The annual Taste of Hyde Park will take place on Saturday, March 2, between 6 and 9 p.m. This year the location is Church of St. Paul and the Redeemer, 4945 S. Dorchester Ave. The event is the major annual fundraiser for the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project. With food and drink donated by more than 20 Hyde Park and Kenwood restaurants and other food establishments, including some new ones, the evening is a great opportunity to sample food from a wide range of Hyde Park and Kenwood eating establishments in exchange for an admission contribution that goes to a great cause. Adult tickets cost $35, if ticket purchased in advance, or $40 at the door, with lower costs for students with ID and children. Attendees also get to listen to music from local jazz legend Willie Pickens while dining. In addition, there is a silent auction, where attendees can bid on professional services, tickets, gift certificates and more, with opening bids well below the value of the item and all funds going to the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project. So readers can come to the Taste of Hyde Park and have fun doing good. For further information, folks may write to email@example.com or call Allan at 773-595-4921.
I think it would be great to have Artisans 21 on 53rd Street, as suggested by Rob Borja’s Feb. 6 letter. Artisans 21 has a wide variety of attractive, moderately priced items. It would add class to the retail shops in the hotel building in Harper Court. It could provide original, distinctive gifts for purchase by hotel guests. If space isn’t available there, it would also be appropriate to the McMobil location.
The well-known real estate mantra, “Location, Location, Location!” clearly applies to the potential new high-rise on the McMobil site. The proposed building, three floors higher than the University Apartments on 55th Street and almost as wide, would engulf the buildings on either side — and loom over Nichols Park — without achieving the desired goal of transit-oriented development favored by the participants in the various 53rd Street “planning” workshops. It is inaccurate to claim, as some have, that the consensus of the participants favored high-rises on 53rd Street without qualification. Every participant I know consistently added that the acceptance of high-rise development depended on its location.
What this community seriously needs, before any more mistakes are made, is comprehensive, overall neighborhood planning, to ensure desirable density in appropriate locations. “Appropriate locations” is the key to successful development. The previous lack of adequate planning resulted in 53rd Street’s current woes: large amounts of retail crowded onto a street ten feet narrower than 55th Street with no alleys for garbage pickup or merchandise deliveries.
An essential part of intelligent planning is the determination of desirable limits for density. If density measurements studies were ever done for Hyde Park, where is the report? How much density do we actually need and want to have a thriving retail sector? Achieving the density we want is not just a matter of building apartments: Location, location, location is of paramount importance to a successful neighborhood plan.
Additionally, the intensity of land use should not be so great as to cause congestion. High-rises within two blocks of transportation encourage walking to the bus or train rather than driving. The proposed McMobil structure, out of scale with all its surroundings, would be more than six blocks from Lake Park bus lines or the Metra, and almost eight blocks to Hyde Park Boulevard — an uncomfortable walk in the winter. This fact alone is reason enough to pause and reconsider whether putting this building somewhere else is actually more beneficial to Hyde Park’s development goals. The university already owns the former taxi garage at 56th Street and Stony Island Avenue. Why not build the huge building there, and a four-story apartment/retail building on the McMobil site? We would get more retail, more density, all of it in scale and all in sync with transit oriented development.
I am very concerned about the plan to build a high-rise where the Mobil station is now located on 53rd Street. Some of my reasons are as follows:
1. When open, and especially during the construction period, traffic on 53rd Street will have a serious effect on the children who attend Murray Language Academy, plus pedestrians and drivers on 53rd Street. Local businesses will suffer loss of revenue, similar to the loss now felt by places near 53rd Street and Harper Avenue. Those who work on the new building will take all available street parking, also hurting business in Kimbark Plaza where there will be no parking for customers because of construction workers.
2. If the new building will have 267 rental apartments and parking space for 218 cars, with only about half being for residents, where are the rest of the residents supposed to park? Also, it is possible that many of the apartments will be occupied by couples who own two cars. Again, Kimbark Plaza will suffer loss of business. Restaurants there will be unable to attract customers.
3. Residents of west Hyde Park will lose their only gas and car repair station. We will be forced to go to 51st Street and Cornell Avenue or 52nd Street and Lake Park Avenue, thus greatly increasing automobile congestion on the east end of Hyde Park. Watch out Kenwood Academy students.
The planning for the McMobil plot is an important consideration for the future of our pedestrian shopping thoroughfare: 53rd Street.
The new glassy Harper Court development looms as a complement to this project.
We have not forgotten that Haper Court was created to compensate for the destruction of the 57th Street “art colony.” (Many of you bought bonds for its construction.) That is where Artisans 21 existed for all those many years as a vital part of Hyde Park.
As members of that venerable non-profit cooperative gallery (45+ years), located at 55th Street and Hyde Park Boulevard for the foreseeable future, we are determined to remain an integral part of the community as a source for crafts and art.
We at Artisans 21 are convinced that we belong on 53rd Street and that an affordable provision should be made for us in one of the two developments. What do you think?
On behalf of the Hyde Park Historical Society and the Oral History Committee, I wish to thank the Hyde Park Herald for highlighting the partnership that has been developed between the HPHS and the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference in the article that appeared in the Dec. 19 issue of the paper. The article noted the very generous grant that the HP-K CC made to the HPHS Oral History Project for helping with the cost of transcribing oral histories that will be conducted in 2013 of a substantial number of long time conference members who have made a difference in the history of our community.
The society and our committee are very grateful for the support that the conference is showing for this project and for the continued support that is being provided in part by the Hyde Park Bank which also gave us a grant in 2012.
I would like to point out that the direct quote in the article that was made about the “emergent” need to record these oral histories, because many of the people on the list to be interviewed are in their ’80s and ’90s, and their memories would otherwise be lost, was made by Lala Rodgers, who co-chairs the Oral History Committee with me. Lala and six other members of the committee — Bert Benade, Rita McCarthy, Cleveland Holden, Cordelia Benedict, Carol Bradford and Aileen Chenkeli — have been working hard for the last two years to help bring this project to fruition.
Another person whose name should be mentioned is Judy Roothaan, who along with Jane Ciacci, former president of the conference, came to us one year ago with the idea to record the memories of conference members before they meet their “mortality,” to use Judy’s word. Judy was first a staff member of the conference and was also active on their schools committee when her children were attending Kosminski Elemenary School, and she can recount some remarkable stories about the role that the Conference played in improving the schools in Hyde Park and their role in Urban Renewal.
I would like to close by thanking Jane Ciacci for making the initial proposal to the HP-K CC board and to Anita Hollins, the current president of the conference, for inviting Lala and me to make a presentation about the project to the conference. I also wish to thank Timuel Black, George Rumsey, Mary Ann Johnson, Jacqueline Dace, Victoria Haas, Judy Roothaan and the membership of the HPHS for lending their support for this project which will be a multi-year effort that will result in oral histories that will be eventually be available for all to research at the Special Collections Research Center in the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago.
It has been a gratifying experience for me to work with this wonderful group of people who are dedicated to the mission of the Hyde Park Historical Society which is: To record and preserve the history of Hyde Park Township.
Kathy Huff, Co-Chair,
Oral History Committee
Hyde Park Historical Society
It is no wonder that faculty members did not want to participate in the Latke-Hamantash Debate as long as it continued to be sponsored by Hillel. The shabby way in which the Chicago Jewish Federation (Hillel’s corporate owner, as they made very clear last spring) summarily fired Hillel’s board — made up of many University of Chicago faculty members and Hyde Park community leaders —has led many in our community to want nothing further to do with Hillel until its local governance is restored.
In the meantime, why should the faculty and this community leave one of its beloved traditions in the hands of outsiders who have shown nothing but disdain for them? The Latke-Hamantash Debate was not canceled; rather, it’s been postponed in order to give time for students and faculty to reorganize it under local sponsorship. This will only strengthen the event.
I’ve been involved with the UChicago Hillel since 1980, including nine years (1999-2008) as a non-faculty member of its governing board and several as treasurer. Although I “timed out” as a board member some four years ago, I remain close to many who were on that board when it was unceremoniously fired by the Federation this spring.
The Hillel board had a long history of concern for the well-being of Jewish life on the University of Chicago campus; for connecting students to Jewish role models, mentors and activities in Hyde Park and beyond; and of effective organizational governance and leadership. The board does not have the reputation of a “rubber stamp” for any executive of the organization, let alone Dan Libenson. When the Federation fired both Libenson and the entire board, it came as a shock to all, especially with its bizarre claims of poor financial management, as those of us who have served on the Hillel board know how hard we have been fighting for so many years to address the Federation’s abysmal financial reporting and poor financial management in the form of cost-allocation, accounting and building management policies that made no sense for Hillel.
The board, which included University of Chicago professors and lay leaders with expertise in all the financial matters at hand, made a reasonable proposal to Federation that it “spin off” Hillel in order to restore its previous status as an independent self-governing organization that could manage its finances appropriately with no future Federation risk of unanticipated financial loss.
So, it is no shock if faculty involved with Hillel at the time felt broadly and deeply insulted when the board was precipitously dismissed by Federation, along with Hillel’s executive director. In my (informed!) view, it is much more likely to be reasonable response to insult, not any “blackmail by Libenson and his cronies” (as speculatively alleged by Dennis Miller in his Letter to the Editor on Dec. 5) that led to the widespread unwillingness among the faculty to participate in this year’s Latke-Hamantash debate. Since most faculty who have participated in the debate in recent decades have no prior history of Hillel involvement, and in fact many have not even been Jewish, it seems clear to me that “blackmail” on this topic, extending comprehensively throughout the faculty, would not be possible and thus cannot explain why Hillel was not able to find the three willing participants necessary to let the show go on.
But, all this focuses on one late detail — the absence of this year’s Latke-Hamantash debate — and leaves aside the more important issue for Hyde Park and the campus Jewish community. The real story is that our Hillel, formerly a local Hyde Park organization, this spring became, essentially, the victim of a hostile takeover by the Chicago Jewish Federation, which is now in control of Hillel’s assets and building (which were given to them a decade ago with the expectation — now breached — that the Federation would allow them to be locally governed through the local board) but lacks any connection to our community. In response, Dan Libenson along with the former (fired) members of the Hillel board, formed jU Chicago, a new, local, student-oriented Jewish organization. It should come as no surprise to anyone informed of the facts and in tune with Hyde Park’s general positive orientation toward locally determined priorities and locally run community organizations that many (faculty and others) find the new organization to have a greater claim to local legitimacy.
A recent letter to the editor calls for the replacement of the Point’s unique limestone buttresses with ugly poured cement revetments, “beautiful for a stroll” “look(s) quite nice”…yech! The already installed cement is unnatural, already crumbling, cracking & breaking in several places.
Meanwhile, our Promontory retains its rustic charm. If there is broken glass and trash, that is the fault of the visitors, not the site. I have loved, visited, picnicked, swam off and walked on the Point for a half century with nary an incident.
Hyde Park is a remarkable mix of liberal and conservative. Liberal in most things political but remarkably conservative when it comes time for any local changes. Consider the Point. In 2001 a vocal group protested the lakefront renovation and successfully blocked the Point’s renewal. Ten years later we have a Point that is the disgrace of Chicago’s lakefront. While almost the entire lakefront has been restored with concrete walkways and new landscaping, beautiful for a stroll, our Point continues to deteriorate, with broken old poured concrete, limestone, vines and broken glass. Walking on it is not only disheartening, but also unsafe. It is a disgrace. It is time for others to speak out and recognize that the rest of the lakefront in fact looks quite nice and we should allow the Point to follow suit. It is time for a local referendum so that the view of the majority are heard.
I was really touched by Sue Purrington’s reminiscent piece, “Memories from a Friend of Harold,” in the Nov. 4, 2012, Hyde Park Herald. It brought tears to my eyes because she captured a time and place and particularly a vivid picture of Harold as she described her own interaction with him. I remember when he shopped in the old Walgreens smiling and speaking when necessary but mostly just trying to blend in.
My husband, Bob Mann, former State Representative from Hyde Park, was an early supporter of Harold in his bid for Congress like some others in Hyde Park. Rebecca Janowitz in the interview in the same edition of the Hyde Park Herald as above, so wisely cited Alan and Lois Dobry who worked endlessly for Harold, using all their incredible political acumen to get the job done.
Harold once sent me a lovely letter apologizing for not attending my birthday party and thanking me for being on his transition team. The letter was really for Bob, he was such a good pol. He also kept in touch with Bob when he was ill, a few others did too, but not many. Harold was one special man, very kind, compassionate, brilliant, a lover of life and Chicago.
I read with interest your piece about the Latke Hamantash debate being postponed. I was surprised that your reporters didn’t get any information as to why this had been postponed, a little poking around would have revealed some startling facts.
The Latke-Hamantash debate has been held each year for the past 60 years, one can only imagine that with the recent firing of Mr. Daniel Libenson and his starting a new Jewish group on campus, there may be some connection.
Indeed this is the case. I have been informed from very reliable sources that faculty were blackmailed by Libenson and his cronies, that they would be siding with the wrong group if they agreed to participate. In fact it was Libenson himself who had booked Mandel Hall for the February date, knowing that they would be unable to get faculty participation for a November debate, in the hopes of usurping the event from Hillel.
There’s more nastiness from Mr. Libenson to this story, but I’ll leave it at that.
I hope that Mr. Libenson can recover from the fact that he was fired from Hillel, without destroying the institutions the community holds dear.
I am a member of the Hyde Park community, and I take a lot of pride in my neighborhood. As a resident of Hyde Park, I have received the blessing of being employed with my cleaning company, Carney Cleaning Service, for both the Hyde Park Produce store and McHugh Construction.
With those blessings, it is very important to me to give back to those who are in need. Hyde Park is a community that shows great unity not just for our neighborhood but the surrounding areas as well. I want to responsibly step up and be a leader in preserving the integrity of our community as well as building up others to be able to humbly show that no matter the issues, we are all able to give a helping hand in some way.
Carney Cleaning Service partnered with Boston Market Restaurant and General Manager Tim Robertson on Thanksgiving to feed the homeless. It was my way of giving back to those who are in need and to a community that has given so much to me. I would like to thank the volunteers from McHugh Construction, Hyde Park residents and the staff from Provident Hospital who served alongside me on Thanksgiving.
Thank you for the piece in the Oct. 24 issue entitled “Interfaith Council hosts lecture series.” I would like to point out that it is not so much a lecture series as a series of open houses at various houses of worship. While the tours include commentary about each venue’s art and architecture, they will also offer a sense of the particular manner or style of worship and historical context for each religious tradition. The idea is to foster appreciation, understanding and respect for various religious traditions and communities.
Not booo! But, hurrah! I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the many people on Harper Avenue between 57th and 59th streets who put so much imagination and effort and money into creating an exciting and unusual “Halloween Center” for Hyde Park. Year after year I send newcomers and visitors there — and they always return full of smiles and cheer and with loads of great pictures.
Farewell to longstanding 4th Ward business and community partner, Village Foods.
Thank you for the generous food and general merchandise donation. It will serve a great cause and be used for our upcoming 4th Ward holiday community events: The Annual Thanksgiving Feed the Needy and The Annual Christmas Food Basket Donations.
Throughout the year but especially during the holidays, we strive to make sure that the seniors, disabled and less fortunate members of our community are able to enjoy a hearty holiday meal. Your donation truly supports our efforts and we are appreciative.
We wish you all the best in future endeavors. You will be missed by the community.