Active Trans tracks stalled Ashland BRT

EVA members voted in 2014 to oppose the CTA's Ashland Bus Rapid Transit plan.

East Village Association board minutes for July 13, 2015, by Michael VanDam

Ashland BRT

A representative from the advocacy group Active Transportation Alliance would like to speak to the group to “get the temperature” of our views on the Ashland Bus Rapid Transit project. Considering that no new information has been released and no plans announced, Brian Foote and Catherine Garypie will reach out to try and get a better sense of the request.

Club Foot proposal

The person interested in opening a new venture at the Club Foot location, 1824 W. Augusta Blvd., sent responses to the developer questionnaire EVA requires for development requests. Dan Johnson will forward to the board for review.

Eckhart Park, Peabody School, St. Boniface updates

Peabody School will be developed as condos, its annex as a charter school.

East Village Association minutes for July 6, 2015, by Michael VanDam

Friends of Eckhart Park

Michelle Russell and Dana Tedesco of Friends of Eckhart Park introduced the group, dedicated to improving and maintaining Eckhart Park. Upcoming events at 1330 W. Chicago Ave. include:

  • Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, 6:30-8 pm Aug. 14 and 15. The talented actors from Chicago Shakespeare will be performing “Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits,” combining Shakespeare’s characters and scenes with today’s popular music.
  • Movies in the Park, 8pm Aug. 16. Join your friends in the neighborhood for “Back to the Future.”

More information can be found at the Friends of Eckhart Park Facebook group or by e-mailing friendsofeckhartpark

Planning, Preservation and Development Update

St. Boniface – A group of local property owners is dealing with Carefree Corp. on the redevelopment of St. Boniface. It remains uncertain how much of the church at 1358 W. Chestnut St. will be saved and what specific use the property will have. Currently the plan calls for “market rate - for sale” units, and potentially only the four towers of the church will be preserved. They are working on a proposal with 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett Jr.

Peabody School – The smaller building at 1434 W. Augusta Blvd. has been sold to the adjacent charter school, despite earlier promises that closed Chicago Public School buildings would not be sold to charters. The main building appears to be slated for condos.

New Business

An attendee asked for the best source for up-to-date neighborhood news. The consensus was that the Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Watch and Community Page for Ukrainian Village groups on Facebook were the most relevant.

Meet new police commander Friday

The new 12th District police commander will discuss police and community relations Friday, July 10 in Ukrainian Village.

The meeting with Cmdr. Edward J. Kulbida starts 6pm in the auditorium at Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, 1127 N. Oakley Blvd.

Kulbida replaced Melissa Staples on April 27 as commander of the city's largest police district. As a captain in the Englewood District on the South Side, he was shot last October in a six-hour fugitive standoff. Staples is now second in command of the Area North detectives division.

Will sidewalk cafes stay in the clear?

A stroll down Division Street could become an obstacle course without rules for sidewalk cafes. Even a tidy array of tables and chairs might over the summer creep into the path of pedestrians.

The approved plan shouldn't be a mystery, though: The city requires exact dimensions and a seating count to be posted on the outside wall or in the window of each restaurant. However, on an informal East Village Association inspection, half the plans weren't posted.

The rules make a sidewalk cafe easy to spot: They require a firm, continuous barrier that blind people can find with the tap of a cane. It should be unobtrusive: Cafes shouldn't play music, or stay open past midnight. Layouts make way for handicapped seating, with alternatives to high-top tables and barstools. And cafes should be pretty, with plants decorating the surroundings.

The barrier should leave 6 feet of sidewalk clear, and restaurants should keep waiting patrons from blocking that walkway. Open doorways, bus shelters, parking-permit boxes and most other obstacles must get the same berth.

The fence also should stop a foot from the curb, to give car passengers and pedestrians some room to move. A few cafes in the EVA spot check seemed to fall short on that measure.

Restaurants that get cafe permits pay city fees of at least $600 a year, and require an alderman to sign off on plans. Ald. Proco Joe Moreno insisted that tree pits be restored where they'd been taken down at Red Square, 1914 W. Division St. Taus Authentic Food & Drink rebuilt two of four tree pits removed by the former Prasino restaurant, 1846 W. Division St., under a deal with Moreno to restore the others next year.

Fines for cafe violations range from $200 to $500 a day, and three strikes against a restaurant can lead the city to revoke a permit. Restaurant staffers are instructed to keep the sidewalk clear, and the city makes occasional on-site inspections.

EVA has discussed ways to contribute to a more walkable street, but a program to check cafe permits may not be the best use of volunteer time. Diners can do their part by keeping their neighbors' path in mind.