Thursday, July 12, 2012

40th and 47th Wards "re-map re-cap": Two aldermen for the price of one!

40 plus neighbors and officials gather in the Amundsen High School library to discuss the Ward map transition around the northern end of Lincoln Square (photo Eric Rojas)

 Here's a few photos and quick recap from Tuesday July 10th's great meeting with 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O'Connor and 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar.  The Lincoln Square North Neighbors and Winnemac Park Neighbors sponsored the meeting and appreciate the alderman and almost 50 neighbors that packed Amundsen Library. Notables in attendance included former Amundsen principal Carlos Munoz, new Amundsen principal Anna Pavichevich, Local School Council members from Amundsen and Chappell schools, Winnemac Park Advisory Council members and our neighbors!  Read more at CENTER SQUARE JOURNAL

Alderman's Pawar (far right) and O'Connor explain how they collaborate on issues affecting the re-map zone                 (photo Eric Rojas)
Winnemac Park Neighbors participated in another informational meeting last Tuesday.  The goal of the meeting was to discuss the practical issues of the ward re-map and representation issues now that the northern portion of the 47th Ward has been "re-mapped" into the 40th Ward (click the link for a map).  We discussed the actual timeline for the office change of wards, how the alderman work together on developments in this area and how they work with the schools affected by the ward change.

Without getting into fine detail, we learned the political process of the ward map change is ongoing.  The new voting precincts must be established and "certified" (my words).  Once that happens, the 47th Ward residents affected by the re-map are officially in the 40th Ward -barring any unlikely lawsuits that would hold things up.

At the immediate moment, however, issues like development and zoning that are in the area of transition will take on a more collaborative process between the 47th Ward and 40th Ward offices.  We learned from the alderman that this is already how they have been doing business.  Many developments like the Lawrence Avenue Streetscape (47th Ward) and the new Mariano's development at Lawrence and Ravenswood for, example, have been a collaborative process between the representatives and have required great cooperation. The use of TIF dollars and other details required agreement by both jurisdictions.

Alderman O'Connor answered questions concerning his philosophy regarding involvement in school improvements, communication with the ward residents and his take on bringing development proposals to the organized neighborhood groups.  I think everyone appreciated the depth of knowledge and clear explanations of Mr. O'Connor's vision and overview during his many years in the city council.

Mr. Pawar had the opportunity to update ongoing projects and discuss technical issues straddling the wards including: The Mariano's development (including an L.A. Fitness gym) passed city council committee and will go to full council vote; the shuttered Chicago Ale House space at Leavitt and Lawrence is close to having a new establishment from Ukrainian Village; his explanation on why $4.5 million in TIF was part of the Mariano's deal; how TIF funds work between the 47th and 40th Wards...and much more.  
Alderman O'Connor addresses "what now with the ward transition" (photo Eric Rojas)

The issue of 50 less parking spots for the Ravenswood METRA station was brought up in a question.  Although this was out of the scope of our transition area issues, Mr. Pawar of the 47th Ward did state the economic trade-off for the development was worth losing parking the spots now and no one involved in the development wanted to build a larger parking structure (which is a money loser and would have had to pass community muster).  We invited the attendee with the question to make this an agenda item for one of our meetings in which we can address stakeholders that need parking near the METRA stop.  Mr. O'Connor of the 40th also stated that a Peterson METRA stop is in the works just north and will relieve some of the pressure on the Ravenswood stop.

WPN feels attendees gained information that will help them plan for future progress, understand developments in the ward and they gained insight on political and funding issues of development in general. The meeting put neighbors together with neighbors working on issues concerning schools, parks, business and quality of life in and around Winnemac Park.  The Aldermen and officials were able to meet more active neighbors they can reach out to for real input and action. 

 If you'd like updates concerning Winnemac Park, Chappell School, McPherson School, Budlong School, Amundsen High School, local business chambers, and local neighbor initiatives please sign your email up at or email us direct at with a subject line addressing your area of interest.  There are neighbors taking leadership in many areas!

To speak at a meeting or to suggest speakers please email or call Eric at 773-510-1597