall Air Systems (current best bid). Basically what this equipment does is provide a counterflow heat exchanger, which converts much of the heat from our hoods and exhaust into fresh, breathable air that can heat or ventilate the restaurant. It is part of our energy efficiency and will also save us money over time, albeit more expensive up front. It will also create much less outside exhaust.

With regards to eliminating the pickup window on Winchester Street, this is something that we cannot do. We have spoken to the alderman in regards to getting a loading zone on both Chicago Avenue and Winchester Street and there is initial support for this. This will hopefully alleviate the concern of people double parking while picking up their food.

If we do receive the support of the EVA board, we will agree to support the following, which we currently oppose. We will work with EVA and the alderman to:
  • Make Winchester a 2-way street. This will alleviate traffic coming into the neighborhood.

  • Make Winchester (north of the alley) and other neighborhood streets within a 2 block vicinity permit parking only.

With regards to adding a stairwell to the front of BHB, this is impossible if I understand it correctly. There is no basement for BHB so there would be nowhere for the stairwell to go except up, which is the rooftop. In terms of Roots, there is a stairwell in the front on Chicago Avenue to facilitate deliveries on Chicago Avenue. With regards to deliveries for BHB, trucks will park in the loading zone on Chicago Avenue. They will wheel the deliveries around to the back. This is exactly how most deliveries take place for Fifty/50 and we have not received any neighborhood complaints. As opposed to the alley off of Winchester, where there is a fence, our alley is completely combined and integrated with residential garages and parking.

With regards to executing restrictive covenants on the deed of the property, we are not willing to do so, as it creates problems if we ever try to sell. It also requires the approval of all of our investors, which most will not agree. We are willing to put certain concessions or property rules into writing and have them notarized. These are contingent upon approval of our project and special use permit by the EVA board and a decision to “not oppose” by EVA.

We will not limit the extent of the outdoor café on Winchester Street to 60 feet. We will attempt to set up our patio with service stations being on the north end of the patio to limit the amount of people that are closer to residential.

We will prohibit sound amplification on the outdoor café. There will be absolutely no speakers outside. We will place inside speakers in positions to not amplify outside, to the best of our ability, without sacrificing indoor sound quality.

We will run the outdoor café according to city ordinances. We will not close early or place any restrictions that the city does not already place.

All windows past the 60-foot mark (estimate) on Winchester will be closed when the patio closes or earlier based on business and weather. Windows on the front half of Winchester (basically on the corner of Chicago and Winchester) will stay open as business and weather dictate. After the first couple months that we are open, we are more than willing to sit own and revisit this if it does prove to be a nuisance to our neighbors.

In regards to the pickup and carry-out window on Winchester, we will close this when we close our kitchen for normal business hours. On weekends this will be 2 a.m.d and it will be earlier on the weekdays. We will have security on site at the restaurant every night, just like Fifty/50, and will not permit loitering. There will also be an outdoor surveillance camera, similar to that of Fifty/50.

We have no objection to sitting down with EVA board every year to discuss our sidewalk café. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss issues over the past year and how we can improve them, if there are any. This meeting will not be to reapprove the layout or hours of the patio.

We will commit to training and doing anything possible to making sure nobody is double parked and the alley is not blocked. We hope the dual loading zones will make this easier for everyone.

As we’ve said in the past, the residents of this neighborhood and this general area are our target audience and we want to do what is right to protect their ability to enjoy a peaceful and safe neighborhood. We also have to balance the needs of our business and feel that these
concessions are reasonable and fair to everyone.

There also may have been a misunderstanding regarding what it is that we are asking for EVA to “not oppose.” We are asking for EVA to “not oppose” our special use permit for the rooftop deck. We are not looking for the support of EVA for a zoning change. Thank you for you consideration.

Scott Weiner & Greg Mohr