Ashland BRT: Make your voice heard

Catherine Garypie is a resident of the East Village, a member of EVA and an environmental attorney. She will give a short presentation at the 7pm Sept. 9 EVA meeting in the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave.

By Catherine Garypie

Express bus lanes along Ashland Avenue will not be built without an environmental analysis: It’s a requirement for federal funding. Here’s how the Bus Rapid Transit project will proceed and how you can participate.

The Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration defines a BRT as “an enhanced bus system that operates on bus lanes or other transitways in order to combine the flexibility of buses with the efficiency of rail.” BRTs are up and running both in the United States and elsewhere.

Chicago has one BRT currently operating: the Jeffrey Jump. Launched on Nov. 12, 2012, the Jeffery Jump J14 service runs from 103rd Street to Metra’s Ogilvie and Union Stations. Chicago is also developing a “Central Loop” BRT: bus-only lanes along Washington and Madison streets.

In July 2010, the CTA applied to the FTA for a Livability Alternatives Analysis grant to plan for BRT investments in the Western and Ashland Avenue corridors, and CTA was awarded $1.6 million in grant money in December 2010. The project has been separated into three phases: planning, design and construction.

Ashland BRT: Waiting for answers

East Village Association board minutes for August 19, 2013
Submitted by Meghan Quinn

Upcoming speakers
Neal McKnight will ask Catherine Garypie to speak in September about how to approach the BRT Environmental Impact Assessment. For October, we should ask the new LaSalle II principal.

Ashland BRT
The board discussed what stance should be taken, if any, on the Ashland Bus Rapid Transit. If there were an eventual vote, the Planning, Preservation & Development committee would make a recommendation in advance. However, we cannot take a stance at this point due to lack of information.

Some questions we still would like answers to are: Will there be a new line item in the budget? Can road dollars be used? CTA mentioned the Loop BRT as an upcoming example to look at, but there are one-way streets and no parking in those locations, making it a very different situation and hard to compare to the conditions on Ashland.

One of the crucial issues that will need to be addressed to gain support from EVA will be significant infrastructure upgrades/improvements on peripheral streets, as one of the biggest concerns is the rerouting of auto and truck traffic onto smaller streets. McKnight has spoken to Ald. Proco Joe Moreno, who is also currently undecided on the issue.

West Town library September adult programs

By Jason Nosek

Chicago History Book Club
Please join us on Tuesday, Sept. 3 to discuss "The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History" by Libby Hill.

The Chicago History Book Club meets at 6:30pm at the West Town Branch, 1625 W. Chicago Ave. The club explores the City’s history through reading and discussing books on events, themes, time periods and personalities that have contributed to making Chicago what it is today. If you cannot join us this time, please stop by the branch pick-up our next book "Fort Dearborn: A Novel" by Jerry Crimmins and join us to discuss it on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Film Screening: 'Al Otro Lado' (To the Other Side)
Please join us in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month by attending a free screening of 'Al Otro Lado' at 6pm Thursday, Sept. 5.

The proud Mexican tradition of corrido music – captured in the performances of Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte and the late Chalino Sanchez – provides both heartbeat and backbone to this rich examination of songs, drugs and dreams along the U.S.-Mexico border. "Al Otro Lado" follows Magdiel, an aspiring corrido composer from the drug capital of Mexico, as he faces two difficult choices to better his life: to traffic drugs or to cross the border illegally into the United States. An Official Selection of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Quigley on Congress, CTA on Ashland BRT

East Village Association membership meeting minutes, Aug. 5, 2013
Submitted by Meghan Quinn

Guest Speaker: Congressman Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley stopped by to talk about his work representing Illinois’ 5th Congressional District. He pointed out that there are approximately 750,000 people in his district, which covers a wide geographical area, and includes Old Town as well as Hinsdale. He touched on the well-known legacy of the 5th district, and infamy of a few of its past representatives, namely Dan Rostenkowski and Rod Blagojevich. Quigley has proposed smart policies to crack down on corruption and increase government transparency. He introduced the State Ethics Law Protection Act with Sen. Mark Kirk to target pay-to-play politics.

Quigley supports issues such as environmental protection, equal rights, and ethical, open government. According to Quigley's website, during his time on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Quigley sponsored every piece of major environmental legislation adopted by Cook County government, and still regularly participates in local cleanup and restoration efforts, earning him awards from the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. The Chicago Reader has said he is “arguably the greenest elected official in Chicago.” Additionally, Quigley continues to fight for equal rights for those in the LGBT community, additional protections for victims of domestic abuse, and a woman’s right to choose.

An advocate for government reform and accountability, Quigley wrote several reports laying out detailed plans for the “reinventing” of the federal budget, starting from scratch and asking tough questions about what the government actually needs. He also presented a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would provide Americans with an itemized receipt for their tax returns.

West Town crime: July 2013

Crime in the West Town community was down across the board in July, according to police figures. The East Village Association analyzed statistics downloaded from the City of Chicago Data Portal and published on the Chicago Tribune Crime in Chicago website, comparing them to 2012.

  July 2013 July 2012 % Change YTD 2013 YTD 2012 % Change
Homicide 0 1 -100% 5 5 0%
Sexual Assault 4 6 -33% 15 16 -6%
Assault 5 17 -71% 46 57 -19%
Battery 13 9 44% 71 78 -9%
Robbery 37 51 -27% 184 236 -22%
Violent Crime 59 84 -30% 321 392 -18%
Burglary 82 87 -6% 433 440 -2%
Theft 229 319 -28% 1,397 1,685 -17%
Motor Vehicle Theft 33 83 -60% 312 369 -15%
Arson 0 0 0% 5 4 25%
Property Crime 344 489 -30% 2,147 2,498 -14%
Criminal Damage 78 144 -46% 479 690 -31%
Prostitution 0 1 -100% 5 8 -38%
Narcotics 31 39 -21% 183 345 -47%
Lifestyle Crime 109 184 -41% 667 1,043 -36%
Total 512 757 -32% 3,135 3,933 -20%

Playlots marked for 2014 upgrade

Western Park, 907 N. Western Ave.

By Ronda Locke

Four local playgrounds are scheduled for renovation next year, Ald. Proco Joe Moreno announced Thursday. Monticello (1814 N. Monticello), Snowberry (1855 W. Huron), Superior (2101 W. Superior) and Western (907 N. Western) playlots were selected.

"Our communities made a superior case to the Chicago Plays! program, which is run by Friends of the Parks," Moreno said. "The commitment and enthusiasm of our community was clear to the Chicago Park District and Friends of the Parks."

The Commercial Park Advisory Council helps to oversee three local playlots: Honore, Superior and Snowberry. We applied for three grants offered up by Chicago Park District and helped facilitated by Friends of the Parks. We received a note about a month or so ago among some 50 granted across the city, all three of our requests were granted.

We are still waiting for details, but per the alderman, we understand that he is willing to kick in and help completely redo Superior or Snowberry and just secured approval to move one of these forward. (Honore, 916 N. Honore St., is in Ald. Bob Fioretti’s ward.) Moreno expressed an interested in getting community input into what new equipment is wanted, so we are at the very front end of the process.

Construction dates and designs will be announced in early 2014, Moreno said, with a July completion target. The community raised half the estimated $540,000 for Commercial Park renovations.

Quigley reports on Congress

Rep. Mike Quigley (Chicago Tribune photo)

As the U.S. House of Representatives heads toward its August recess this weekend, Rep. Mike Quigley has set the Happy Village as an early stop on his return to the 5th Congressional District.

Quigley says he will attend Monday's 7pm East Village Association meeting at 1059 N. Wolcott Ave. Quigley will speak for 15 minutes and answer questions.

In recent weeks, the House Appropriations Committee member fought to restore a $190 million cut from Asian carp control and Great Lakes cleanup, fund community policing and roll back an increase for the B61 nuclear bomb. He also pushed for reduced nuclear stockpiles and increased firearms tracking and National Security Agency oversight.

The Aug. 5 EVA meeting will also continue discussion of the Ashland Bus Rapid Transit plan. Joe Iacobucci, the Chicago Transit Authority's planning and policy manager, has agreed to attend.

Neal McKnight and Scott Rappe of EVA met with CTA and Chicago Department of Transportation staff in July on the potential advantages and shortcomings of Ashland Avenue bus lanes. "My impression is that there is a great deal of momentum in the city government in favor of this project," McKnight says.