Monday, October 31, 2005

An interesting article from The Reader:

Is Don Gordon working in the best interest of the community or are he and others scaring people to further their own agenda?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

An update about the van issue:

I just received a call from Wayne at Alderman Moore's office. He sounded upset that the owner of the property had lied to him once again. He informed me that the next step is to send the building inspector to her property which will surely be found to be in violation of one code or another. Hopefully, this escalation will get something done. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I am interested to discuss what type of coalition we have with Evanston's 8th ward in regards to development of property, policing, children's programs, and community activism on or near the Chicago/Evanston border? In a conversation I was having with neighbors this weekend, it was suggested that police jurisdiction may play a role in why it has been historically difficult to apprehend suspects in the area. Much like the old Dukes of Hazard episodes where they would stand on the other side of the county line and taunt Roscoe and the gang. Any feedback would be appreciated.
Another note to the Ward office in regards to issues with the owner of the building on the northeast corner of Greenview and Fargo:


We have had correspondence on the issue of a van near the corner of Fargo and Greenview on 2 occasions. In both instances, you have been very quick to respond to my concerns and I appreciate that greatly. Unfortunately, it seems that the owner has simply told us what we wanted to hear with no intention of doing anything about the vehicle. It is very disappointing. She doesn't seem to care much about what goes on inside or outside of her buildings.

Are there any laws on the books that can be used to compell a bad landlord to take better care of their property? A neighbor of mine has contacted her a few times but she has done nothing but give us lip service such as she has to you. This building's lawn was flooded most of the summer when we were in the middle of a draught because a sump pump from the basement was continually pumping into the yard. All the grass in the parkway is dead and the yard is filled with weeds and junk. I believe she owns the building on the northeast corner as well and its yard is in the same poor condition. I've also seen evidence of drug dealing going on in front of this building on more than one occasion.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help resolve this issue. Thank you again for all your help.

Thank you,

Michael K

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Here is an update on the van at the northwest corner of Fargo and Greenview. Wayne called me yesterday to inform me that he had called the owner again and she again told him that she intended to donate the vehicle to "musicians." She stated that the van would be removed within 3 days or at least fixed up and cleaned so as not to be an eyesore or a home to rats. Wayne stated that he would encourage her to donate the vehicle to the city if she does not have it removed soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Last night on my way home 3 boys assaulted another boy on the train. The victim appeared to be asleep or trying to sleep when the 3 others approached from behind and began punching the victim in the head and face. The fight was quickly stopped by my fellow passengers. Several people called 911. When the train reached the next station it remained in the station until police arrived. The boys were aware that the police had been called and tried to evade arrest first by moving to another car and later by running down the stairway while police were coming up the other. With the help of people calling 911 who could see where the kids were headed from the platform, the 911 dispatcher was able to direct officers who finally caught them. All in all I was quite impressed with the response of the police, the CTA, and especially my fellow riders.

The boys in question seemed to be 12 - 13 years old . Hopefully, they are punished and they change their ways before they end up in jail or worse. There are too many kids who run wild without fear of reprimand these days. If more folks take responsibility for raising all of the children in this city and not just their own, we can make these incidents a thing of the past.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A note sent today to the Ward 49 website:

Good Morning,
Several weeks ago I sent a message in reference to a van that that has been rotting in the driveway of the building on the northwest corner of Fargo and Greenview. I received a prompt response from a memeber of the ward staf who spoke with the owner and was told that they planned to donate the vehicle to charity and that it would be gone within a few weeks.
As of this morning, the vehicle remains.

I don't know if there is any additional pressure or actions that can be taken to have the vehicle removed. There is no license on the vehicle, it is sitting on 4 flat tires, and I am concerned it will become a home to rats, mice or other pests. This building owner does not seem to care for the condition of their property which is shameful as it has the potential to be a jewel in the neighborhood.

Please let me know if there is anything at all I can do to support this effort.

Michael Kaszynski

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A note sent to the CTA today. This was sent to an email address found under the Adopt-A-Station program. I will keep this posting updated with any additional information.

Good Afternoon,

A group of people in my Rogers Park neighborhood have expressed an interest in conducting some sort of beautification/clean up project at both or either the Morse or Jarvis El stations. Any information you can provide on how to take first steps and what types of scheduling issues we might face would be greatly appreciated.


Michael K
During a rather animated discussion about drugs and gang activity it was suggested that the best way to get rid of the gangs is to get rid the people who solicit them. Sounds pretty good, get rid of the source of income and the dealers will move on. Makes perfect sense until you ask the question, "Where will they go?" They won't simply vanish off the face of the earth. They'll just be driven into another community and become someone else's problem. That's how many of the dealers, gangs, and junkies ended up here. My question is this, "Has there ever been an effective way of cleaning up a neighborhood in which the undesirable element was not simply pushed into another neighborhood?" Can we save our community without putting another in peril? If not, is it immoral for us to look after our community first and worry about the impact of our actions on other communites second? I am torn. I deeply want RP to be a better place to live for all the of the upstanding citizens in RP to the point where I sometimes think, "Let someone else deal with it. Just get it out of my sight." I am sure many here have had similar thoughts. Sometimes it is easier not to worry about things that are not in our control. I would hope that we could find a solution to better our community without simply passing the "hot potato" to let someone else juggle for awhile. Maybe there isn't a better way. Maybe these problems will always be with us and over time each comunity will have to share the burden of these travelling terrors. I hope that is not the case, but to be sure RP has carried it's fair share of this weight for far too long. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Some people in the neighborhood have expressed concerns with DevCorp North and believe they are doing a disservice to this community. It is my feeling that many of these people are acting in a very reactionary way or perhaps have an agenda of their own . I have yet to see concrete evidence of malicious activity.

I would like to begin a conversation that is based simply on facts dealing with programs that DevCorp has begun and whether or not they were successes or failures. I believe it is important to have a true discussion without getting bogged down in petty details or conspiracy theories. We cannot improve this community by constantly breaking it down. We need to be realistic in our goals and create a culture that understands that people trying to improve Rogers Park will sometimes falter. Learning from these failures while still holding those in power accountable when we are dealing with issues of incompetence or negligence is paramount. It is possible to do these things without being inflammatory or vulgar. Actually, it is the only way to be effective.

Monday, October 10, 2005

This was sent to me in response to a previous post. Thanks to Carol for sharing.

From Carol Goldman

The federally funded H-RAIL program provides minor modifications for safety, security and accessibility, enabling seniors to "Age In Place". It is available to the owners of single-family homes or condos. All work is done by licensed bonded contractors.

I administer the H-RAIL (Home Repairs for Accessible and Independent Living) program for the Rogers Park Community Council under a grant from the Department of Housing, City of Chicago. H-RAIL provides FREE minor repairs to income eligible seniors (60 years and up) in Rogers Park and West Ridge (40th, 49th, and 50th Wards). The program guidelines are generous, the income limits for single seniors are no more that $40,250 total income in a 12 month period, for a 2 person household $46,000, etc. I am presently taking applications for next year's program, which will begin approximately March/April 2006.

This program addresses problems in the interior of the home only; no exterior work is included in the guidelines.

For instance the program can provide grab bars, hand held showers, bath benches, non-skid tile floors, minor plumbing repairs, handicapped accessible toilets and other modifications to make life safer and accessible.

It can provide minor window repair or replacement, lock storm doors, replacement doors to make life more secure.

Please share this information with any seniors you think might need the services of H-RAIL.

For specific information they can call me, Carol Goldman at 773 743-1752 and talk with me about the modifications/repairs you need. I will tell you if it can be done by the H-RAIL program.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

OK. I know I am setting myself up, but I looked at the proposal for Edgewater Harbor and it looks GOOD. It adds more beach and park area and adds restrooms, showers, and concessions that we do not currently have. Provided there are not major ecological ramifications (and please don't start telling me how it will destroy the ecosystem unless you have some solid numbers) I can see no reason to oppose it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

My office is located in an old factory building just south of the North and Clybourn area. It is an area where wealth and poverty; the well to do and the criminal come together in a rather abrupt manner. Crossing Weed Street on the way in to work this morning, I came across an item that perfectly illustrates the forces at play in the area. Lying on the ground next to a recently rummaged through trash can was a Crate and Barrell invoice with blood all over it. How I wish I had my camera.
I was walking down Sheridan last night and noticed that someone has set up a pumpkin stand just north of Pratt on the east side of the street. I really appreciate these kinds of roadside stands and encourage everyone to get over there and buy some pumpkins. I like to roast mine up with a little brown sugar and cinnamon. Serve hot with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I was looking through DevCorp North's retail development plans and came across this:

The 17 story apartment complex is apparently to be built and managed by Bristol Development. I took a quick look at there website ( and I was very impressed by images of previous projects.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I was recently in a discussion about the poor state of repair of many single family homes and their properties. One point that was made is that many of the long time residents of Rogers Park are getting on in years and may no longer be physically or financially able to maintain the property. It made think of a moment in my own past.

My father is/was disabled when I was very young and was unable to maintain our family home as it should have been. After years of neglect and shoddy repair work, the house was in a bad way. Luckily, there were neighbors who lived in the community who were able to get charitable donations of labor and materials made to repair some of the home. They replaced the rotting front stairs, repaired a sagging floor, patched leaks in the roof, pruned trees and bushes and many other things.

Is there some sort of comunity program currently inplace that might allow us to assist those who currently are in the same boat? One home that comes to mind is on the southwest corner of Sheridan and Fargo. It's a beautiful old place and I have seen the owner just a few times. He seems to be in poor health.

Any ideas you have would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Here is the note I sent to DevCorp about Gateway development and the rather sad response:

Good Afternoon,

I live near Fargo and Greenview and I pass through Gateway Center's bus terminal every day going to and from work. Recently, I noticed that there has been a great deal of activity on the lower level in the southwest wing that faces the bus depot. I am quite interested to know what businesses are setting up shop. Any information you have would be greatly appreciated.

Also, I initially tried to send this note to but it was returned accounting to the mailbox being full.


Michael K

Dear Michael -

Thanks for the email and follow up. I'll make sure that the info account gets cleared so others don't get that error message in the future. Based on a recent email from the leasing agent for Gateway, this is what I know:

An ordinance approving the vertical subdivision of the 3-story commercial building at Gateway Centre Plaza was passed at the September 14 city council meeting. Upon obtaining a recordable document, the closing will be scheduled for the sale to Life Storage Centers. Life Storage Centers is an upscale operator of environmentally controlled public storage space that will occupy approximately 104,000 square feet on the Paulina level of Gateway with their main office and retail sales at 7524 N. Paulina facing the plaza. Anticipated opening is January 2006.

On September 2, 2005, Spirit Halloween Stores opened for business in the 10,000 square foot space between Marshalls and Dominick's. This is a temporary lease through November 15, 2005. The leasing company is trying to identify a permanent tenant for this space.

There are currently three (3) leases and one (1) letter of intent currently under negotiation for space at the Gateway Centre and Gateway Centre Plaza.

The construction of the pedestrian walkway which will connect to the new Howard Street Terminal with the Gateway Centre atrium will be coordinated with the CTA during construction of their new building. Depending on the CTA timeline, the leasing agents do not foresee this construction beginning until 2007.

Hope this helps


A storage facility? That's the best we can do? I thought we were trying to increase foot traffic and retail sales. Long term storage isn't the kind of bustling pedestrian business we need. If we're serious about attracting better business to this area we need to do far better than this. No wonder there are no "Coming Soon" signs. Noone wants to be Evanston's closet. What a joke.
It has come to my attetnion that there is a planned station clean up for the Thorndale El stop that has been organized by the Edgewater Community Council. I believe they intend to do a deep cleaning as well as painting, and perhaps some general repairs. I have asked for details as to how they were able to organize this effort as I believe that the Morse and Jarvis stops could really benefit from a similar effort. The sights and smells are currently unacceptable. The stairwell on Jarvis smells so strongly of urine that my wife and I hold our breath and run down the stairs. I will keep you abreast of details as they become available and would appreciate any guidance from anyone with previous experience with these types of projects.
There has been a lot of talk about some of the negative aspects of gentrification lately. The most troublesome being buildings that are being converted to condos and displacing the current residents especially where it is thought that the building is a desirable rental property. It seems to me that a good landlord will probably be less likely to sell their property so long as they are making money. If the property is well maintained and the landlords don't rent to transients and drug dealers then they can collect fair rent and be profitable. There are a few buildings on my street that are in poor shape which is a real shame because you can see that they were once beautiful. They are at 1456 W Fargo and 7450 N Greenview. The yards are filled with trash and there is no grass. Plants are growing wild and unmaintained and drug dealers operate out of the buildings. They are owned by the same person and they have recently been put up for sale. I couldn't be happier. Whether they are turned into condos or simply turned into better maintained apartments, I'll be elated so long as the place is cleaned up.

My question is this: How can we encourage people to come in and buy these types of properties? Is there an incentive we can give to buy the properties we want developed as opposed to properties we would like to remain intact?