Police to improve under consent decree, 2nd Ward's Rivera says

1st Ward alderman-elect Daniel La Spata accepts congratulations from 2nd Ward chief of staff Jose Rivera.

2nd Ward public safety

Ward chief of staff Jose Rivera says police Cmdr. Stephen Chung has responded creatively to crime patterns in the north edge of the 12th District. Community policing will change under a court-supervised consent decree now in effect. Officers will receive additional training in impartial policing and crisis intervention under a federal monitor. Detectives will have more time to clear cases.

Friends of Eckhart Park

Volunteers on April 27 will clean Eckhart Park, 1330 W. Chicago Ave., to mark Earth Day, said Ben Beadles of Friends of Eckhart Park. Garden plots are tended the first Tuesday of the month from May till September. Fundraising will support youth sports and purchase park benches, said Claudia Sainsot. More information is available on Facebook.

A 2017 plan for the Shake-It restaurant shows 941 square feet of outdoor seating along Rice Street at Damen Avenue (Thomas Architects).

New 1st Ward alderman

In visiting an EVA meeting last summer, Daniel La Spata admired the group's approach to a zoning advisory vote. In campaigning, La Spata said he recognized concerns about neighborhood safety and Chicago avenue development. Until he takes office May 20 he will be hiring staff and build relationships with schools and neighborhood associations.

In response to an audience comment on scaffolding at the West Town Branch Library, Ald. Brian Hopkins said that he's investigating remediation requirements and time limits in the use of protective canopies. La Spata said ranked-choice voting and other steps should be considered to raise voter turnout.

By 2023, La Spata hopes redrawn ward boundaries will be more contiguous. Asked about property taxes, La Spata said he plans town halls to develop "a budget that reflects our values." He hopes refusing campaign contributions will make developers and real estate attorneys more responsive.

Shake-It Restaurant

The Grace Auto garage closed at yearend and a hospitality group has resumed plans to develop the site as a restaurant with incidental liquor sales. In 2017, residents resisted initial plans at a public meeting. Ald. Hopkins said he has not seen a recent proposal. Thomas Raines, representing the group, said they will request no zoning changes but Hopkins has asked him to work with the community groups.

EVA president Michael VanDam has suggested early weeknight closings of the outdoor patio and building windows, steps to minimize the impact of dumpsters, and operation in line with nearby restaurants. Hopkins said he will hold another meeting with EVA and the Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association. James Conroy, UVNA president, said recent discussions around Happy Village development are a template for discussions.

Answering member questions, Raines said the restaurant will have patio seating but no outdoor speakers. Hopkins noted that most objections centered on patio operation, which Raines said would take up 950 square feet of space at Damen and Rice. There would be no parking spaces. Plans for a two-story building addition have undergone only minor changes. Hopkins expects EVA and UVNA to draft a plan of operation, and said the operators should be more prepared than in the initial presentation. Former EVA president Dan Johnson suggested that one alternative has been suggested: to vote the precinct dry.

EVA officers

As the meeting broke up, members affirmed the 2019-20 EVA officers slate:

  • Michael VanDam, President
  • Michelle Hayward, Vice President
  • John Gantner, Treasurer
  • Neal McKnight, Secretary

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