Letters to the Editor

Miss Tammie finds a new home

To the Editor:

Since my move out of the Hyde Park neighborhood club, I have now found a new home at the United Church of Hyde Park, 1448 E. 53rd St., at Blackstone Avenue.
The move was made possible by all the wonderful parents whose children I teach every day.

I appreciate the trust they instill in me. I value their input on the school and I appreciate their time and effort they put in the move. Their help and dedication I appreciate immensely. If it was not for them, the move would not have been possible.

From the bottom of my heart I thank them ever so kindly.

I also wish to thank the Rev. Larry E. Turpin, pastor at United Church of Hyde Park, the board members and secretary for opening their doors to the Montessori school.
The relaunch, as we are opened, of the school at the new location will be revealed at a fundraiser at a later date.

I again want to thank everyone who has lent a hand: Mr. and Mrs. Marshall, Ms. Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Pope, Mr. and Mrs. Read, Mr. and Mrs. Srinivasan, Mr. and Mrs. Srivastava, Mr. Varanasi and Mrs. Allu, Mr. and Mrs. Guillory, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Maria, Mr. and Mrs. Patton, Mr. and Mrs. Penwell, Mr. and Mrs. My-Noc Tran, Mr. and Mrs. Witherspoon, Mr. and Mrs. Lee, Mr. and Mrs. O’Bannan, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, Mr. and Mrs. Gowder and Mr. Paul Sanders. 

Miss Tammie Crutcher
The Childrens House

Thanks to all who supported Drop-In

To the Editor:

Chicago Hyde Park Village thanks everyone who came to and supported our pilot Drop-In program at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave. The third Drop-In last Friday, June 7, was the best of all. We had some lively discussions, delicious focaccia sandwiches prepared for us by Hyde Park Produce and “stress baked” (it’s exam time!) scones prepared for us by student bakers from Burton Judson dorm.

Sadly, that was the last of the pilot Drop-Ins. There will not be a Drop-in this coming Friday. The University of Chicago student group, spearheaded by Andrew Holzman, is hoping to join forces with us again in the fall to resume the program. In the meantime, we are exploring ways to bring a few Drop-Ins to you over the summer. Watch for notices.

Again, thanks to all who joined us these past three Fridays and for your thoughts and suggestions.

Susan Alitto
President, Chicago Hyde Park Village

University, McMobil ruining Hyde Park

To the Editor:

When my family and I moved to Hyde Park from Washington, D.C., in the mid 1960s, we noted a number of very positive similarities in the two communities. Lots of green: trees and grass were plentiful. A sense of space: buildings were, for the most part, low with parkways and lawns. The sky was easily visible without getting a crick in one’s neck. Moving about either by foot or by car was easy: congestion was minimal. There were lots of interesting “Mom and Pop” stores.

In the past 10 or more years, the university seems to be taking great pleasure in destroying all that is positive about Hyde Park. Trees are coming down. Buildings are becoming sidewalk to sidewalk. Where are the grass and trees? Buildings are becoming taller. Where is the sky?

The McMobil site is a perfect example of all that is becoming bad in Hyde Park. Vue53 is too tall and encroaching for the community. It will add far more traffic than the community can support. Where will the new arrivals park?

I will not pretend that the following is my original idea, but I would strongly urge the community and university to seriously consider moving the planned Vue53 project to where the Plant Department currently stands, on Stony Island just south of 56th Street. The advantages are plentiful. The first and most obvious is that this piece of land is larger so that the new building need not be 14 stories high and a parking garage could be included or added to the roof. The current building already extends to the sidewalk, so no grass nor trees would be sacrificed in building out. Stony Island is wider than 53rd Street, so additional traffic could flow more freely. The occupants of the apartments would have Metra within half a block and several bus lines within a block – unlike at the current proposed site where the closest bus line is more than four blocks away. In addition, a major economic reason for not building as tall as planned on 53rd Street is the city’s mandated regular critical façade inspections. These are expensive!

I have heard that the university is planning to build a new dormitory on the Plant Department site. This could and should be placed on the McMobil site. Most dormitory students do not have cars and therefore walk, easing traffic congestion. The McMobil site is closer to the quads than is the Plant Department site, ergo more student friendly. Students get tired of “dorm food” and will willingly go to the many new eateries on 53rd Street.

Mary Fano Giacomoni

Vue53 part of positive Hyde Park trends

To the Editor:

I fully support the proposed redevelopment of the “McMobil” site (Vue53). I have lived in Hyde Park for a decade with my wife and three kids. We could live anywhere in Chicago but we decided to raise our family here in Hyde Park. With confidence, I can say that there is no other place in America like Hyde Park. We love it because of the diversity, access to the lake, proximity to the downtown, strong housing stock and the association with one of the most prestigious universities in the country. However, Hyde Park has one glaring weakness in the form of limited retail and restaurant options. While we have the basic services, we can do better!
Clear progress has been made with the current redevelopment of Harper Court, but we can’t stop there. The proposed Mobil site redevelopment will further enhance the west portion of the 53rd Streetcommercial corridor. This new state-of-the-art apartment building will house over 300 new residents, which will bring more patrons and spending to support the existing businesses and entice other retailers to set-up shop in Hyde Park. The size and density of the new building is precisely what we need to create demand for more retail offerings. The building will include parking and retail space on the ground level, filling in the current open gap in the streetscape. Furthermore, the proposed development will not utilize any public subsidy but, in fact, will help to replenish the tax increment that has been depleted by the Harper Court development.

Lastly, I want to keep my family’s spending in Hyde Park to support the neighborhood that we love. We look forward to the day when we can stroll down 53rd Street and discover all of the new shopping options from Harper Court to Kimbark Plaza. To make this vision a reality we need to support Vue53 and make it happen.

Alderman Burns, I thank you for your support of this project!

Charles Young

Mesa development has many advantages

To the Editor:

I fully support the efforts of Mesa Development LLC to revitalize 53rd Street with its high-rise and leased commercial space. As a long-time resident, I welcome the opportunity to secure more stores and restaurants with quality options for Hyde Park residents.
Our family has decided to live in Hyde Park all of these years because of its cultural diversity, its proximity to the Loop, our business and because we have made many friends in the neighborhood. After many years, we’re beginning to see commercial changes. The steady stream of new options in Hyde Park is welcoming to say the least.

The Mesa development will clearly help define that goal and will surely bring more vibrant and exciting pedestrian retail to 53rd Street. While creating jobs and tax revenue, it will also give additional retail options for national and local merchants.
Steve Thomas

Thanks to supporters of Village Drop-In

To the Editor:

Chicago Hyde Park Village thanks the Hyde Park Herald for your help in publicizing our pilot Drop-In programs for older residents. We did not have much lead time, but with the support of the Herald and neighbors, we’ve managed to get out the word. About two dozen people have joined us for each of the first two Friday Drop-Ins. We hope to welcome more participants this coming Friday, the last session in this pilot program.

Some reasons people have said they like the Drop-Ins: “[socializing with] people—of all ages; … computer help;” “[making] new friends;” “the interaction of everyone;” “the poetry discussion was very good;” “learning about the community;” “getting in touch with neighbors;” “chance to talk with older people … my kids need grandparent mentor figures!” “chatting with the U. of C. students.” Everyone who was there said the Drop-Ins should continue.

CHPV especially thanks U. of C. freshman Andrew Holzman who initiated this project, his several classmates who have participated and helped, Mather LifeWays for partnership seed money, and Augustana Church for use of their social hall.

Check us out this Friday (June 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave.) and let us know what you think. We will be assessing whether we can and should continue the program in the fall.

Susan Alitto
President, Chicago Hyde Park Village

Hoping leafletters learn to read

To the Editor:

After years of getting unwanted flyers, newsletters and other ads littering up our Hyde Park house, I finally put up a “no flyers” sign on the gate to our yard two years ago. But we still get this clutter on a daily basis, and some local merchants are the worst about it: Fortune Painting, Sarpino Pizza, Leona’s, Atino Pizza, Vazquez Bros. Landscape and the Cornerstone Baptist Church have all left us multiple flyers, often hanging right next to the sign. There’s a city ordinance against this; but I’d settle for these guys just learning to read the sign.

Seth Richardson

Check out the Village Drop-In

To the Editor:

Seniors in Hyde Park will not want to miss the opportunity to drop in and hang out with University of Chicago students this Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the meeting room of Augustana Lutheran Church at 55th Street and Woodlawn Avenue. This will be the third such Drop-In, sponsored by the Hyde Park Village, at the instigation of Andrew Lee Holzman, a freshman philosophy major from Cape Cod. I have enjoyed both prior Drop-Ins. Each one offered something different. At the first, an informal discussion of the McMobil plans got our temperatures rising. At the second, three tables — a poetry table, a tech table and a third were set up. Hadley, a freshman in international studies who plans to spend next year in Kyoto, led the poetry table in a lively discussion of three of her favorite poems. A poem by Billy Collins got us all talking about our memory lapses. At the Tech table, Andrew was answering questions from seniors who had brought their computers. Students circulated among the tables and answered our questions about where they were from, what they were studying, what they hoped to do with their lives and how they liked the university and the community.
There are also refreshments — drinks, sandwiches and munchies — and while we enjoyed them, we also circulated and met other students, all of whom seem to be friends of Andrew, or friends of friends.

Come and see for yourself this Friday. It’s like hanging out with your own grandchildren at the university.

Mary Rose Shaughnessy

Drop-In is great service for seniors

To the Editor:

My husband and I recently visited the Hyde Park Village’s drop-in center for seniors. The Village tried the program out to gauge interest, and may start it up again in the fall if the number of attendees is high enough. The Drop-In, which includes discussions, socialization and lunch, is not to be missed. I recommend it to my neighbors and urge them to support it by attending the final session next Friday, June 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave.

Stop by!

Carroll Giocondo

In support of Mesa’s Vue53 development

To the Editor:

I’m writing this letter in support of Mesa Development’s plans for the Vue53 project. As a somewhat newer resident to the neighborhood, I have become acutely aware of the need for additional providers of goods and services throughout the community. My family has become far too accustomed to making the trek north to Roosevelt Road for many of life’s most basic needs. I believe that continued development on 53rd Street and elsewhere in Hyde Park by firms of Mesa’s pedigree will help to stimulate jobs, sales taxes, property values and overall quality of life for all neighborhood residents. I am very confident that memories of the gas station, car wash and ugly asphalt parking lot will vanish in a minute upon this development’s completion.

Hyde Park is a wonderful, unique, tight knit neighborhood which is the reason my family chose to relocate here from the North Side. However, embracing positive change will only enhance these attributes and ensure they continue indefinitely. Please join in support of Mesa.

Meredith Oliver and family.

Thanks to supporters of Kenwood student

To the Editor:

Eva Lewis, 8th grader at Kenwood Academy High School Academic Center, and I, Valerie Andrews-Lewis, Eva’s mother, would like to thank all of our supporters for their very generous contributions in making it possible for Eva to represent Illinois and Kenwood Academy as a participant in the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day competition at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. We also appreciate the coverage that the Hyde Park Herald gave to our efforts to raise the necessary funds to underwrite Eva’s trip in the article by Daschell Phillips in the May 15, 2013 issue.

Eva Lewis will present her website, “The South Shore Country Club and the Proposed Demolition: A Turning Point that Sparked the Voice of the People,” along with another Kenwood Academy High School Academic Center winner, Hope Rogers. Hope will also present her research paper, “Return of Tradition: Chicago’s Role in the Folk Music Revival,” at the National History Day competition.

We wish to acknowledge the following organizations and a number of individuals who were very instrumental in helping us exceed our fundraising goal of $2,000:

  • Dr. Brazier, Pastor of Apostolic Church of God, and members of his congregation
  • Kathy Huff for her fundraising efforts and to additional members of the Hyde Park Historical Society
  • Pastor Corey Brooks, New Beginning Church, and founder of Project Helping Others Obtain Destiny (H.O.O.D.)
  • Mrs. Geraldine de Haas, former member of the Coalition to Save the South Shore Country Club Park
  • Erma Tranter and Friends of the Park
  • Catherine Celimene and Children’s Rendez-vous Inc.
  • Pamela Flowers and the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Council

We would also like to thank Dr. Gregory Jones, Principal of Kenwood Academy High School, and Tanya Towns, Business Manager, for receiving and accounting for the donations that were sent to the school.

Valerie Lewis-Andrews

Happy to see Vue53 has city support

To the Editor:

I was happy to see the Chicago Plan Commission passed the plan to build Vue 53.

I think it is an improvement for Hyde Park. When I walk down 53rd Street from Lake Park to Ellis avenues, I notice how underdeveloped Ellis to Kenwood avenues is. The building is in scale for the neighborhood.

Mark Mandle

Restore our historical density with McMobil plan

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of the Vue53 development. Many letters have already been written in favor (and against) this development. I wanted to take a historical prospective.

Hyde Park used to be a more urban neighborhood that had a denser population and several thriving commercial districts. During Urban Renewal, the population of Hyde Park was reduced by about 50 percent and the new model was a more suburban, car-friendly neighborhood with very limited retail. I think most Hyde Parkers would agree that we are a lousy suburb but have the potential to be good, possibly great, urban neighborhood.

To get there we need to restore the lost density. That will have good and bad consequences. There is concern that Vue53 will create a “traffic nightmare on 53rd Street.” The issue of traffic is debatable (gas stations generate a lot of traffic), but I suspect street parking will get harder as population density increases.

Most buildings in Hyde Park provide no parking for their residents; Vue53 will provide some. If we aspire to have a suburban neighborhood, then traffic and parking should be our highest aspirations. But many of us would welcome a more urban landscape, even if it makes Hyde Park less car friendly.

Walking along 53rd street will be much nicer once Vue53 replaces the gas station and vacant lot that once housed a fast food restaurant. That is a trade I’m happy to make. In summary, I am very glad that the developers of Vue53 are willing in risking their money to help Hyde Park regain what it once had. I hope there is more of the same in our future.

Abraham A. Palmer

Mesa’s McMobil parking numbers are all wrong

To the Editor:

At the May 7 meeting of the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council, Mesa Development claimed that it was providing 230 parking spaces for the McMobil development, which exceeded the 200 parking spaces required under existing zoning. This claim is contradicted by the traffic study prepared by Mesa’s consultant, KLOA.

The traffic study notes a zoning requirement of 200 parking spaces for residential use, and no required parking for commercial. At the TIF Advisory Council meeting, Mesa said that 100 of the 230 parking spaces for the McMobil development are to be reserved for commercial. This leaves 130 for residential, which is a deficit of 70.

The bottom line — even from Mesa’s consultant — is that the McMobil development will exacerbate existing parking problems in central Hyde Park.

Marc Lipinski

Let Hyde Park vote on the McMobil Project

To the Editor:

Thank you to everybody who attended the Chicago Plan Commission meeting on May 16, wrote letters to the commission or spoke at the meeting. If nothing else the commission and developer have gotten the idea that there is a lot of opposition to McMobil. This is not over.

Apologists for McMobil talk as if Hyde Park is about to strike oil.

The claims of economic benefits of McMobil are dubious and not backed up by facts. There should be an objective forecast of the economic benefits of McMobil by an organization experienced in doing such forecasts for communities and checking the accuracy of their predictions years later. Meanwhile the McMobil apologists should stop making exaggerated claims.

Hyde Park is home to about 35,000 people. If McMobil is built, about 500 people will occupy the 270 apartments. That is about 1 1/2 percent of the population of Hyde Park. They should increase spending by about 1 1/2 percent. Big deal. That is a minimal economic benefit.

There should be a complete and impartial shadow study and traffic and parking study.
About “filling in the gap in the smile,” that assumes that 53rd Street is full of 13-story buildings all the way to Kimbark Avenue. It’s not. McMobil would fill in the gap with a gold tooth. There could be a four- or five-story building to fill in the gap.

To me McMobil looks like a kid with a Lego set has gone wild.

Wonder why so many people don’t go to public meetings? The May 7 TIF meeting was controlled by the developers and their allies. It was more of an advertisement than an honest discussion of the pros and cons of McMobil. Ald. Will Burns (4th) stood at the back, hiding behind a taller member of support staff. At the March 18 meeting at the Augustana Lutheran Church, Ald. Burns stayed in the lobby and wouldn’t come in to talk to the meeting.

There should be an advisory referendum where Hyde Park residents can vote on McMobil. The city’s decision on McMobil should be put on hold until after the advisory referendum.

Mark Graham