No one likes school closures. Make no mistake, they are disruptive, and that has certainly been the case in Hyde Park. Many Hyde Park and Kenwood residents, parents and elected officials opposed the closure of Miriam G. Canter Elementary School last year. In spite of ardent community opposition, the Chicago Board of Education phased out the school.
We now face the question about what to do with the Canter building. I believe the solution is to relocate the Kenwood Academy Academic Center to Canter. Currently the Academic Center has 264 students enrolled and Canter’s ideal capacity is 390 students. Moving the Academic Center to Canter will give the Academic Center room to grow, while freeing up space for Kenwood to grow, as well.
In the upcoming weeks I will be working closely with parents, community organizations and Kenwood Academy to put together a plan for this relocation.
I’m looking forward to a productive, meaningful collaboration so we can reach an outcome that best serves the futures of our community’s students.
I was disappointed to read the April 2 story outlining plans for permit parking in the 5th Ward. All this will do is push the problem to the next block. This is not a solution that serves the community. Ever drive to North Side neighborhoods where permit parking is ubiquitous? Ubiquitously annoying, frustrating and curse-worthy. The streets are public, which I thought meant they are open to all, not a few. It’s bad enough that the meters are everywhere. This is not the answer to urban parking problems. Living in the city, you know there are parking issues. It’s like complaining about the noise when you move to a house next to O’Hare.
I know how near and dear to many folks’ hearts this idea is, but I see it as a wrong step for Hyde Park.
One of the reactions of long-time Hyde Parkers to Susan Davis’ valuable and obviously timely series on “Lost Hyde Park” must be one of both sadness and outrage, not just for the historic structures we lost but also for the goods and services we no longer have and so far, in the current “urban removal” process, are not getting back.
A short list includes Breslauer’s (dry goods-and-misc.) department store, the Fret Shop (musical instruments and repair), Plants Alive, Cooley’s Candles, the Sewing Circle, Acasa Books, 2nd Time Around, Artisans 21, Buttons and Bows, the Fair Trader, the Green Door and the entire Artist’s Colony on 57th Street. These or similar businesses (e.g. small appliance repair, a tailors, an ice cream parlor, a knitting/crafts shop, an upholsterer) could have been happily housed in the now defunct, historically interesting and irreplaceable greystone rowhouses on Harper. Any of that kind of blend — interesting, varied, designed for ‘browsing-as-well-as-shopping’ — would augment and diversify the stagnant mix of restaurants and “stylish” clothing places now coming to Hyde Park. Instead, we will have a parking lot.
The wanton, unnecessary demolition of those greystones is just one more travesty currently being perpetuated by the “we know best” conglomerate apparently determined to remake Hyde Park into a fancy bedroom community. Current residents who plan to stay and live here probably know that a “bedroom community” is not a “community” and certainly not a “Village.” Residents in such places rarely volunteer for or join or support community organizations or events, since after all they plan to stay only for three to five years.
It seems this is to be the result for Hyde Park faster than one can say “the University of Chicago” or “MAC Properties”, to whom an award for historic preservation is obviously a joke, or at best an accident. I hope these comments elicit thought, debate and even action.
Inaugurated with a chorus of 5,200 voices, the World’s Columbian Exposition brought 20 million visitors to Hyde Park. From that moment forward, Chicago entered the ranks of a world-class city.
To showcase the possibilities of our community, C.A. Kapp, a local property owner, built at 5110-14 Jefferson Street (now Harper Avenue) a triad of urban homes, attached to each other with beautifully carved stone detailing. When acquired 117 years later by MAC Property Management, their community development representative told us in the Herald: “This façade is unbuildable today. The real crime would be to let it deteriorate so far that it would have to be torn down.”
Twelve days later, amid community accolade, MAC presented a re-development plan for the nearby Village Center and received from our neighborhood TIF $11.3 million of local tax dollars. Last week MAC, a private New Jersey company, demolished these three historic homes now saying they were “unable to find a way to rehabilitate the building affordably.” In this callous manner “the real crime” was committed, and every property owner has suffered a loss.
Clearly it is time for the tax-paying supporters of our long-standing, forward-looking community to re-evaluate decision-making at the local level.
On Saturday evening, April 5, readers of the Herald will be able to do good while enjoying an evening out. That is the date of the ninth annual Taste of Hyde Park, the major annual fundraiser for the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project. The location will be the Church of St. Paul and the Redeemer, 4945 S. Dorchester Ave., with the event officially starting at 6 p.m and lasting to roughly 9 p.m. Attendees will be able to sample food and drink from twenty or more local eating establishments, enjoy the jazz offerings of Willie Pickens and look for bargains in the silent auction. Tickets are $35 in advance, or $40 at the door (less for students with ID and children). To purchase tickets on-line and in advance, readers should go to hpthp.org. Folks with questions can write to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Allan at 773-595-4921, up until noon of the day of the event.
Strive has always been proud to call Hyde Park-Kenwood home. As a truly community-initiated organization, we have been providing free academic and mentoring support to children in our neighborhood since before our 1990 incorporation as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Strive’s students, volunteers, board members and staff all have Hyde Park-Kenwood roots. And this is why we are so excited about our spring benefit’s return to the neighborhood.
In the spirit of reciprocity, Strive delights at being a stable source of pride to our neighborhood. Times are exciting for our program, as we’re in a period of growth. Student enrollment and volunteer participation is greater than it’s been in many years, and our program is in high demand with an ever-growing wait list. Our students arrive with enthusiasm, and our volunteer base is eager to contribute in innovative ways.
Of course, successful growth only happens within a community of support. We invite you to support our work by joining us at our spring benefit, which will be held at Hyde Park Bank on the evening of Saturday, April 5. Event and program details are available on our website, strivetutoring.org; Facebook page, facebook.com/StriveHyde Park, or by calling our office at 773-268-4910. We are also happy to accept tax-deductible contributions in any amount. Every dollar helps.
Thank you to all of our contributors for allowing the lives of children right here in Hyde Park-Kenwood to be touched by Strive’s meaningful and lasting work.
Just over a month ago, the Hyde Park Historical Society presented MAC Property Management with the Marian and Leon Despres Preservation Award for the restoration of the Shoreland Hotel. Now we watch the same company’s demolition of the elegant and historic greystone rowhouses on Harper just north of Hyde Park Boulevard. And we learn that the building is being taken down for a mid-block parking lot — the second in the two-block stretch between 51st and 53rd streets. This is not preservation.
Ruth Knack, President Hyde Park Historical Society
After 13 years, Mr. Mark Jelke the owner of The Great Frame Up on 53rd Street is still in business and doing better than ever.
Mr. Jelke’s store, The Great Frame Up has however made a slight change in location. He is now on 53rd St. between Dunkin Donuts and Papa John’s pizza stores. Mr. Jelke has been swamped with orders to mat and frame works of all types all winter in spite of the frigid weather this year.
“We get everything from valuable family photos to valuable works of art here,” says Mr. Jelke (himself an accomplished artist).
Art historian Ms. Leslie, Ms. Jessie (who was once an artist with NASA) and life drawing artist Mr. Mykel are The Great Frame Up’s brilliant framing artisans, and do the best of work.
As a follow-up to the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference’s general resolution to keep all the Chicago Public Schools open, we write to support keeping, in particular, Dyett High School (slated for closure in July, 2015) open as an ongoing school.
We argue in favor of keeping Dyett High School open for the following reasons:
Dyett has an important place in the Bronzeville community because it has the potential to provide a college career-focused education to children who really need it. The Bronzeville community is a neighbor to Hyde Park and Kenwood.
Dyett is a key asset to the community because of the overcrowded conditions at Kenwood Academy and the distance the Dyett population would have to travel if they went to any other school. If Dyett closes, there will be no convenient neighborhood public high school for the neighborhoods it serves for the first time in 100 years.
Children should have the option of being able to walk to good public schools in familiar settings without having to cross into danger zones or endure inconvenient transport. The closure will be detrimental to families, schools and neighborhoods. The Woodlawn neighborhood has Hyde Park High. The Hyde Park and South Kenwood neighborhoods have Kenwood Academy. This leaves the west side of Woodlawn, Washington Park, Lower Grand Boulevard, North Kenwood and Oakland neighborhoods with Phillips High School, which is located at 244 E. Pershing Road, far from many of these neighborhoods.
Families in Bronzeville and from surrounding neighborhoods would like Dyett as a school that can provide a safe environment for their children.
There has been sustained community involvement by Bronzeville parents, community members, organizations and students in the development of a plan for the revitalization of Dyett High School, and the community has demonstrated its capacity to support the school.
The school has a successful partnership with the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The Dyett facility is a good facility in a special setting (Washington Park) with recent general capital improvements made to the gym and weight room.
This public school building should remain open as a public neighborhood school.
Please keep Walter H. Dyett High School open.
Anita R. Hollins, President and for the Board of Directors The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference
Elections for the local school councils (LSC) — a governing body of public schools consisting of the principal, two teachers, one non-teaching staff, six parents, two community representatives and, high schools, one student —are drawing near. The application deadline is March 14th and the elections are April 7 and April 8. We need a concerted effort to canvass the schools that do not have an organized LSC in Hyde Park-Kenwood.
There are three reading levels: independent, instructional and frustration. Our students are typically tested on frustration level. This is why it looks as though the parent, teacher, student, schools, faith-based organizations and education stakeholders are failing. We will never know our students’ full potential unless we are testing them on the instructional level as the frustration level means the student is not comprehending. Take a book your child loves to read, then Google Fry Readability Graph to understand how to find your child’s independent reading level. The instructional level is a level above that, and the frustration level is a level above the instructional level where a teacher must teach beyond the call of duty to differentiate instruction on the student’s instructional level that is not necessarily the grade level. Let your child’s teacher know the independent reading level of your child.
I encourage all of the 40,000 plus residents of Hyde Park-Kenwood to get involved. If you question what is going on in your child’s education the LSC is the place to be. LSCs are your opportunity to leave your life experience with the future generation. The deadline is March 14 — elections April 7 elementary and April 8 high school — and you can become an important part of a child’s education — again! See your child’s school clerk today!
The most interesting agenda item at the Feb. 18 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council meeting was not even on the agenda. I refer to the proposal, supported by Ald. Will Burns (4th), to allow MAC Properties to use two parking spaces (36 feet of curb space) on Kenwood just north of 53rd Street for valet parking between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. I find this problematic for two reasons: it gives away public goods for private use, and whatever logic the alderman applies in making these decisions is known only to him.
The market value of two parking spaces at that corner is easily calculated, as there is paid parking right there on 53rd Street for $2 an hour per space, which works out to about $12,000 a year for two spaces. Presumably MAC Properties could make an arrangement to use two spaces on 53rd Street by covering the lost revenue. If Burns wants to give MAC free access to two public parking spaces instead, then I would like at the very least to see him provide $12,000 in benefit to the neighborhood from his own funds.
And why does MAC in particular deserve this favor? What policy is the alderman applying here? What if other business owners on 53rd Street ask for similar concessions? MAC seems to be protecting itself against anticipated future parking problems. I really want to believe that Burns’s decision is not capricious, but that would require more transparency than I have seen so far.
I would like to say that I was shocked, but unfortunately the giving away of public goods for private benefit is kind of the point of a TIF. This gift of two parking spaces pales in comparison to the $11.3 million subsidy for MAC’s City Hyde Park or the $23.4 million for Harper Court, but that does not make it right. Because it’s good for MAC doesn’t mean it’s good for the community.
It was with great pleasure that we read your article about the opening of the rebuilt outpatient center at La Rabida Children’s Hospital. The center has been transformed into a modern, energy efficient (applying for LEED Certification), well-equipped health center. It was attended by scores of caring and concerned public and community officials. Since the 1893 World’s Fair, it is still located on the La Rabida Promenade peninsula in Jackson Park at the southeastern edge of Hyde Park. Its spectacular lakefront vistas provide a beautiful, relaxing setting for sick children to triumph over chronic illnesses, disability or abuse.
La Rabida was built by Spain for the 1893 World’s Fair in Jackson Park, honoring the Franciscan monastery where Christopher Columbus lived and prayed as he planned his voyage to the New World. After the fair, La Rabida stood while other fair buildings were razed by fires. In 1895, the Spanish consul petitioned the Commissioners of the South Park Board to dedicate the building for use as “a free, fresh air sanitarium for the children of the poor living in crowded, unwholesome districts of the city.” Dr. Robert A. Black, from his graduation from medical school in 1904 until the 1950s, directed the treatment, staffing and fundraising and was able to open a modern, better equipped building in 1932. He enlisted the staff from four medical schools to do inpatient and community health care outreach for impoverished urban children. Over the years, it has treated thousands of children with chronic diseases, disabilities and abuse-related injuries. It provides both inpatient and outpatient care, plus training and support for families who care for these chronically ill children at home. Today, with its rebuilt modern outpatient center, it can better serve its young patients needs in its historical, healing, lakefront setting.
La Rabida today is staffed by physicians, nurses, and support staff primarily from the University of Chicago. It provides state-of-the-art care to its young patients. Hundreds of volunteers from Hyde Park and Chicago communities help by rocking babies, playing with children and tutoring the older hospitalized children and their siblings. Hundreds of volunteers from The Jackson Park Advisory Council work with the Chicago Park District, maintaining Jackson Park-La Rabida as a beautiful, safe park where patients and their families mingle with community joggers, bikers, bird watchers, dog walkers, musicians, fishermen and families enjoying the beauty and peace of the lakefront. La Rabida’s 67th Street Beach, once the place where thousands of families and young singles spent their weekends and summer nights, is now being rediscovered by its neighbors. La Rabida Hospital and Park in Jackson Park is a medically vital and historic part of our community that we should all know and support. A hundred years from now people will not remember what kind of car you drove or how big your bank account was, but if you help a child survive and thrive, you will be remembered always.
Louise McCurry President of the Jackson Park Advisory Council
A Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Action Council (HP-K CAC) election recall is requested. Wednesday, Feb. 19, the HP-K CAC elections were held at Kenwood Academy for two co-chairs and two secretaries with three candidates each, but I contest the HP-K CAC elections. I was one of three candidates who ran for co-chair of the HP-K CAC to assist community and parents to create Level 1 schools through family and community engagement. I became temporary leadership by attending HP-K CAC meetings: planning, e-mailing and discussing crucial educational issues with the intent of creating a three-point plan to save our traditional neighborhood public schools — Canter and Dyett — from closing. Our community needs and deserves neighborhood public schools in walking distance of their homes —elements of citizenship and democracy should not be compromised.
Before we started the HP-K CAC, we mobilized at Canter school — next door to Kenwood Academy — then we held meetings at Kenwood Academy King Room and Little Theatre. Though the HP-K CAC formed from a “Save Canter and Dyett” theme, there was less interest in saving these schools and a three-point plan over time. Instead, the HP-K CAC kept looking for business interests and somewhat disregarding education interest. For instance, when I submitted my suggestion for the three-point plan, the CAC liaison told me that there was not enough interest in my three point plan because the CAC was not fully formed, even though this liaison told me that we were an official CAC at the All-CAC meeting. HP-K CAC also introduced the group as the 9th CAC to form city-wide.
As my temporary leadership role in the CAC continued, I noticed that more and more favoritism was being shown toward another candidate for co-chair. The candidate called a meeting at her home. Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-K CC) leaders initially started the organization of the CAC, but were not invited. Later I was told by a HP-K CC Schools Committee representative that the HP-K CC did not want that meeting held without them present. As we met the “winning” candidate was given the position as point person to the CAC liaison (while she and I were serving as Temporary HP-K CAC leadership) by a CAC member at a meeting with only four CAC members attending. Afterward I sent an e-mail for my interest in being a point person to the “winning candidate” and she did not agree with me being point person along with her. She took on the point person position as CAC liaison without a vote of the full CAC. This was in a sense “gerrymandering,” and taking power that was not approved by well-organized community organizations.
Later, the “winning candidate” was told to present the agenda before and for the election on Feb. 19 by a member of the CAC. Again, the full CAC did not vote on her being point person while running for the position of co-chair. There were no vote watchers assigned to watch the vote counting. There were only about 40 voters in attendance. The CAC liaison told us that all could vote.
At the Feb. 5 meeting held at the “winning” co-chair’s home, it was said that they were going to disregard dates set for CACs citywide to achieve certain goals, not mentioning all the e-mails I sent with my website targeted at helping parents to build their child’s reading skills and meet those goals — my suggestion for the three-point plan on my website. They never commented on it through e-mails, at meetings, or in person — it was as though I was a “ghost” CAC member when it came to visiting my website and participating in planning and tasks.
More importantly I suggested that we needed an “agent of change” — improve level 3 schools — that could be ownership of reading levels (reading more on independent reading levels for mastery while preparing for instructional levels and never being tested on frustration levels) as testing on frustration levels is unreliable and invalid in the school community.
I have contacted CPS Network 9 out of the 13 networks city-wide to file a complaint. They are preparing the complaint as of this moment. I ask for another election that is fair and democratic without favoritism, and all candidates be allowed vote watchers or poll watchers to verify count.
Patricia A. Breckenridge Hyde Park-Kenwood Temporary HP-K CAC Leadership