King vows to set up community panels, improve 4ht Ward infrastructure

Ald. Sophia King (4th) discusses issues with constituents after her April 24 town hall meeting at the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies in Bronzeville. (Photo by Aaron Gettinger)

Staff writer

During her meeting with constituents on April 24, Ald. Sophia King’s (4th) reiterated her intention to establish community advisory committees in the neighborhoods that comprise the 4th Ward, which spans from South Loop south to Nichols Park in Hyde Park.

She said each committee would have subcommittees on issues such as infrastructure, safety and education.

King also said that a new ward website is forthcoming. While she regularly emails out updates, King said she would send out hard-copy newsletters “on a sign-up basis,” explaining that mailing updates throughout the ward would cost $10,000 and be financially unviable.

On infrastructure, King said that smart lighting that alerts authorities when the light goes out is being installed south of 35th Street on both streets and alleys. Cameras have been installed in areas affected by car thefts and disruptive behavior. A beautification-oriented revitalization project is ongoing on Drexel Boulevard.

The budget for the development of a new business trainer space at the Polsky Center, 1452 E. 53rd St., includes a line item for a program director who will work with local high schools, including Kenwood Academy; King also said her office is “looking at totally renovating” Kenwood as was done at Dyett and Dunbar high schools.

King’s office is accepting applications for its summer internship program, open to applicants who are Chicago residents who have completed a quarter or semester of college this spring. The internships pay $13 an hour and run from June 3 to Aug. 9. Applications are due by Wednesday, May 8, at 5 p.m. to A ward job fair is planned for May 22; King said a wide variety of employers will be present, as will employers looking for youth to fill summer jobs.

Legislatively, King said she has introduced an ordinance for a mental health task force to study whether the city should open more clinics, what patients the city should serve, and the costs associated with those initiatives.

She mentioned her vote against using TIF funds for the Lincoln Yards development; she advocates that TIF dollars go towards redeveloping the Michael Reese Hospital site, which she said includes strict guidelines for diversity and small business inclusion.

“I have a philosophical difference with it,” King said of the 78 and Lincoln Yards projects. “I don’t think we should be using subsidies to create communities when we have communities that are suffering in our city.” Meeting attendees applauded.

A follow-up meeting on the Henry McGee Post Office, 4601 S. Cottage Grove Ave., which experienced serious service disruptions over the winter, is scheduled for May 1 at 6 p.m. at the Carruthers Center, 700 E. Oakwood Blvd.