East Village Association 2012 directors tell their stories

East Village Association members on March 5 approved 2012 officers. Incoming president Neal McKnight filled out the board March 12 with these committee appointments to join vice president and planning co-chair Peter Locke, treasurer KK Goh and secretary Meghan Quinn.

Gladys Alcazar-Anselmo

As East Village Association president in 1997 and 1998 and board member for several years, I bring a historical perspective and experience to the 2012 board. I worked on the initial implementation of the CAPS program and spearheaded the preservation efforts that resulted in the city’s purchase of the Goldblatt’s building, now home to city offices and our local library.

I have more than 10 years' professional experience in municipal government, focusing on special projects and operations management. Currently I provide tailored management consulting services including program development and implementation, construction project management, meeting planning and documentation preparation. A graduate of DePaul University, I earned a Master of Arts in human services & counseling/ management and a Bachelor of Science in marketing.

Born and raised in the Logan Square community, I've lived in East Village for more than 20 years and know the commitment it takes for residents who want to improve their community.

Greg Nagel, business liaison

I served as EVA's president the last two years and vice president for the 2 years preceding years. I'm excited to stay involved but in a more advisory capacity.

When I first joined EVA, it was an anti-development and business unfriendly organization in my estimation, where many neighbors where chased out of the group. I now feel the organization has a much healthier tone and does a good job balancing the development and resident lifestyle issues. Our homes are both our nest and our nest egg, and we need to consider both factors. Over the years as I have learned about urban planning, I have seen my viewpoint move from a pro-development position to more of a moderate position.

I work as a residential Realtor concentrating on houses, condos, and multiunit apartment building in West Town. I'm a huge proponent of West Town and specifically East Village, as I feel that this is a beautiful and affordable green residential community just steps from downtown.

I've lived in my 4 flat for the last 10 years, and you will often find me on my roof deck smoking a cigar and having a drink or three.

Scott Rappe, Planning, Preservation & Development co-chair

I came to East Village in 1988, and after spending a year restoring a building on Division Street for my father's architectural firm 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. In 1998 I established my architecture firm on Division Street. My practice focuses on serving the design needs of families, small businesses and the communities they inhabit.

My sons, Matthew and 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. Nicholas is in sixth grade at A.N. Pritzker Elementary School, and Matthew is a freshman at Jones College Prep in the Loop. I am confident that they are getting the best educational experiences possible — surrounded by 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 dense 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 undersized 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 12 years later the townhomes have higher property values and lower turnover, adding stability to our community. 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 editor & webmaster

It must have been the blue signs on the lightposts. They marked East Village as the handsome, up-and-coming neighborhood I couldn't find on the map. But reporters check out their first impressions.

So when I was moving from Oak Park back to the city in 1998, I tracked down the people who worked wonders the year before to save the vacant Goldblatt's department-store building. I found them serving hot dogs for a sunny patio potluck at the Happy Village tavern, and joined the East Village Association on the spot.

My partner Brenda Russell led EVA 10 years ago as it tried to save the oldest house in the neighborhood, a remodeling challenge that was beyond my own rehabbing resources. The Goldblatt's magic did not rub off on the Huntley House. But Brenda and I bonded with our co-conspirators in long evenings of assembling the EVA newsletters, which got dropped off at a few shops and bars en route to the post office. At the time, it seemed there had to be a better way to get the word out.

Five years later I thought I had one, and set up EVA's website. The editing job fell to me the next year, and my after-hours pursuits grew more like my day job, as an editor and developer for the Chicago Tribune's website. If that makes me a dull boy, I can clear my head jogging through Eckhart Park or picking up books from the branch library in the Goldblatt's building. But feel free to suggest another diversion; there are many nearby. East Village is on the map.

Tom Tomek, CAPS & schools chair

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

I've also been involved for more than a decade with the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy at the 13th District Wood Street police station. I've worked with the aldermen of the 1st and 32nd wards for CAPS and as former president of East Village Neighbors.

I’ve made a career as a graphic illustrator and artist/ painter. I’m owner & principal at Tomek Design & Illustration Inc. since 1994 and a partner at Atomek Design Ltd. since 2005. I grew up in Des Plaines, 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 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 are priorities.

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