45th Ward Update

As if you needed an extra reason to visit the always-great Independence Park Farmer’s Market, this Sunday, I’ve arraigned for secure paper shredding at the market.

The market is at 3945 N. Springfield and runs from 9 am to 1 pm. Paper shredding with be available from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. I hope to see you there.

FAA Sets New Hearings on O’Hare Modernization Plan

The FAA has scheduled four open houses on the draft re-evaluation of the environment impact statement on the project. This is where you can ask questions, learn more about the modernization plan, and offer your comments on how it has impacted your quality of life so far.

I strongly urge each of you to attend one of these meetings:

  • Monday, Aug. 10, 1-9 pm, at White Eagle Banquets, 6839 N. Milwaukee, Niles;
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11,1-9 pm, at Taft High School, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago;
  • Wednesday, Aug. 12, 1-9 pm, at Monty’s Elegant Banquets, 703 S. York Road, Bensenville; and
  • Thursday, Aug. 13, 1-9 pm, at Belvedere Events and Banquets, 1170 W. Devon, Elk Grove Village.

The meetings will be workshop style with a room for you to ask questions to the FAA and its consultants directly, with presentation boards depicting information contained in the draft re-evaluation.

There also will be a separate room with multiple court reporter stations for you to provide comments on the record after participating in the workshop. Comment forms will also be available for use at the workshops.

You only need to attend one meeting, and you do not need to stay the entire time.

I, along with fellow aldermen, community members, and US Reps. Mike Quigley, Tammy Duckwork and Jan Schakowsky, have advocated for these hearing since it became clear that our communities were not provided a decent chance to learn about the O’Hare Modernization Plan and tell the FAA how it impacts our lives every day.

Now is your chance.

Learn more about the hearings at the FAA’s website. At the website, you can also find information on how to submit comments if you are unable to attend.

Central and Montrose, Central and Berteau Intersections Completely Closed Starting July 20

The Chicago Department of Water Management is replacing sewers under Central from Berteau to Wilson starting July 20. The sewers were originally installed in 1909 and need replacing.

Unfortunately, the work will require the complete closure, in all directions, of the intersections of Central and Montrose, as well as Central and Berteau. Please avoid the area.

Montrose and Central will be closed for about one month, while Berteau and Central will be closed for about two months. The Montrose detour (including the westbound Montrose closure at Lavergne and Montrose) is Cicero to Irving Park to Austin back to Montrose. The Central detour is Irving Park to Austin to Lawrence to back Central.

I understand that this is a major inconvenience to the thousands of people who traverse these intersections daily. However, the upgrade should significantly reduce the potential of major sewer problems and should help prevent flooding. Please be patient as the city works to improve our infrastructure.

Property Tax Assistance in the 45th Ward Office

Staff from Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer’s office will be at my office, 4754 N. Milwauke, on Monday, July 20, to help you with your property tax questions and issues. They will be here from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Please bring your second installment tax bill, and staff will help you review the bill and ensure that it is free from errors and you have all your eligible exemptions.

Improvements Coming to Metra Mayfair Station

Crews this week began work to replace and lengthen platforms at the Mayfair Metra station on the Milwaukee District North Line. Crews will also install two shelters and replace lighting.

The current platforms only accommodate three cars, slowing loading and unloading, and causing some trains to block the nearby UP Northwest Line tracks.

Train service will not be impacted by the work. Thanks for your patience as this work is completed.

Filament Theatre Presents Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Portage Park July 18 and 19

Filament Theatre has put together a unique, interactive play, Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Portage Park. The show happens July 18 and 19, at 10 am and 2 pm.

When three city council members are kidnapped from an important meeting, the audience must help Sherlock Holmes crack the case. Audience members will travel by foot or on bicycle throughout Portage Park, including through my office, interviewing witnesses and finding clues to recover the kidnapped city council members.

This is a unique and intriguing performance intended for those 8 and older. Space is very limited. Tickets are $20, $14 for children 8-14 who are walking. Find more information and tickets at the Filament website.

I hope to see you as we work to crack the case.

Kostner Underpass Clean Up July 18

I hope you’ll join neighbors and me on Saturday, July 18, as we work to clean up under and around the Kostner underpass at the Kennedy. There will be sweeping, painting, and weeding.

We’ll provide the tools; just bring yourself and a pair of gloves, if you have them. We’ll get started around 9 am.

For more information, email clean-up organizers. Hope to see you there.

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks Returns to Wilson Park July 31 and Aug. 1

For the third consecutive year, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater will bring their fine talents to Wilson Park, 4630 N. Milwaukee, for two performances.

This year, instead of presenting a play, the company will perform a selection of Shakespeare’s greatest scenes. The performances will start at 6:30 pm Friday, July 31, and Saturday, August 1, and are free.

Find more information at the Shakespeare in the Park website. I hope to see you at the performance.

Minimum Wage in Chicago Increased July 1

On July 1, the minimum wage in Chicago increased to $10 an hour, $5.45 for tipped employees like restaurant servers.

The wage applies to employers who maintain a business within the city and employees who work two hours in the city within a period of two weeks. This includes domestic employees and home health care workers.

It does not apply to employees taking part in government-subsidized temporary youth employment programs; employees taking part in government-subsidized transitional employment program; employees of any governmental other than the city; and certain employees exempted under state law.

Employers that violate the Minimum Wage Ordinance will be fined $500 to $1,000 for each offense. Each day that a violation continues constitutes a separate offense to which a separate fine shall apply.

Find a copy of the full ordinance at the city’s website. Suspected violations can be reported to 311 or my office.

Host an International Youth this Summer

WorldChicago is looking for volunteer host families for international high school students and mentors coming to Chicago as part of a U.S. State Department exchange program this summer.

This is a unique opportunity to learn about cultures from around the world, and to share a little of our own culture and hospitality. Participants are ages 15-18, proficient in English unless otherwise noted, and selected for these prestigious programs through a competitive, merit-based application.

Home hosts provide guests with a bed, breakfast, and most dinners. Youth participate in program activities weekdays from about 9 am to 5 pm, with evenings and weekends free to spend with you. Families are invited to enjoy program celebrations and other fun activities. Host siblings are also invited to join in program activities as space allows.

The programs, ranging from 8 to 14 days, focus on civic engagement, leadership, diversity, and community service, with sub-themes such as youth entrepreneurship, the environment, and interfaith dialogue.

Opportunities include:

• August 8–22: Japan-South Korea Youth Leadership Program — Seeking hosts for 8 students & 2 mentors
• August 13–21: Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program with Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, and Togo (French-speaking) — Seeking hosts with at least one French speaker at home for 16 students & 4 mentors

Host a student for a week and make a friend for life. Sign up today.

Learn more about WorldChicago’s Youth Leadership Programs at their website.
For additional questions, contact Maria Krasinski via email or at (312) 254-1800, ext.102.

2015-16 Residential Truck Parking Stickers Available

For those of you with pick-up trucks that you park on residential streets, we now have the 2015-16 Residential Truck Parking Stickers. The 2014-15 stickers expired June 30.

Under city ordinance, it is illegal to park any pick-up truck, cargo van, commercial vehicle, or livery vehicle on a residential street except for the loading and unloading of the vehicle. It is a $75 ticket.

However, for those of you who have a pick-up truck that is for personal use, we have a sticker that allows you to park in front of your home.

Please note that we will not issue the sticker for cargo vans, commercial vehicles, livery vehicles, or pick-up trucks that appear to be for commercial use (with ladder racks or other accoutrements typically associated with a commercial use). If you own a cargo van or commercial vehicle, you must find an off-street location to park the vehicle.

To get the sticker, you must bring the truck to our office. You also must have an up-to-date city sticker, and you must be a 45th Ward resident. For more information, email my office.

Body & Blood at Gift Theatre

Performances started this week at the Gift Theatre of the world premiere of Body & Blood, a new play by acclaimed playwright and Gift Theatre ensemble member William Nedved. The Chicago Tribune gives the play 3 stars.

The play focuses on the tumult caused by a man’s decision to enter seminary and pursue a career as a priest. The decision is not well received by his Jewish girlfriend, his family, and his priest.

Find performance times, and tickets, at the Gift Theatre website. The play runs through Aug. 9.

Westbound Montrose Closed West of Cicero

City crews have closed westbound Montrose at Cicero for sewer construction. Eastbound Montrose will remain open.

Although residents will still be able to access homes east of Lavergne, through traffic will be strictly prohibited. The closure is scheduled to end Sept. 1.

Drivers will be detoured south on Cicero, then north on Milwaukee. Westbound Montrose buses will head south on Cicero, west of Irving Park, and north on Laramie back to Montrose.

Drivers who can should avoid the area.

The closure is needed for a project to connect local sewers with the Deep Tunnel flood prevention system. The closure will allow the Department of Water Management to complete the southern end of a feeder tunnel 65 feet under Lavergne. The northern end of the tunnel, at Lawrence, connects to Deep Tunnel.

The work should significantly reduce basement flooding the surrounding area. Thanks for your patience as crews perform this important work.

Thanks for reading.

John Arena

 

 

I want to welcome another new business to our community. ImmediateMD has opened their new immediate care facility at 5228 N. Northwest Highway, in the old Gladstone Plaza strip mall.

The business is the first of what we expect will be several new businesses to move into the old plaza, which was vacant and derelict for more than a decade.

Join me in welcoming this business to our community.

Community Clean-Up May 17

Anyone who walks along Pulaski under the Kennedy, and along the sidewalk between Pulaski and Byron on the east side of the expressway, knows that trash, bird droppings, and other debris often accumulate in the area.

The Girls Scouts of Troop 21326 plan to clean from Independence Park, through the pathway and under the viaduct, and they’re working local artist Tony Passero to clean the mural there. They also plan to plant flowers or shrubbery.

My office is providing brooms, shovels, rakes, garbage bags, and other supplies. Volunteer meeting location will be at the south west corner of Independence Park, near the baseball field.

The clean-up will be Sunday, May 17, from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.To volunteer, or to ask for more information, contact troop leaders Linda Graziano at 312-203-1303 or Cynthia Rivera at 773-517-5506. Please come out and help the Girl Scouts beautify our community.

Meeting for the Proposed Jefferson Park Special Service Area

Join the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce to discuss the proposed creation of the Jefferson Park Special Service Area.

The second and final meeting will be at the Copernicus Center Kings Hall (3rd floor), 5212 W. Lawrence, at 6:30 pm Thursday, May 21.

A Special Service Area is an additional property tax levy on properties in the SSA district. The Jefferson Park SSA would work to improve the viability, success and prosperity of those who have made an investment in Jefferson Park.

The SSA would be on Lawrence from the Kennedy to Austin, and on Milwaukee from Montrose to the Kennedy.

Together with businesses and residents, the SSA’s priorities are to provide valued services that enhance the district for property owners, business owners, residents and visitors.

The proposed services include marketing and promotion, litter and snow removal, tenant attraction and retention, landscaping and customer attraction programs.

A volunteer commission of SSA taxpayers would oversee the funding of such services and meetings of the SSA are open to the public. The city Department of Planning and Development oversees SSAs.

There are 53 SSAs in Chicago; they can be found at Six Corners, Lakeview, Wicker Park/Bucktown, NorthCenter, Andersonville, West Town and the Loop, in addition to many other areas of the city. See the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce’s website.

Milwaukee Resurfacing Project Starting

The Chicago Department of Transportation is beginning work on Milwaukee from the Kennedy Expressway to Elston. Right now, CDOT contractors are working on upgrading crosswalk concrete. They will also replace curbs where needed.

Street resurfacing is expected to start in several weeks. The resurfacing will require the closure of the Milwaukee viaduct under the UP Northwest railroad. Watch this space for more information as it becomes available.

Work is tentatively to be finished in mid-August, weather permitting.

Thanks for your patience as we work to repave this major thoroughfare.

Westbound Montrose Closed West of Cicero

City crews have closed westbound Montrose at Cicero for sewer work. Eastbound Montrose remains open.

Although residents will still be able to access homes east of Lavergne, through traffic will be strictly prohibited.

The closure is scheduled to end Sept. 1.

Drivers will be detoured south on Cicero, then north on Milwaukee. Westbound Montrose buses will head south on Cicero, west of Irving Park, and north on Laramie back to Montrose.

Drivers who can should avoid the area.

The closure is needed for a project to connect local sewers with the Deep Tunnel flood prevention system. The closure will allow the Department of Water Management to complete the southern end of a feeder tunnel 65 feet under Lavergne. The northern end of the tunnel, at Lawrence, connects to Deep Tunnel.

The work should significantly reduce basement flooding the surrounding area. Thanks for your patience as crews perform this important work.

Lifeboat at Filament Runs Through May 24

Filament Theatre has revived their critically acclaimed production of Lifeboat, with performances through May 24.

Lifeboat tells the true story of Bess Walder and Beth Cummings, two 15-year-old girls who were among 90 evacuees from Britain during World War II. Their ship was torpedoed and they clung to an overturned lifeboat for 19 hours.

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm. Find more information and tickets at the Filament website.

Zipcar comes to 6 Corners

Our transportation options keep growing here in the 45th Ward. Last week, our community received its first Divvy bike stations. Now, a Zipcar car sharing station has been installed in the city parking lot on LaPorte just north of Irving Park Road.

Zipcar allows members to share cars throughout the network. Prices include gas and insurance. Learn more at the Zipcar website.

Royal Society of Antarctica at Gift Theatre Extended through May 24

The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee, has extended the run of its world première play, The Royal Society of Antarctica, through May 24.

The play focuses on Dee as she returns to her birthplace at the blindingly bright McMurdo Station in Antarctica. There, she works as a janitor and seeks answers to her mother’s disappearance in this wonderfully weird and touching new play.

The Chicago Tribune calls the play “really impressive.” It is certainly worth your time.

Tickets are $35, $20 on Sunday matinees. Shows are on Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2:30 pm. Find more information and tickets at the Gift Theatre website.

Thanks for reading.

 

This week, we welcomed our first two Divvy bike sharing stations to the 45th Ward. The stations are at Monticello and Irving Park, as well as Keeler and Irving Park.

We’re looking forward to having stations installed around Schurz High School, Six Corners, Jefferson Park, and other areas of the ward in the coming months and years.

I hope you can join me in using this fun, healthy, and innovative way to get around our city.

Meetings for the Proposed Jefferson Park Special Service Area

Join the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce to discuss the proposed creation of the Jefferson Park Special Service Area.

The first meeting will be at 6:30 pm Thursday, May 14, at the Copernicus Center Kings Hall (3rd floor), 5212 W. Lawrence. The second meeting will be in the same location at 6:30 pm Thursday, May 21.

A Special Service Area is an additional property tax levy on properties in the SSA district. The Jefferson Park SSA would work to improve the viability, success and prosperity of those who have made an investment in Jefferson Park.

The SSA would be on Lawrence from the Kennedy to Austin, and on Milwaukee from Montrose to the Kennedy.

Together with businesses and residents, the SSA’s priorities are to provide valued services that enhance the district for property owners, business owners, residents and visitors.

The proposed services include marketing and promotion, litter and snow removal, tenant attraction and retention, landscaping and customer attraction programs.

A volunteer commission of SSA taxpayers would oversee the funding of such services and meetings of the SSA are open to the public. The city Department of Planning and Development oversees SSAs.

There are 53 SSAs in Chicago; they can be found at Six Corners, Lakeview, Wicker Park/Bucktown, NorthCenter, Andersonville, West Town and the Loop, in addition to many other areas of the city. See the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce’s website.

PB45 – The 2015 Results Are In

Last week, 447 people voted in our participatory budgeting process, deciding on what projects would be funded through the Neighborhood Capital Infrastructure Program, also known as aldermanic menu money. Voting ended at 3 pm today.

Voters decided that 54.7% of the $1 million should go toward street resurfacing throughout the ward. That leaves $453,000 for projects selected by voters.

Each voter selected up to four projects. The results are:

  1. Bike lanes on Milwaukee from Lawrence to Addison, 203 votes;
  2. Lighting and pedestrian improvements under the Kennedy at Pulaski and on the sidewalk next to the Kennedy from Pulaski and Dakin to Byron and Parkside, 200 votes; and 
  3. People spots at Six Corners, around Lawrence and Milwaukee, and around Lawrence and Austin, 171 votes;
  4. Pedestrian bump-outs at Milwaukee and Cuyler, Milwaukee and Warner, Milwaukee and Giddings, Central and Balmoral, and Central and Leland, 168 votes;
  5. Pedestrian refuge island on Cicero at Pensacola, 163 votes;
  6. A turf field at Disney II Elementary, 154 votes;
  7. A new playground at Farnsworth Elementary, 152 votes;
  8. A storage shed for the community garden at Laramie and Ainslie, 142 votes; and
  9. Pedestrian refuge island on Lawrence at Lavergne, 131 votes.

The top 7 projects will be funded, in addition to the street allocation approved by voters.

Thank you to everyone who attended a meeting and came out to vote. I also want to give a special thanks to the UIC Great Cities Institute, Blocks Together Chicago, and PB Chicago, without whom we would not be able to run this process.

Keep an eye on this space for details on our neighborhood assemblies in the fall, where we will start taking ideas for the 2016 PB45 budget.

Community Clean-Up May 17

Anyone who walks along Pulaski under the Kennedy, and along the sidewalk between Pulaski and Byron on the east side of the expressway, knows that trash, bird droppings, and other debris often accumulate in the area.

The Girls Scouts of Troop 21326 plan to clean from Independence Park, through the pathway and under the viaduct, and they’re working local artist Tony Passero to clean the mural there. They also plan to plant flowers or shrubbery.

My office is providing brooms, shovels, rakes, garbage bags, and other supplies. Volunteer meeting location will be at the south west corner of Independence Park, near the baseball field.

The clean-up will be Sunday, May 17, from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm.To volunteer, or to ask for more information, contact troop leaders Linda Graziano at 312-203-1303 or Cynthia Rivera at 773-517-5506. Please come out and help the Girl Scouts beautify our community.

Westbound Montrose Closed West of Cicero

City crews have closed westbound Montrose at Cicero for sewer work. Eastbound Montrose remains open.

Although residents will still be able to access homes east of Lavergne, through traffic will be strictly prohibited.

The closure is scheduled to end Sept. 1.

Drivers will be detoured south on Cicero, then north on Milwaukee. Westbound Montrose buses will head south on Cicero, west of Irving Park, and north on Laramie back to Montrose.

Drivers who can should avoid the area.

The closure is needed for a project to connect local sewers with the Deep Tunnel flood prevention system. The closure will allow the Department of Water Management to complete the southern end of a feeder tunnel 65 feet under Lavergne. The northern end of the tunnel, at Lawrence, connects to Deep Tunnel.

The work should significantly reduce basement flooding the surrounding area. Thanks for your patience as crews perform this important work.

St. Tarcissus School Raffle

St. Tarcissus School is raffling off hockey jerseys autographed by Chicago Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews or 1980 U.S. Olympic defenseman Jack O’Callahan. The two winners will be chosen at the sixth annual “A Night at the Races” fundraiser on May 9th at the school. Winners need not to attend to win.

Tickets are $10 each or three for $20 and are available at either the school or the rectory office, 6040 W. Ardmore. Tickets can also be sent to you electronically by emailing the school. Good luck.

 

Water Main Projects on Lawrence, Central

The Department of Water Management in April plans to replace water mains on two major streets in our community. The old water mains are more than 120 years old.

On Lawrence, they have completed much of the water main work between Central and Laramie. Some more work, and restoration, remain.

On Central, Water Management is replacing the water main between Elston and Milwaukee, as well as the main on Milwaukee between Central and Foster.

With the exception of on Milwaukee, the work will require some lane closures during working hours, 7 am to 4 pm, but all lanes should be open other times. Still, you might want to avoid the work area and find alternative routes. No detours are planned at this point, but we anticipate delays.

On Milwaukee between Foster and Central, much of the work will be confined to overnight hours.

Work should be completed in June, weather permitting. Please drive carefully around workers.

On side streets, Water Management also plans to replace mains this spring on Linder between Lawrence and Higgins; Kildare between Waveland and Irving Park; Grace between Kostner and Kedvale; Waveland between Lowell and Kildare; Lovejoy from Catalpa to Central; and Cullom from Cicero to Laramie.

All the streets will be repaved once the work is completed.

 

Royal Society of Antarctica at Gift Theatre Extended through May 24

The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee, has extended the run of its world première play, The Royal Society of Antarctica, through May 24.

The play focuses on Dee as she returns to her birthplace at the blindingly bright McMurdo Station in Antarctica. There, she works as a janitor and seeks answers to her mother’s disappearance in this wonderfully weird and touching new play.

The Chicago Tribune calls the play “really impressive.” It is certainly worth your time.

Tickets are $35, $20 on Sunday matinees. Shows are on Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2:30 pm. Find more information and tickets at the Gift Theatre website.

Sunday Night Bingo

Looking for a reason to get out on Sunday nights? Head over to St. Bartholomew Krueger Hall, 4910 W. Addison, for Sunday Night Bingo.

Doors open at 5 pm, and games start at 7 pm. Light dinner and refreshments are available. For more information, call Bob Ruffing at (773) 213-4310.

Thanks for reading.

John Arena

 

 

I want to take a moment and wish you and your family a joyous Easter.

If you are leaving town for Spring Break, don’t forget to vote early before hitting the road. Details on how are below.

Last Chance to Vote Early

More than 3,500 people have voted early in the April municipal run-off election in the 45th Ward. Don’t be left behind. With Election Day in the middle of Spring Break, it is more important that ever that you vote early. Early voting is open thorough Saturday, April 4.

You can vote in the run-off election even if you did not vote in the February election. Vote early in the April run-off at any one of 51 early voting sites.

Early voting locations include:

  • 16th District Police Headquarters, 5151 N. Milwaukee;
  • Roden Library, 6083 N. Northwest Hwy; 
  • North Park Village Administration Building, 5801 N. Pulaski; 
  • Independence Library, 3548 W. Irving Park; 
  • Kilbourn Park, 3501 N. Kilbourn; and the 
  • Chicago Board of Elections, 69 W. Washington, Lower Level Conference Room. 

Those locations are open Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm.

All 51 early voting sites will also be open for Grace Period registration. That means you can register to vote, and vote, at any one of 51 early voting sites in Chicago. However, you can only do so during early voting.

Find the complete list of early voting sites, along with site-specific special hours, at the Chicago Board of Elections website.

 

PB45 2015 Project Expos Start April 11, Voting April 27-May 2

As you may recall, for the last two years, I have used a participatory budgeting process to allocate $1 million of local infrastructure funds, also known as the Aldermanic Menu. In past years, voters approved funding for pigeon abatement in viaducts, a new turf field at Beaubien School, a new playground at Independence Park, the planting of 450 trees, and several other projects, in addition to extensive street resurfacing.

We’re continuing with the process this year. In the fall, residents offered their ideas. Now come learn how we have turned many of those ideas into projects for the 2015 ballot.

I am hosting three project expos where you can learn more about what is on the ballot. Those expos will be:

Saturday, April 11, 10 am-noon
Jefferson Park Library
5363 W. Lawrence

 

Tuesday, April 14, 6-8 pm
Disney II Magnet School (Lawndale Campus)
3900 N. Lawndale

Wednesday, April 15, 6:30-8:30 pm
Farnsworth School
5414 N. Linder

This year, projects include:

  • Bike lanes on Milwaukee from Lawrence to Addison;
  • School Campus improvements at Farnsworth, Hitch, and Disney II Elementary;
  • A storage shed for the community garden at Laramie and Ainslie;
  • Pedestrian bump-outs at Milwaukee and Cuyler, Milwaukee and Warner, Milwaukee and Giddings, Central and Balmoral, and Central and Leland;
  • Pedestrian refuge islands on Cicero at Pensacola and on Lawrence at Lavergne;
  • Lighting and pedestrian improvements under the Kennedy at Pulaski and the sidewalk next to the Kennedy from Pulaski and Dakin to Byron and Parkside; and 
  • People spots at Six Corners, around Lawrence and Milwaukee, and around Lawrence and Austin.

Additionally, voters will again select a percentage of the $1 million to go toward street resurfacing. You can learn more about potential street projects during the expos.

Voting will be from 10 am to 2 pm Saturday, May 2, at the Wilson Park Field House, 4630 N. Milwaukee. You can also vote early at my office, 4754 N. Milwaukee, during the week of April 27-May 1, between 8 am and 6 pm.

Learn about the projects, then make your voice heard by voting. For more information, email my office.

 

 

Water Main Projects on Lawrence, Central

The Department of Water Management in April plans to replace water mains on two major streets in our community. The old water mains are more than 120 years old.

On Lawrence, they will replace the water main between Central and Laramie. On Central, Water Management is replacing the water main between Elston and Milwaukee, as well as the main on Milwaukee between Central and Foster.

The work will require some lane closures during working hours, 7 am to 4 pm, but all lanes should be open other times. Still, you might want to avoid the work area and find alternative routes. No detours are planned at this point, but we anticipate delays.

Work should be completed in June, weather permitting. Please drive carefully around workers.

On side streets, Water Management also plans to replace mains this spring on Linder between Lawrence and Higgins; Kildare between Waveland and Irving Park; Grace between Kostner and Kedvale; Waveland between Lowell and Kildare; and Lovejoy from Catalpa to Central.

All the streets will be repaved once the work is completed.

 

Central Repaving Project Ongoing

The Chicago Department of Transportation is in the early stage of a project to repave Central between Montrose and Higgins.

The work will include sidewalk ramp improvements, curb and gutter removal and replacement, bus pad construction, milling and paving the existing asphalt pavement, and striping. The curb and gutter and sidewalk work will take place first, followed by the milling and paving of the roadway, and then followed by the bus pad construction.

During construction, No Parking signs will be periodically posted as needed for the work. Work is tentatively scheduled to be completed by May 13, weather permitting.

Please watch for construction crews and drive carefully during the work.

 

Royal Society of Antarctica at Gift Theatre through April 26

The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee, is staging the première of a new play, The Royal Society of Antarctica, through April 26.

The play focuses on Dee as she returns to her birthplace at the blindingly bright McMurdo Station in Antarctica. There, she works as a janitor and seeks answers to her mother’s disappearance in this wonderfully weird and touching new play.

The Chicago Tribune calls the play “really impressive.” It is certainly worth your time.

Tickets are $35, $20 on Sunday matinees. Shows are on Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2:30 pm. Find more information and tickets at the Gift Theatre website.

Midwinter Night’s Tale Runs in Filament Space through April 12

Duplicity Ensemble, an itinerant theater company, is offering area residents half-price admission to their new show, A Midwinter Night’s Tale.

Inspired by last year’s relentless Chicago winter, Duplicity Ensemble combines two of Shakespeare’s greatest plays to create the ultimate antidote for cabin fever at Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee.

When four young lovers chance upon into a quiet mountain cabin while looking for shelter from a snowstorm, life is turned upside-down as hearts get broken, muffins get eaten, and a play is read in this modern comic mash-up of The Winter’s Tale and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Tickets are normally $20, $15 for students. However, enter the discount code PORTAGE, and get tickets for $10 each. For more information and tickets, log onto the Duplicity Ensemble website.

Thanks for reading.

John Arena

 

 

 

The Chicago Department of Transportation has launched a city-wide online survey asking what residents appreciate about their streets and sidewalks, and what improvements they would like to see. The survey will help CDOT create guidelines for future improvements.

The survey can be taken online at the CDOT survey website.

Also, remember that daylight savings time starts at 2 am Sunday. Please set your clocks forward one hour.

 

New Playground Coming to Ashmore Playlot

I am pleased to announce that Ashmore Playlot, 4807 W. Gunnison, will receive new playground equipment summer.

Ashmore is a small playlot just west of Cicero. In the Spring of 2013, volunteers from my office and Arts Alive Chicagocleaned the playlot and painted equipment as part of the unveiling of the Hep Cat mural on Cicero just north of Lawrence. Although the cleaning and coat of paint improved the park, it still needs new equipment.

Once completed, Ashmore will be one of six parks or schools with new equipment installed in the last three years. The others are Robert Square ParkGrace Zwiefka Thuis ParkKolmar PlaylotIndependence Park, on which construction starts this Spring; and Beubien Elementary School.

I look forward toward working with all of you to bring new playground equipment to every park and school in the 45th Ward.

 

 

Potential Fitness, Grocery, Starbuck’s at 4901 W. Irving Park

Please join your neighbors for a community discussion of a proposed redevelopment of 4901 W. Irving Park. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, at 6:30 pm, in the Las Tablas banquet space at 4920 W. Irving Park.

The owners of the site are offering a plan to renovate the existing 50,000-square-foot building to accommodate several new businesses, and the theater on the second floor would be renovated for community and non-profit use.

So far, owners have a signed lease for a Retro Fitness at the site. Additionally, owners have letters of intent from and are working on finalized leases with Starbucks and Aldi’s. There are also discussions with a Culvers franchisee.

The renovated building will also have 14,000 square feet of additional retail space and 12,000 square feet of office space which is being marketed for medical and non-profit uses.

In order to preserve the theater for community and non-profit use, the owners are requesting $2.5 million in TIF assistance. Additionally, the owners need a zoning change from RS-3 to B1-1 for the parking lot behind the building.

This proposed project falls into the mission of the Six Corners Master Plan. The plan is driven by input from residents, businesses, and land owners, and was adopted by the Chicago Plan Commission in August 2013.

To learn more, ask questions, and join the discussion, please come to the community meeting. If you have any other questions, give my office a call at (773) 286-4545.

 

Early Voting Opens March 23

As many of you know, there will be a run-off election for mayor and for alderman in 19 wards, including here in the 45th Ward.

You can vote in the run-off election, even if you did not vote in the February election. You can also register to vote, or change your voter registration, online through March 10. Do so at the Chicago Board of Elections website.

You can vote early in the April run-off at any one of 51 early voting sites starting Monday, March 23.

Early voting locations include:

  • 16th District Police Headquarters, 5151 N. Milwaukee;
  • Roden Library, 6083 N. Northwest Hwy; 
  • North Park Village Administration Building, 5801 N. Pulaski; 
  • Independence Library, 3548 W. Irving Park; 
  • Kilbourn Park, 3501 N. Kilbourn; and the 
  • Chicago Board of Elections, 69 W. Washington, Lower Level Conference Room. 

Those locations are open Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm, through April 4.

Additionally, the Board of Elections site and the Welles Park early voting site, 2333 W. Sunnyside, will be open for early voting Sunday, March 29, 9 am to 3 pm.

All 51 early voting sites will also be open for Grace Period registration. That means you can register to vote, and vote, at any one of 51 early voting sites in Chicago. However, you can only do so during early voting.

Find the complete list of early voting sites, along with site-specific special hours, at the Chicago Board of Elections website.

St. Viator Dream Machine Recycling Rally

St. Viator School is collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles for The Dream Machine Recycle Rally, The rally gives schools a chance to earn rewards and compete for contest prizes.

You can help St. Viator by bringing your non-alcoholic aluminum cans and clear plastic bottles (marked with “#1 PETE” on the bottom – no milk gallons) to St. Viator School, 4140 W. Addison, on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month.

Drop off is located off the parking lot between the school and playground. If you have a business and would like to donate your non-alcoholic plastic and aluminum beverage recyclables, the school can arrange a pick up.

To find out more about how you can help the school reach its goal, please contact Cindy Santos at (773) 833-4871 or Heather Santillan (312) 593-4189.

James and the Giant Peach at Filament Theatre Through March 15

A stage adaptation of James and the Giant Peachcomes to Filament Theatre through March 15. The story is about a young orphan boy who enters a gigantic, magical peach, and has a wild and surreal cross-world adventure with six magically-altered garden bugs.

Tickets are on sale now via the the Filament website. Tickets for the rest of the run are $14-$20. Find more information at the Filament website.

Thanks for reading.

John Arena

 

 

 

It has been almost 2 weeks since more than 19 inches of snow fell on our city. Please help clean up the neighborhood.

It is time to collect your belongings from the public way, or Department of Streets and Sanitation will collect them for you starting early Friday.

Please note, my office will be closed Thursday, Feb. 12, for Lincoln’s Birthday and Monday, Feb. 16, for Presidents Day.

 

Early Voting Open Now

You can vote early in the February municipal election at any one of 51 early voting sites. Offices up for election include mayor, city clerk, city treasurer, and all 50 aldermen.

The 45th Ward site is at the 16th District Police Headquarters, 5151 N. Milwaukee. Other locations that might be convenient include: Roden Library, 6083 N. Northwest Hwy; North Park Village Administration Building, 5801 N. Pulaski; Independence Library, 3548 W. Irving Park; Kilbourn Park, 3501 N. Kilbourn; and the Chicago Board of Elections, 69 W. Washington, Lower Level Conference Room.

Those locations are open Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm, through Feb. 21.

The Board of Elections and Welles Park (2333 W. Sunnyside) locations will also be open Sunday, Feb. 15, from 9 am to 3 pm.

If you forgot to register to vote, you can still do so.All 51 early voting sites will also be open for Grace Period registration. That means you can register to vote, and vote, at any one of 51 early voting sites in Chicago.

Find the complete list of early voting sites, along with site-specific special hours, at the Chicago Board of Elections website.

If you are not sure you are registered to vote, or need to find your polling place for Election Day Feb. 24, go to the Board of Election’s voter information webpage.

Protect Your Property Deed

According to the FBI, property fraud is the fastest-growing type of white-collar crime. Because county recorders of deeds are not authorized to verify the legal veracity of documents filed with them, unscrupulous people record forged documents to make it appear that they own property when they do not. The criminals may then occupy, take mortgages against, or rent out those properties.

You can protect yourself against such illegitimate claims by signing up for the Cook County Recorder of Deeds free property-fraud alert program online or via phone at (800) 728-3858.

After you sign up, if someone tries to attach any documents to your property deed, whether legitimate or fraudulent, you’ll receive a notification from the recorder’s office via e-mail or phone. You’ll be able to immediately address suspicious activities before any harm is done.

It only takes a few minutes to sign up and protect yourself from unscrupulous fraudsters, so sign up today.

 

Improvements Coming to Jefferson Park Transit Center

 

Funding will be in place this spring for major renovations to the Jefferson Park Transit Center, 4917 N. Milwaukee.

The CTA plans to spend $25 million on upgrades and updates to the station, which serves more than 2 million riders a year on the Blue Line, UP Northwest Metra line, and a dozen CTA and Pace bus routes. About $5 million of the funding will come from local Tax Increment Financing districts.

Plans have not been fully developed. I look forward to working with CTA and Chicago Department of Transportation on a community driven process to guild this important transit investment.

The station was built in 1970 and served as the terminal of the Blue Line until the extension was built to O’Hare. Improvements are expected to include replacing canopies and walls, replacing lighting with energy efficient lighting, replacing stairs and escalators, and installing art to make the station more welcoming.

The CTA has not scheduled the start of construction. Watch this space for updates as we learn of them. 

 

Property Tax Exemption Applications Now Available

The Cook County Assessor’s Office has released property tax exemption applications for the 2014 tax year (tax bills payable in 2015), including the Homeowner Exemption, Senior Exemption, and Senior Assessment Freeze. The Long-Time Occupant Exemption Application should be released in February.

Remember that senior citizen homeowners must complete their senior exemption forms every year. Exemption applications are available the website of Cook County Commissioner Bridget GainerIf you need assistance, contact Commissioner Gainer’s Office at (312) 603-4210 of via email.

St. Viator Dream Machine Recycling Rally

St. Viator School is collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles for The Dream Machine Recycle Rally, The rally gives schools a chance to earn rewards and compete for contest prizes.

You can help St. Viator by bringing your non-alcoholic aluminum cans and clear plastic bottles (marked with “#1 PETE” on the bottom – no milk gallons) to St. Viator School, 4140 W. Addison, on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month.

Drop off is located off the parking lot between the school and playground. If you have a business and would like to donate your non-alcoholic plastic and aluminum beverage recyclables, the school can arrange a pick up.

To find out more about how you can help the school reach its goal, please contact Cindy Santos at (773) 833-4871 or Heather Santillan (312) 593-4189.

Nominate Women Leaders for 2015 Unsung Heroine Award

In recognition of Women’s History Month, the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues will be sponsoring a breakfast on March 5, at which 20 women will be recognized as the county’s Unsung Heroines.

The selection of these heroines is being made on a district basis so as to ensure that women from each area of the County will be recognized for their contributions to their communities.

Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer is seeking nominees who live within the 10th District, which includes the 45th Ward. Nominees should be women who, either in a professional or volunteer capacity, have made significant contributions to the well-being of our community.

For more information, please call (312) 603-4210or email Commissioner Gainer’s office. Nomination forms also can be downloaded from Commissioner Gainer’s website.

James and the Giant Peach at Filament Theatre Through March 15

A stage adaptation of James and the Giant Peachcomes to Filament Theatre through March 15. The story is about a young orphan boy who enters a gigantic, magical peach, and has a wild and surreal cross-world adventure with six magically-altered garden bugs.

Tickets are on sale now via the the Filament website. Tickets for the rest of the run are $14-$20. Find more information at the Filament website.

Thanks for reading.

John Arena