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News From Uptown Chicago Commission
February 2008

Welcome to Uptown Chicago Commission's bi- monthly newsletter. Comments, feedback and suggestions for articles are welcome. Please email us at uptownchicago@sbcglobal.net.

in this issue
  • Letter from the President
  • Public Safety
  • Community Opposes Labor Ready
  • Upcoming Events

  • Public Safety
    CAPS march

    Positive Changes Ahead at 4715 N. Sheridan? Larry Fischman, a developer who owns the building at 4715 N. Sheridan, has recently initiated eviction notices to all the residential tenants at the crime-plagued property. The building houses Cafe Too on the first floor. He intends to refurbish the residential units and offer the property at market-rate rents.

    Changes at Salvation Army Tom Seay Center: This location, at 1025 W. Sunnyside, will no longer serve as an overnight shelter for the homeless. The Center will continue to provide daytime support, including hot meals, literacy programs, and personal care. UCC has sent letters to both the Salvation Army and REST, a homeless shelter located at 941 W. Lawrence, expressing concern about high levels of criminal activity based on data from CAPS.

    Upcoming CAPS meetings

    Beat 2311-- First Tuesday of every month, Truman College, Room 1905: 1145 W. Wilson.

    Beat 2312--Third Tuesday of every month, 4645 N. Sheridan: Community Room

    Beat 2024 -- Third Thursday of even months, Margate Park: 4921 N. Marine Dr.

    Beat 2033 - First Tuesday, every other month, 4848 N. Winthrop

    Court Advocacy-- For further information on court advocacy cases, please contact the 23rd District Community Policing Office at 312- 744- 0064 or 20th District at 312-742-8770.

    Community Opposes Labor Ready

    Approximately 50 members of the Uptown community, including representatives from UCC, attended a Feb. 15 hearing of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to oppose a day labor company from opening at 4830 N. Sheridan Rd.

    Labor Ready Midwest Inc. needs to obtain a special use permit to open a branch office on a site that straddles the 46th and 48th Wards. The site is located in the 46th Ward.

    In protesting Labor Ready's proposed special use permit, UCC and other block clubs have cited the location's proximity to two elementary schools and a play lot. Residents also said they feared the negative impact that a day labor agency would have on pedestrian traffic and future commercial development. At the hearing, community residents questioned Labor Ready's business practices and their suitability for a residential neighborhood. Residents emphasized the need to check workers' backgrounds for felony convictions and sex offenses.

    Currently, Labor Ready requires applicants to complete a survey that asks about drug use and other issues that may affect job performance.

    Community members opposed the permit, but also prepared a code of conduct which they expected LR to adhere to should the permit be granted. Helen Shiller and Labor Ready were in agreement on most of the points. And the ZBA seemed very interested in this compromise of sorts. The matter was taken under advisement by ZBA and we were told they would send a letter to everyone who signed in - communicating their decision.

    In response to questions from community members, Labor Ready officials said they would perform screenings to determine whether applicants had committed sexual assaults, a departure from their current practices.
    Community residents also prepared a code of conduct which they expected Labor Ready to adhere to should the permit be granted. 46th Ward Alderman Helen Shiller, who said she has received support for the creation of the agency from local social service agencies, and Labor Ready agreed to many of the conduct standards sought by community members. Enforcement of the standards would take place through the city's licensing department, according to Shiller.

    Instead of locating the business at the proposed location on Sheridan Road, UCC had recommended that Labor Ready consider a site in the nearby Ravenswood Ave. industrial corridor. A day labor agency would not require a special use permit within that area.

    Two of the ZBA's five members were unable to attend the Feb. 15 hearing; three votes of approval are required for the request to be granted. Members who did not attend the hearing will review the testimony before a final decision is rendered. The ZBA is expected to make a final decision on the day labor request in the near future, and community residents will be notified, ZBA officials said.

    Other zoning news:

    -- Aldermen Mary Ann Smith (48) and Helen Shiller (46) are working on a streetscape of Broadway from Wilson to Devon. The street infrastructure near Broadway and Lawrence may be curbless to accommodate future outdoor festivals.

    -- The Urban Land Institute is working with community members and elected officials on recommendations for enhancements of the Argyle Street commercial district.

    -- Alderman Smith is launching a large redevelopment of the McCutcheon School campus. The school grounds will be linked to the McCormick Boys and Girls Club, providing access to amenities during school hours of operation. Additional programming will be introduced to assist the large population of homeless children at the school. Approximately 45% of the school's students are drawn from the Salvation Army family homeless shelter at Lawrence and Marine.

    -- At its December meeting, UCC reviewed and approved plans for a special use permit by the North Side Federal Savings and Loan Association to build off-street parking at 1475 W. Foster Ave. The proposed parking area will accommodate up to 13 vehicles and includes green space and landscaping. UCC also approved plans for a special use permit by Robert Jeffrey Hair Salon to build a new location at 5142 N. Clark St. #

    Upcoming Events

    Turn Off on Earth Hour

    The City of Chicago and ComEd are joining an international effort to draw attention to global warming by asking residents to turn off lights and unplug electrical devices for one hour on Saturday, March 29. Earth Hour, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, claims that energy consumption was reduced by 10 percent last year when residents of Sydney, Australia, cut their use of lights and devices. Chicago officials have been working with city building office managers, including the Merchandise Mart and Sears Tower, to participate. For more information, go to: www.earthhour.org

    SEND US YOUR EVENTS: Send information about neighborhood news, activities and upcoming events to: uptownchicago@sbcglobal.net.


    Letter from the President

    Thanks to all residents who took time out of their day on Feb. 15 to attend the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hearing on the request by Labor Ready to set up business on Sheridan Road.

    UCC recognizes the need for unemployed individuals served by our local social service agencies to re-join the workforce.

    However, we have serious concerns about locating this type of business in close proximity to two elementary schools and a playlot in light of the background of some day labor employees.

    In addition, we remain concerned about the negative impact that this type of business will have on pedestrian traffic and the struggling commercial development on North Sheridan Rd.

    Despite our opposition, we were pleased to see the interest by Labor Ready officials in abiding by proposed standards of conduct that community groups presented at the hearing.

    Representatives from UCC attended the hearing, and we will keep you informed of ongoing developments.

    The Labor Ready issue is a perfect illustration of why our community needs to stay involved and connected. When we speak in a unified voice, we can - - and are -- seeing results! If you are not a member of your local block club, please consider joining. (see the link below to our list). And UCC welcomes new members, which is another great way to meet your neighbors and to get your voice heard.

    See you in the neighborhood!

    - Kathy Cook
    UCC President

    Uptown block clubs
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