To the Editor:
The recently demolished house at 5314 S Blackstone was one of the oldest houses in Hyde Park, built before 1890, which is before the Columbian Exposition and before the University of Chicago was established.
Community residents in Hyde Park have no active, direct role in what buildings can be demolished nor what they can be replaced with. Therefore the community has no active, direct role in what the community will become. This is especially critical as we see strong redevelopment pressure, rising property values and an increasing population in Hyde Park. Change is inevitable and is potentially beneficial to all in the community. But these changes can go in many different directions, some much less desirable than others. There have already been a number of recent demolitions of significant houses and there are many more demolitions and redevelopments coming our way.
At the moment, demolitions and new construction in Hyde Park are managed only by the City’s permit system — demolition, zoning, and building code. Ald. Hairston has great discretion over these permits. Hyde Park citizens have always taken an active role in shaping our community’s future. Ald. Hairston is an experienced and thoughtful elected official. This would be a wise and ideal time for the community and the alderman to share the leadership responsibility of managing the rapidly accelerating physical changes to our neighborhood.