One ward for East Village?

If you need an alderman in East Village, who would you call? The neighborhood covers only about a half square-mile but falls within three Chicago wards. The East Village Association would like to change that.

The City Council is now redrawing its ward boundaries, as required after each U.S. Census. The council's Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics sets the process. EVA this month asked Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), the committee chair, to keep East Village within a single ward.

"As a result of being represented by 3 different Alderman we find it very difficult to develop plans and processes to fulfill the goals of EVA to improve our neighborhood," wrote Greg Nagel, EVA's president, in a letter to Mell.

Your voting address and your neighbors' may well be in different wards. Much of East Village is in the 1st Ward of Ald. Proco Joe Moreno. However, Moreno says boundaries are likely to move west to reflect a Latino population shift.

Ald. Walter Burnett's 27th Ward now covers much of the Eckhart Park area east of Ashland Avenue, including the redevelopment site at St. Boniface Church. Meanwhile, Scott Waguespack's 32nd Ward includes the growing Damen Avenue corridor of small businesses, brick cottages and rehabbed apartments.

With no single alderman responsible for East Village development, EVA must make sure their City Council representatives focus beyond Lakeview, Logan Square or Old Town. EVA volunteers must reach out to each of them them, encourage consultation with the group on West Town issues, and try to get everyone on the same page.

Which ward would be the best fit for East Village? Nagel notes that Waguespack's orderly approach to development comes closest to EVA's. When he took office in 2007, Waguespack established detailed zoning guidelines and development protocols that EVA quickly adopted as its own.

"This has closely aligned our community's vision for development with that of the 32nd Ward, and thus it would be beneficial if all of our community was included in the 32nd Ward," Nagel's letter states. The request specifies the EVA boundaries of Division Street and Milwaukee, Chicago and Damen avenues.

The new ward map is due Dec. 1, but Maya Solis, speaking for Ald. Danny Solis (25th) of the city council’s Hispanic caucus, tells Chicago Journal that the deadline likely won't be met. Solis and Moreno are both holding ward remap meetings this week.

Prompting the new wards are are 2010 Census results that reflect a smaller Chicago with a growing Hispanic population. A map drafted by the Hispanic caucus would concentrate Latino influence within the 1st Ward, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Any ward map must follow federal election law that preserves black and Hispanic representation.

The new wards will need 41 out of 50 City Council votes. If 10 aldermen back a different set of boundaries, Chicago voters would choose one of the maps in the March 20 presidential primary election.
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