Letters to the Editor

Garden Fair is around the corner

To the Editor:

The 55th annual Hyde Park Garden Fair takes place on Friday, May 16, and Saturday, May 17, at the Hyde Park Shopping Center, 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue. Look for our ad in the May 14 Herald.
You’ll find thousands of plants: annuals, perennials, container plants, hanging baskets, shrubs, vines and roses, ground covers, wildflowers, houseplants, vegetables and herbs. Experienced members of the Garden Fair Committee select plants from trusted and innovative regional growers and nurseries. At the fair, the members can offer expert advice about selection, planting and cultivation. The Resource Center will offer mulch and compost for sale to complement your plant purchases. The Center’s truck will be located in the small parking lot just north of Treasure Island.

The Garden Fair Committee supports gardening in our neighborhood through grants to community gardening projects, donations of plants and maintenance of public gardens.

The proceeds of the fair also support the activities of the Hyde Park/Kenwood Community Conference, hydepark.org, the Garden Fair’s parent organization, dedicated to maintaining and enhancing an attractive, secure, diverse and caring community, through a variety of public programs and initiatives.

Jane Ciacci

The vicissitudes of modern living

To the Editor:

We write regarding our sense of frustration with the ATT/Dex “neighborhood” telephone directory for the Hyde Park and Bronzeville communities. In previous years, it was a convenient and vital resource for subscribers to use for finding local residential telephone numbers and addresses. Like a small town directory, it gave us the advantage of larger print, an antidote for the almost microscopic type used in the Chicago city residential directory.

Sadly, as of August, 2013, the most useful feature was eliminated in an apparent economic move. We realize that some people no longer use landlines, but there are still many of us who do. Now, all of the residential listing are stripped, making the directory strictly one for business and professional listings. The book is therefore much less useful. This is a disservice to many of us, especially seniors, who can barely make out the words in the city directory.

We call on the Herald, community organizations and fellow citizens to protest this development and let ATT and Dex know before the next edition about our concern. We hope the next directory will be more useful to all of us.

Charles and Joan Staples

Permit parking will only lead to trouble

To the Editor:

The petition for permit parking on S. South Shore Drive between 54th and 55th streets is disappointing news to those of us who have been parking on that street for decades now. We who live on South Hyde Park Boulevard, East 54th Street and Cornell Avenue rely on those spots for our nightly parking, which are competitive as it is, so to lose these spots for the interests of residents from two buildings and East View Park is a major blow to our chances of finding a parking spot anywhere near our residences. The need for security is the reason given for this petition, but the result will be numerous and, surely empty, spots for a privileged group overnight, and the argument fails scrutiny. Security is a function of our police carrying out their duties and responsibilities, and folks who come here to hang out in the evening will find other ways to reach the park. Plus, undesirable events can occur before 11 p.m., the time when the permits start. The alderman says she is obliged by city ordinance to grant these residents their request. But this street is not a typical residential street. It is a major thoroughfare, does not have rows of homes right on the curb and is used by the CTA, delivery and repair trucks and numerous cars. Plus, it borders park district property on its east side. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to conclude that residential permit parking should not be applied in this instance? Or, at best, the parking spots from the Shoreland to the 5490 building could be permitted, but certainly not the entire street down to 54th! If this happens, there will be a lot of unhappy folks.

Rudolph Gartner

Praise for help from the U. of C.

To the Editor:

I have run a small business in Hyde Park for the past five years, the Hyde Park Print Shop. I am thankful for this opportunity to live my dream. Recently, though, I had to close up business on 53rd Street not merely due to the change in ownership of the property I occupied but also due to the economic times of the past year. The new owner, the University of Chicago, had a vision for the property that would need it to become vacant so that they could invest the capital into it that has been long overdue. I understood this as they began communication early on and made information very accessible to me as they moved forward with their ownership.

As I looked for another site to reopen in Hyde Park, I received the type of support from the University of Chicago one could only hope for. Through its real estate department they not only assisted in locating other possible locations, but also with lease negotiations, advertisement of my services and a revised business plan, as well as other financial planning that I would never have had access to if not for them.

Since then, I have found out I am not as “special” as I thought. When it comes to small businesses in Hyde Park, this is the norm, not the exception, when it comes to the university. From procurement of goods and services to providing small business services, the U. of C. goes far and beyond for local business.

Although I am no longer on 53rd Street, I am still in business and I have the University of Chicago to thank for this. Hyde Park’s history is a long and storied history; the commitment by the U. of C. to the local retailers and community at large is both encouraging and exciting from the view of this small business owner as I look to the future.

Imanuel “Manny” Basley
Hyde Park Print Lounge

Headline distorts truth at Augustana

To the Editor:

Augustana Lutheran Church told the Hyde Park Suzuki Institute on Jan. 18 that they would have to leave by Aug. 16. That is six months’ notice. Hardly an “abrupt eviction.” The sub-headline, “After abrupt eviction from Augustana, small musicians seek home,” on the front page of your paper, mis-characterizes the decision made by Augustana’s council. One would think you wanted to make the church look bad, when in fact, as your article points out, the decision is likely to be in the best interests of both parties. This is not good journalism.

Bruce Tammen
Augustana Lutheran Church

Join Jackson Park cleanup for the Earth

To the Editor:

Saturday, April 26, the Jackson Park Advisory Council is participating in the 25th annual Earth Day park clean up sponsored by Friends of the Park. JPAC invites all neighbors to join them at 9 a.m. at either the 57th Street Beach or  the 63rd Street Beach to clean up the plastic bags,  cans, bottles and debris left on the beaches by the winter’s storms and beach visitors. Earth Day T-shirts and goodies will be given to volunteers as long as they last, so come early. Families are welcome. Children can enjoy being with their parents and friends cleaning up the lakefront while enjoying a few hours at the beach.

Around the world, Earth Day is being celebrated in some creative ways. The Earth Day Network and Forest Nation are joining forces to provide fast growing tree kits for students to sell as fundraising projects instead of the usual candy and popcorn. The kit is then used in impoverished nations to plant fast growing trees to improve the economy and ecology of the impoverished community. Around the world, 260 universities in 42 nations are taking part in “Mobilize U” matching world college students with ecology cleanup projects in their communities. Many libraries are participating in a program called “Reading for the Earth” promoting environmental literacy for children.

Throughout Chicago and the suburbs, Friends of the Park has Earth Day clean up sites in parks and preserves. Volunteers are still needed. You can sign up by going to fotp.org and clicking on “Earth Day” or come at 9 a.m. on April 26 to one of the designated Earth Day sites. You will be glad you did your part to clean up the Earth.

Louise McCurry

Bring Star Wars museum to Hyde Park

To the Editor:

After reading the recent article and the editorial in the Sun Times relating to locating the Lucas Museum in Chicago, I believe it would be a great idea.

I suggest that the committee should consider the property located just west of Stony Island Avenue between 59th Street, 60th Street and the Metra railroad tracks. The property is an extension of Jackson Park and is seldom utilized by anyone and is frequently flooded. I believe it is approximately 120,000 in square footage.

If the amount of land is not of sufficient size there is additional land just south of 60th Street between Stony Island Avenue and the Metra railroad tracks that could be utilized. This land is currently owned by the University of Chicago and is being utilized as a parking lot and green space.

This location is very close to the Museum of Science and Industry, and the new University of Chicago Lab School and can easily be reached via Lake Shore Drive and the Metra system. The 59th Street Metra station is scheduled for a major upgrade in the near future.

The Lucas Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry would compliment each other by their close proximity.

Michael W. Hoke

Burns not steady in support for schools

To the Editor:

How interesting to hear Ald. Will Burns (4th) waxing eloquently about the disruptiveness of school closures (“Canter site could help Kenwood,” April 16, 2014 Herald). While he says, “the Board of Education phased out Canter,” he was in fact a silent partner. His reluctant support for a phase out instead of outright closure came late and only after tremendous pressure from the community.

When proposed school closings were announced, several parents, LSC representatives, and public school advocates met with the alderman to ask for his support in keeping our public schools open. We were astounded to hear him explain why Canter should close, as he outlined plans for other specific schools in the 4th ward, even though he had had little interaction with the parents or LSC members.

Now he tells us he backs a plan to move Kenwood’s Academic Center into the Canter building. While that is one plan that should be on the table, any plan needs to come from a community process in which the needs of all children in all the schools are considered.

As the alderman is heading up a process that allegedly seeks community input for the best use of the building, we need assurance he will work with the broader community -and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) – to discuss what is best for all of Hyde Park and not just the schools he cherry picks.

Joy Clendenning
Debra Hass
Hannah Hayes
Elizabeth Herring
Stacza Lipinski
Victoria Long

Taste of Hyde Park has another successful year

To the Editor:

The Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project’s major annual fundraising event, the Taste of Hyde Park, held earlier this month, was again a success, raising slightly more than $10,000 after expenses. More than 100 members and friends of HPTHP enjoyed the opportunity to sample food from 17 area restaurants and other food and drink establishments, while socializing and being soothed by the wonderful piano artistry of Willie Pickens. There was also the opportunity to bid on 60 silent auction items, mainly personal services, gift certificates and tickets donated by local businesses. Attendees are had the opportunity to view the premier of a video about the organization’s work. The event, held on April 5, was hosted by Church of St. Paul and the Redeemer.

We appreciate the support of our corporate sponsors Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, Hyde Park Bank and the United Church of Hyde Park.
The food sampled by those attending was marked as to which restaurant or other establishment had donated the particular food, foods or drink. The contributing establishments included, in alphabetical order: Bar Louie, Cedars, Cholie’s Pizza, DeRice, Hyde Park Café, Hyde Park Produce, Kimbark Beverage, Maravilla’s, Medici, Norman’s Bistro, Rajun Cajun, Salonica, Seven Ten Lanes, Siam, Snail, The Sit Down Café and Uncle Joe’s Jerk Chicken. Please try to patronize some of our contributing restaurants and other food and drink establishments during the balance of 2014.

Along with the great food and music, the Taste of Hyde Park included a silent auction, where those attending could bid on tickets to events, gift certificates, services, and donated items. We thank all those who donated items that were included in the silent auction and also those who found things of value to them and outbid any other interested bidders.

Thanks are also due to the members of the HPTHP Board who contributed their energies to make this event a success and to the numerous other volunteers who helped make this event go smoothly.

Allan J. Lindrup
HPTHP Trustee for Fundraising and Chair
Taste of Hyde Park

Canter site could help Kenwood

To the Editor:

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.

Ald. Will Burns (4th)

Permit parking plans disappointing

To the Editor:

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.

Judy Jakush

MAC demolition shows wantonness

To the Editor:

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.

Stephanie Franklin

MAC’s sad moves

To the Editor:

Well, MAC Properties certainly didn’t wait around for permission to knock down these townhouses with the lovely facades.

Be sure to look behind the demolition at the contiguous parking lot reserved for Picadilly married student housing owned by the University of Chicago. Hmm! What is next?

Nancy B. Baum

MAC’s promises cannot be trusted

To the Editor:

Promises made. Promises broken.

MAC promised to build its City Hyde Park without a public subsidy, and then asked for and got TIF money.

MAC promised to restore the historic 1890s greystones at 5110 S. Harper Ave., and then tore them down for a parking lot.

MAC’s promises aren’t worth much.

Debra Hammond

Our history is shamed by teardowns

To the Editor:

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.

Sam Guard