Friday, September 30, 2005

I almost forgot, it's my birthday today! Just thought I'd let you know as I am the kind of person who needs constant attention.

And presents.
Can anyone tell me what effect zoning has on how a building is used? I am curious to know how it is that many grand old homes are being used as offices and business space. Shouldn't they be zoned as residential? I think it is important to attract more families to the area but by having many of the area's most desirable properties occupied by businesses could hinder that. Please educate me.
Good Morning,

I received a voice mail message from Wayne at Alderman Moore's office today. He told me the following:
  • He walked past the van and that he agreed that it should be removed.
  • He called the owner of 7450 N Greenview and they also agreed it should be removed.
  • The owner claims that they are donating the vehicle to charity and it will be removed in 2-3 weeks
  • Wayne indicated that I should contact him if it is still there after that time period has elapsed.

Hopefully, the owner follows through and has it removed. It is on private property so the city cannot simply remove it but we can continue to put pressure on the owner to have it removed.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

A note sent to the ward 49 office today:

Good Morning,

First, let me thank you for your efforts regarding issues you addressed with Arbour Health care. I have noted that many of the issues seem to have been resolved. It is very encouraging. However, you may soon tire of hearing from me now that I have found this resource.

Another issue that I am concerned with is a van that seems to be abandoned or at least being left to rot in the driveway of the building on the northwest corner of Fargo and Greenview. Aside from being an eyesore, I fear it will become a breeding ground for all manner of vermin. It has been there sitting on flat tires since at least April and probably much longer. I don't know who owns it but I would think that the building owner would be responsible for it. I know the building is for sale and can't imagine why they would keep such blight on the property.

Please let me know what action can be taken. Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.



Wednesday, September 28, 2005

There have been a lot of people discussing a new proposal to build what will essentially be a marina "near Loyola" to be called Edgewater Harbor as well as other locations throughout the city to accomodate a desire for more boat slips. Apparently,they are very profitable for the park district. Details seem very hard to get. There was a posting on detailing events at a meeting held on the south side last night.

Although I greatly appreciate that the blogger at this website goes to meetings regularly and reports back with news, I am afraid that he is often moreconcerned with bashing the alderman than communicationg accurate information. According to a person who spoke with a park district official, Joe Moore was made aware that the park district was planning to discuss a marina among other projects but did not work with the park district to develop said plans. The plan is still in its infancy and will probably take a few years to even begin.

I know that not everyone has had the same experience that I have, but I have actually gotten the ward to take care of a few problems for me involving problems with a mismanaged nursing home (read loony bin) that neighbors my building. I think that by acting in a calm, rational manner and asking direct questions while letting them know you plan to document everything (If they call me to tell me what they are going to do, I don't answer and I save the voicemail) you get more results than inflammatory comments. To play devil's advocate for a second, I don't generally believe that the alderman has been malevolent but perhaps simply ineffective in some cases. I think that perhaps he may have an agenda that does not always click with the wants and needs of the community. That said, go ahead and slam me. I can take it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I have noticed a great deal of activity at the Gateway Center over the past few days in the southwest area that faces the bus terminal. Does anyone have any ideas as to what is going in?
I have learned that there is a movement to save the Adelphi theater property from being developed. I would like to see this building (at least it's facade) kept intact because I think if it is properly restored it would be a lovely building. However, are we fighting the development here to simply keep the building as is or is there some viable alternative? Is there funding to restore and improve the building to make it a viable business again? I wouldn't want it saved just so it can sit vacant for ten more years like the Uptown only to have millions of dollars spent on keeping it standing without having come up with a use for the space. When it comes to these kinds of projects, many people's hearts get wrapped up in nostalgia. I understand that, but can we get this building swimming again or are we just keeping it from drowning?

Friday, September 23, 2005

It has recently come to my attention that one of the biggest points of contention among those folks who attend neighborhood planning meetings is that many of the long term residents of the neighborhood who own single family homes or those who were some of the first to buy condos up here is that they are concerned that the neighborhood will become overdeveloped - driving up taxes, creating a lack of affordable housing, or conversely creating a glut of affordable housing that will sit empty, etc...

Many of these arguments to slow the progress of development may be valid, but my worry is this: In a neighborhood that has been "The Next Big Thing" year after year, only to see development fall far short of projections, maybe these people are impeding the process for the wrong reasons. Maybe they don't want the population to increase because they don't want to share the parks, beaches, and parking. Maybe they they are worried their property taxes will go up. Maybe, they don't want to look at a new building filled with condo units that middle class families can actually afford to buy. I am not saying that these aren't legitimate beefs. I just want people to be honest about it.

People can be greedy and selfish sometimes, myself included. I'm not proud of it but I am not going to compound my flaws by lying and hiding behind a facade of being the social conscience of the neighborhood. If I drove, (and I know many perople up here that do) I'd probably complain about parking too. If I had a single family home with a yard, I'd probably be upset if someone built a huge development right next door. My property value might go up and I might have to pay more in taxes. It sucks. But let's face it, it's happening everywhere.

I lived in Lincoln Square for several years and when I went to buy of course I wanted to buy in the neighborhood I already called home. Problem was, once I got married and started looking, I was priced out! So we searched and searched and searched and finally found a nice place on a nice street up here that we could afford. When I see other buildings being converted and hear people complaining about gentrification and development, I am torn. I was priced out of my neighborhood and here I am doing the same thing to folks even less fortunate than myself. It makes me feel guilty sometimes but hopefully with sound planning we can preserve a diverse community here in Rogers Park.

We need development here. Before any development had taken place back in the early and mid 90s I lived on Eastlake Terrace between Howard and Rogers. I was harassed by gang bangers and drug dealers were everywhere. I had to drive everywhere I went. I would never have considered buying back then. Thanks to some folks more adventurous than myself who did choose to buy here and renovate and develop, things have changed for the better. Now some of those same folks want it to stop. They probably feel entitled a bit since they weathered the rougher days. I can understand that, I felt that way when I left Lincoln Square.

What I am trying to say is this: Change is sometimes painful. Noone will argue that, but change is also the only thing that is going to make this neighborhood a better place to live. If you want less crime, increase the number of home OWNERS who have a vested interest in the property and will call the police on drug dealers and taggers. If you want more police, increase population density a bit and we will get more officers to patrol the streets. If you want more shops in the vacant eye sore that is the Gateway center, attract more middle class families to the neighborhood. People don't open shops until they have done market research to see if it is lucrative to do so. Let's face it folks, it may not be the best system but it's the way the world works.

I think we need increased development that is well planned to best benefit the majority of the citizens who live here. I don't think we have to run everybody out of the nighborhood and start from scratch to do that but there are going to be challenges. We can't isolate ourselves from the rest of the city and expect city hall to take care of all our problems. They know how the system works and when the majority of the city is on board with that program they aren't going to change it for us.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Documents in regards to correspondence between the 49th Ward office and myself in reference to problems/concerns at Arbour House:

Sent on September 12th:

Good Afternoon,

I am not certain to whom I should send this complaint and would greatly appreciate it if you could direct it to the appropriate department.

I live at ???? W Fargo Ave in Chicago, 60626. My building is neighbored by Arbour Health Care. Since my wife and I have moved in earlier this year we have noticed many activities that raise concerns about the facilities ability to care for and supervise its patients. Initially we had hoped that these would be isolated incidents but recently it has become clear that there are chronic problems at the facility including serious crimes committed within the facility as is evidenced by Citizen iCam.

On more than one occasion we have noticed the sale of drugs to tenants over the fence. One patient was seen smoking illicit drugs (crack) in the alley behind the building and engaging in acts of prostitution. One patient has been seen at least twice walking on the front lawn after having taken his pants down in front of women passing through the neighborhood. Another mentally handicapped patient has tried to forcibly enter our building at least twice that he has been caught. Another female patient has been found lying on the sidewalk directly in front of the building in a disoriented state repeatedly striking herself in the head. This same woman has been seen pan handling in the parking lot of the strip mall where your offices are located. These are just some of the things that my wife and I have witnessed since moving in and we have only been here since May. Other neighbors have seen similar activities and have asked the operators of the facility to address them but nothing has been done. A few weeks ago dozens of old lockers and dressers appeared behind the building providing a breeding ground for rats and nesting places for wasps and bees. Complaining to the management has gotten us nowhere. Several members of our building have decided to escalate the matter by always reporting issues to the police. We have tried to be understanding thus far as we understand that many of the residents have mental handicaps and limited resources. However, since it has been brought to my attention that some of the patients are registered sex offenders I worry for the well being of women and children in my neighborhood when such poor care and supervision is being provided at the facility.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.


Michael Kaszynski

  • After sending this I was contacted by Wayne stating that the Alderman's Chief of Staff would be contacting the buildings management on September 19th upon his return from vacation.

Sent on September 20th:

Good Morning,

I contacted the ward last week in regards to issues concerning Arbour Health Care. I received a voice mail message indicating that the alderman's chief of staff would be contacting the building's management to address these issues on Sept. 19th. Could you please provide me with any details you have in regards to these issues?

Since my letter last weekend, the board members of our condo association drafted a letter and delivered it to the management of Arbour and I have not seen any action taken to correct these problems. The old cabinets in back of the building remain and there are still issues with some of the residents acting inappropriately while in front of the building without supervision. Just this morning I witnessed a resident smoking marijuana on the patio.

If this matter is not soon resolved I believe it would be appropriate to escalate the matter to the appropriate regulating body. I am sure that the current conditions are far from being within compliance of codes and regulations for a health care facility.

Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Michael Kaszynski

  • After sending this letter I received a call from Kevin stating his actions which I detailed in the following email to people in my building.

Good Afternoon,

I received a call from Kevin at the 49th ward office a few minutes ago. He told me that he had spoken to administrators at Arbour and received the following response to issues that were brought to his attention:

Old cabinets in parking lot.

Administrators claimed that they originally had hoped to donate them to the salvation army but were never picked up and had planned on breaking them down a few at a time and putting them in with the regular trash.

Kevin told them this was unacceptable and that they would need to get a construction dumpster and have them removed at once.

Gentleman who tries to open doors.

He is taken to a work program during the day and drivers were leaving him in front of the building.

He is to be brought inside the premises by the drivers and never to be allowed outdoors unsupervised.

Woman seen engaged in acts of prostitution.

She has been discharged from the facility.

Gentleman who exposes himself.

Apparently, they were well aware of the problem as he exposes himself inside the facility as well.

They are trying to have him discharged but his parents are fighting it. Will follow up as needed.

Drug dealing on the premises and use in public areas by patients.

Management is aware of problems both in and around the facility.

Administrators claim that they are looking into adding additional surveillance cameras to alleviate the problem.

I hope that the operators are true to their word and make the necessary improvements. I thanked the folks at the ward office for working on this and I am hopeful that we will make continued progress in improving our neighborhood. Please let me know if there are any other questions or concerns that you may want addressed whether it be about Arbour or any other problem. I will be more than happy to include them in future correspondence I have with the ward office.


Michael Kaszynski

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

This is my first posting. Forgive me if I do not use proper blog etiquette (if there is such thing) as I am new at this. The intention of this blog is to document actions in my Rogers Park neighborhood both positive and negative hopefully to better the neighborhood for all who live here.

Of primary concern are the following:
  • Drug dealers operating with impunity on our streets.
  • The many elder care and health care providers providing real care and being accountable for the actions of their patients. This is directed primarily to a building neighboring mine (Arbour Health Care) that is grossly mismanaged.
  • Holding local government accountable for poor planning such as building the Gateway Center without having buy in from businesses thus creating a massive void in what could be a very prosperous area in the community. I cannot believe that funds for its development were squandered without more private funding.
  • Ensuring the safety of all residents but especially children and the elderly who for the most part have no input as to where they live.
I am of course wiling to discuss all other issues that affect the community and its residents. Once I have the hang of this, I hope to update and add valuable content whenever possible.