To the Editor:
The March 18 meeting at Augustana Church, of well over a hundred people, yielded a lively and thoughtful discussion about the proposed development at the McMobil site. The concerns about this development were specific and well argued. Many of the comments embraced the idea of development, but wanted one consistent with the substantive requirements for scale, traffic and parking on 53rd Street as determined by those present at past “Visioning Workshops.”
At the meeting we were told that Ald. WIll Burns (4th) is the person who has the most influence over the decisions regarding zoning that will or will not advance this development. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend the meeting. But he did come toward the end and stood in the back of the room for a few minutes before retreating to the lobby until the meeting ended.
I’m not sure why, when Ald. Burns was at the meeting, he didn’t welcome the opportunity to hear directly from so many residents who spoke intelligently and passionately about their neighborhood. He appears to be thinking about the issue of traffic on 53rd Street; he has asked the South East Chicago Commission to do a study of traffic and he has suggested that a shuttle bus traveling up and down 53rd Street might be the solution to our traffic and parking problems. He has also written in the Herald about Hyde Park’s tradition of “open, inclusive and meaningful planning processes.” We know he has heard from the university, the Chamber of Commerce and the Kimbark Plaza Board of Directors, supporting this development.
This community deserves to have an alderman who represents them and, while they can’t necessarily contribute to his campaign fund, they do vote. If the required zoning change receives Ald. Burn’s blessing and this development goes through, these same residents will have ample opportunity to think about who their alderman represents while they are sitting in traffic jams on 53rd Street waiting for people coming in and out of the new building, or driving slowly as they look for parking, or waiting for the shuttle as it stops in our narrow street to let people on and off as it drives up and down 53rd Street.