Village Viewpoint by Margot Holland, BAPA Executive Director

October 2017

Dear Neighbors,

Our community never disappoints when it comes to supporting one another. That was evident at our first Sip n’ Shop girls night out event highlighting women owned businesses along the 99th and 103rd street business corridors. Over 200 women came out to support our small business community! It was a magical night because the business owners rolled out the red carpet for the community. Thank you to those who came out to participate and to the businesses that stayed open late and provided a unique experience in their shop.

When owners invest in their small business we all win because local economic development is trademark to a healthy community. Shopping local is something our community does because we know how important these retail and service related businesses are to the vitality of Beverly/Morgan Park.  If you missed the Sip n’ Shop, don’t worry! Local business owners are already preparing for their next big event, the Beverly Art Walk on Sat., Oct. 7, coordinated by the Beverly Area Arts Alliance. Artists and performers will be featured in local businesses and many other venues.  A new dimension his year is the unveiling of the City of Chicago’s public art project for the 19th Ward. BAPA was a part of the committee to choose the public art piece. We love to see all this investment in our neighborhood!

BAPA has been busy working with civic associations preparing for the 30+ trees we will along residential parkways plant in November and advocating for the rehabilitation of the Ridge Park Fieldhouse.  BAPA has been very supportive of the newly formed Ridge Park Advisory Council in reaching out to the Chicago Park District and attending their budget hearing to help shine a light on the disrepair of the Ridge Park Fieldhouse.

For 70 years the Beverly Area Planning Association has been bringing the community together to help spur economic development, increase City services and, more than anything, build a strong sense of community. That is made possible thanks to our members.  We are so lucky to have over 1400 members currently supporting BAPA. We have worked hard to define membership beyond community events and have rolled out the BAPA card and opened the business center and community room, and continue to offer trade referrals and other services.  We hope you will join your neighbors in supporting BAPA through membership. Look for the membership envelope inside this issue of The Villager and please join the BAPA family today!

All the best, Margot

 

 

 

RPAC Campaigns to Save Ridge Park

 
By Mary Jo Viero, President, Ridge Park Advisory Committee

Local organizations and residents have been voicing concern about the condition of the Ridge Park fieldhouse for many years. As the leadership of the Chicago Park District determines its budget for FY18 the rehabilitation of Ridge Park should be the top priority. The fieldhouse is an important part of our community, keeping the building in good repair should be expected. However, severe issues plague the facility including a leaky roof and rotting windows; the building is not ADA accessible; lighting is outdated and inefficient; and the kitchen, gymnasium and auditorium all need significant improvements.

Ridge Park draws over 6000 people annually for programming alone and consistently ranks 3rd among all 580 city parks for program participation. That does not include the 30,000+ people each year who gather at the park for community events like the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk, Ridge Run and Memorial Day Parade.  Additionally, Ridge Park is home to the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association Gallery, a multi-million dollar art collection. Unfortunately, this collection is suffering damage from the leaking roof.

After being pushed back several times, the RPAC was told that work on the roof is supposed to begin in mid-October – if true this is great news for our park and community!  We hope that the park gets the new roof it needs – The RPAC was formed to focus on the restoration and continued maintenance of the field house and the grounds, and we are determined to fight for what Ridge Park deserves.  Sadly, as we all know a new roof is only the beginning and we ask that the community join the RPAC in standing up for Ridge Park.

On Sept. 19, 2017 members of the RPAC and the community (both young and old) gathered together at the Chicago Park District budget hearing to advocate for a complete facility restoration to save Ridge Park!  While we recognize and respect the fact that managing a budget for hundreds of public parks in a large and diverse city is no easy task, and we’re grateful for recent improvements to the Ridge Park baseball fields and tennis courts, we believe major improvements are past due at this community treasure.

Please join us, there is strength in numbers! Demand that the Ridge Park Fieldhouse is treated like the treasure it is.

For information on how you can help, email Mary Jo Viero, mjviero@bapa.org.

Why I’m a BAPA volunteer

By Mallory Fitzpatrick

I’m so glad I signed on with BAPA; I had such a great experience. BAPA’s events are so great for our neighborhood, and it was wonderful to be a part of that. By bringing so many neighbors out into a friendly, welcoming, and fun environment, BAPA really builds that sense of community and support that makes Beverly/Morgan Park such a great place to live. You really don’t realize how much work goes into those events until you’re helping out behind the scenes.

I’ve lived in the neighborhood as long as I can remember, and grew up with events like the Ridge Run and Beverly Hills Cycling Classic. This summer, watching kids dance at Family Fun Nights and seeing the Ridge Run winners cross the finish line first hand hammered home what an amazing place this is. It was so great to have a chance to give back to the community where I have my family roots. Working with BAPA’s board and staff really demonstrated how hard those people work to make our community as incredible as it is. My deepest thanks to BAPA!

Know Your Neighbors: Paula Robinson

By Kristin Boza

Paula Robinson is dedicated to progressing the economic development of her community through her work with the Morgan Park Civic League. Community activism is in her blood; Robinson’s grandmother, Annabelle Robinson, was also an active participant in the Morgan Park Civic League, which has been working to improve and enhance Morgan Park since 1937.

Robinson’s community involvement isn’t limited to Morgan Park. She, and the rest of the Civic League, recognizes the impact each south side neighborhood has on one another. Community groups in West Pullman, Beverly, Bronzeville and others all collaborate to stimulate economic development and address housing and transportation issues throughout the south side.

“It’s not so much that we need to develop a lot of things here; we have a lot to offer,” Robinson said. “We focus on highlighting what we have, making connections and giving people reasons to go. Once they get the invitation to come and experience something, then it opens up a whole other level of what you can do and how you engage with people. If people don’t even know what you’ve got, then it’s not so much that we have to get a lot of new things, but we just need to figure out how to engage the community.”

Promoting the Major Taylor Trail is a big push of Robinson’s — not only to get people to use it, but to encourage companies to open businesses along the trail that runs from the Dan Ryan Woods to Whistler Woods. “On the northwest side of the city, we’ve seen the success of the 606 Trail and what it’s done to bring communities and neighborhoods together. The bike trail is a community asset and spurs more development.”

Outdoor recreation is a great way to connect communities, according to Robinson. “It’s beneficial for the whole well-being, wellness and health of a community as a whole,” she said. The Civic League is also looking for ways to partner with local artists to install art along the path. “With the tie-in with art and culture, these trails can not only be about recreation, but provide a cultural benefit to the community as well,” she said.

Besides the Major Taylor Trail, Robinson and the Morgan Park Civic League always aim to determine how to create action and excitement around things that already exist. The annual Roots Festival, a farmer’s market, and economic development along 111th Street are other focuses for the group. Robinson hopes to get a visitor’s center up and running on 111th Street to alert people going to the Pullman National Monument about other things to do in the area — including grabbing a steak sandwich at the famed Home of the Hoagy, 1316 W. 111th St., and enjoying a cup of coffee at the Old Morgan Park Coffee Shop at 111th and Loomis.

“We have a lot of wonderful history for people to see, a beautiful bike trail and other amenities that are interesting to visitors and residents alike,” Robinson said. “Morgan Park is an older community, and we have to identify new housing and new opportunities to attract younger people who will want to keep our community sustainable.”

To find out more or to get involved, visit the Morgan Park Civic League on Facebook.

BAPA Hosts School Search Seminar for Parents 6th-8th Graders

Attention parents of 6th, 7th and 8th graders: Now it the time to start your search for the right high school. BAPA is here to help. Partnering with Chicago School GPS, the 19th Ward Youth Foundation and the Beverly Arts Center, BAPA will host a seminar designed to help guide parents through the high school selection process on Tues., Aug. 29, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St.

Beverly/Morgan Park families have a lot of choices when it comes to high school. How can you make sure the school you choose is the right fit for your student?

Grace Lee Sawin of Chicago School GPS will demystify the Chicago high school admissions process and help parents navigate the public and private school search journey. Sawin will explain the new GoCPS application process for Chicago Public high schools, provide an overview of the private school admissions process, give guidelines for how to choose a school that is a good fit for your child, explain criteria for various public and private high school programs, offer tips on navigating open houses and high school shadow days, and more.

Chicago School GPS was founded by three Chicago moms who believe that the culture, opportunities and unique setting of Chicago makes it ideal for families, and that academically challenging, emotionally nourishing and culturally diverse options for education are available. Chicago School GPS understands that the search for the right high school can seem overwhelming. Their research covers neighborhood public schools, selective enrollment, magnets, charters, parochial and private schools.

Space is limited and reservations are appreciated; adults only please. Light refreshments will be served. Information and reservations

Village Viewpoint

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It is hard to believe we are heading into the month of August! As we soak up these last bits of summer and prepare for a productive fall and winter calendar of programming and back to school activities, it is also a time to be thankful for all the support that BAPA receives in the spring and summer – please know your attendance at our events and volunteerism are never taken for granted. We are so thankful for this amazing community!

We have had many proud moments over the last month, including the 15th annual Beverly Hills Cycling Classic. Over 3000 people came out to check out the race and sample some brews from area breweries and especially Lagunitas Brewing Company, which contributed over 20 kegs to help BAPA raise funds for our beautification efforts. Other generous breweries were Horse Thief Hollow, Blue Island Beer Co., Argus Brewery, Baderbrau and of course Western Avenue’s newest brewery Open Outcry Brewing Co.! What an amazing show of support of our community – thank you!

Another highlight of the summer is all the investment into the Dan Ryan Woods by the Cook County Forest Preserve in honor of the 100th anniversary of the woods. We are so lucky to have this resource right here in our community. They have lots of family fun planned on Aug. 27, so please mark your calendars; you will not be disappointed!

Also coming up in August, BAPA is excited to host a seminar with an expert on navigating the high school entrance process for both Chicago Public Schools selective enrollment and the private schools. We are lucky to have many options for all levels of education in our neighborhood. Please join us for this free event.  We are also looking forward to a great month of September when BAPA will host a girls night Shop and Sip supporting local women-owned businesses. It should be lots of fun!

Thanks for all your support through BAPA membership and event attendance. See you around the neighborhood enjoying the rest of the summer!

All the best,

Margot

BAPA History: Neighbors Working Together Achieve Good Things

By Tom Hogan, BAPA Past President

My wife, Cathi, and I have lived in our house across from Crescent Park since the summer of 1986. We moved into this home after having lived in the Old Town/Lincoln Park areas during the first years of our marriage. We both spent a good deal of our childhood/teenage years living in different parts of the Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood. As a result, we had a good idea of that we would experience as our family grew.

Our two sons were able to play unsupervised in Crescent Park after they reached an age where they could cross the street by themselves. They had many friends with who they would play in the park after their school day at Clissold or on their days off. This provided them with the opportunity to work out their own differences without too much adult interference. This was much the same way Cathi and I were able to transition through our childhoods.

We first became involved in neighborhood activities in the late 1980s/early 1990s when Cathi joined a group of people who helped guide a long overdue revamp of the Crescent Park playground. That committed band of volunteers spent hours traveling to parks in other neighborhoods and suburbs to gather ideas for Crescent Park. Their efforts led not just to a refreshed play area, but to several lifelong relationships with many great neighbors. This network of people later formed the foundation of the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk.

In the mid-1990s, I joined BAPA’s Board of Directors. At that time, this neighborhood was confronted with working through issues which had been at the forefront since the 1960s: Racial change, home values and school choice. We were also faced with replacing the funding bases BAPA had enjoyed in its earlier years when local financial institutions were bought and moved out of the neighborhood. I served with many great people who didn’t always agree with one another, but who understood that compromise is not always capitulation. We set a path for the organization on all of these issues which, in hindsight, has allowed the work of BAPA to continue and the organization to thrive.

While I was president of BAPA (1998-2001), a group of real estate agents working in the Kennedy Park Civic Association area were telling residents that quick racial change was coming. This panic peddling tactic that had fostered so much white flight in the City during 1960s and 1970s caused quite a bit of concern to all of the Kennedy Park area residents, African American and Caucasian. Working with the civic association, BAPA held a series of meetings in residents’ homes. There was plenty of discussion – some helpful and some not – about what should be done.

BAPA told the real estate agents that we knew what they were doing, and that we would disseminate widely what we knew if they didn’t stop. As a result of neighbors working together on this important issue, the real estate agents did stop. This couldn’t have happened unless the residents had significant trust that BAPA would follow through on its promises.

I know BAPA works best when its objective is clear and those who are executing it trust one another to follow through on its promises. This can only be done when neighborhood residents form alliances with one another, working on smaller projects that form a foundation to benefit the larger community, much like that committed band of Crescent Park volunteers did.

If you like what the current BAPA Board is doing, tell them so. If you don’t like it, get involved yourself and work toward compromise. Together, we the residents of Beverly/Morgan Park can live in the Village in the City.

Ask Roberta

By Roberta Kleinman, BAPA Coordinator of Property Preservation Services

Q: What can I do to correct a major drainage problem that causes my yard and adjoining neighbors’ properties to flood whenever there is a hard rain?

A:  Depending on the type of soil in any particular parcel of land, standing water may remain in a yard for days once the ground becomes completely saturated. When there’s nowhere else for the water to go, it may eventually enter your basement through cracks in the foundation. Fortunately, many major drainage problems caused by extended rainfall, including those severe enough to impact multiple properties, can be corrected given the right professional assistance.

Surface drainage issues will become of increasing concern in the years to come as area homeowners are strongly encouraged to disconnect their downspouts from the city sewer system.  In older neighborhoods such as ours, for years homes were built so that water runoff from roofs was directed into the sewers. This practice is no longer permitted because of the municipal expense of processing all that extra rain water.  The city of Chicago and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District have distributed rain barrels to residents as a way to incentivize homeowners to disconnect their downspouts, but what happens when it rains long enough and hard enough that your rain barrels fill up and overflow onto your already saturated lawn?

Enter a non-profit Chicago-based organization named the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), which provides Chicago residents with helpful advice on how to install green solutions to absorb the water in an environmentally friendly way.  Check out the portions of their website that deal with urban flooding mitigation and their RainReady initiative at www.cnt.org. CNT’s mission is to develop “policies and practices that help residents and entire communities plan for weather events associated with global climate change.”

The City of Chicago and other municipalities partner with CNT to solve persistent local flooding problems.  One solution BAPA has directly benefited from was replacing the blacktop pavement in its parking lot with permeable paving stones that allow rainwater to be absorbed by the soil underneath rather than winding up in the city sewer system.

For extreme volumes of standing water, CNT may recommend installation of a Naturalized Detention Basin, which offers a real possibility of providing simultaneous relief to multiple adjacent residential parcels.

For homeowners who don’t have extreme drainage problems the solution could be as simple as installing a French drain or two. Use the services of a professional contractor or consider doing the work yourself with the help of good instructions.  Acceptable drainage solutions do not entail redirecting standing water onto a neighbor’s property.  Also, remember to check for underground utilities by calling the Chicago Excavation Alert Line (the “Digger Hotline”) at 312-744-7000 at least 48 hours before beginning any excavation.  If digging strictly on your own private property, no city permit is required.

Disclaimer: Opinions presented here are the author’s alone, and may not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Beverly Area Planning Association. Be advised that the author of this column is not a licensed attorney. The information contained in this article is general in nature and is not intended to, and should not, be relied upon by you, the reader, as personal legal advice or a legal opinion concerning your particular situation. The information also may not necessarily reflect the most current statutory or municipal code developments. You should always seek assistance from a qualified legal professional and/or other knowledgeable real estate experts when dealing with matters affecting your residential property.

Send your question for Roberta to rkleinman@bapa.org.

 

 

Village Viewpoint – July

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Happy summer and cheers to a wonderful and safe 4th of July holiday! Well, there is no rest for BAPA as we charge on through the summer bringing the community together with lots of fun filled events supporting local businesses. We hope you were able to enjoy some of our popular Family Fun Nights held throughout the month of June. Now on to the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic, Bikes and Brews on July 14. We have secured plenty of beer from local breweries and a variety of food trucks. Enjoy all the races — No lines, no waiting – I promise!

As you know, Beverly/Morgan Park families have enjoyed a stable integrated community for many decades. While BAPA has no reason to think that would change, responding to situations that may undermine the stability of our community is BAPA’s job. Over the past few weeks, BAPA has received several calls from neighborhood residents reporting real estate solicitation from multiple sources. BAPA’s long-held position, and that of most fair housing groups, is that any type of unsolicited contacts by real estate sales agents inviting owners to sell their homes can create alarm, given the history of unscrupulous real estate practices that caused the rapid racial change of neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago.

It has been BAPA’s experience that a solicitation from one realtor may not disturb a homeowner, but multiple solicitations, even if nothing is said that could be construed as panic peddling, can have the effect of panic peddling in a neighborhood that is racially diverse. Real estate solicitation is not illegal, but it is not encouraged. Unsolicited communications that offer to buy a home “as is,” ask “if you knew what your home was worth would you sell?” or encourage you to “call NOW” can undermine a homeowner’s faith in the stability of a neighborhood.

As neighbors report incidents of solicitation, BAPA is contacting the companies with a request that they not continue this kind of marketing. If you receive a real estate solicitation on postcard, phone call, email or business card in your door, please notify BAPA at 773-233-3100 or mholland@bapa.org, and provide the company name and contact info, a summary of the content and, if possible, a copy of the solicitation.

If you are planning to sell your home or purchase a home in the community, BAPA recommends you work with a local real estate company staffed by community residents who can offer expert information on local home values and market trends, and professional services that will benefit you as a buyer or seller. Thank you for attention to this important issue.

All the Best,

Margot

 

 

Investing in Success: Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

By Kristin Boza

Beverly/Morgan Park’s business community is growing in extraordinary ways, giving us places to shop and dine, and investing in our neighborhood. With these investments, expansions and enhancements, the commercial landscape is improving every day. Neighborhood residents can do their part to support these businesses by putting their money where their heart is: right back into our own neighborhood.

“With the ease of online shopping, a brick and mortar business must provide a needed product and also a positive shopping experience,” BAPA board president Maureen Gainer Reilly said. “When businesses invest in their property, staff and product, it directly affects their bottom line.”

Gainer Reilly also notes that area residents must make the choice to support the businesses that make our neighborhood a home. “I often hear South Siders lament that we need more shops and restaurants. But for that to happen, we need to make the ones here a smashing success!” she said. “The next potential business owner sees the support for existing businesses and decides to open that cool new shop, cafe or restaurant. Plus, the math works. For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $70 stays local. But that drops to $40 for every $100 spent at a national chain.”

Local businesses not only pour money into the local economy through sales, but as employers. As Gainer Reilly points out, small businesses are more likely to hire local people.

Here are some of the local businesses that are not just opening up shop, they’re investing heavily in our neighborhood.

Bookie’s Moves to Western Avenue

Bookie’s owner Keith Lewis desperately needed to expand shelf space in his popular new and used bookstore.  He scouted properties for a year before deciding on 10324 S. Western, formerly occupied by two businesses.

“The spaces were separated and I found out that they were only combinable with a doorway, as there was a brick wall between the two storefronts. This wouldn’t be a perfect situation for most stores; however, for me, a wall means more wall bookshelves,” Lewis said. He worked with a bookstore shelving company to optimize the space. “We also made sure that the fixtures are all spaced out enough to make the whole store wheelchair accessible.”

Sharing a quote from Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” Lewis best explains his desire to make Bookie’s better than ever: “What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.”

“I want this community to have a great bookstore,” Lewis said. “A bookstore can be a place that sells books, or it can be a place that sells books, promotes literacy, and gets involved in the community. I want to be the latter. I want Bookie’s to help grow the neighborhood and be a destination bookstore, one to which people will travel to shop.”

By taking a risk and investing in the community, Lewis hopes the community will respond in kind. “We have a lot of people who shop local, but there aren’t enough. There needs to be a concerted effort to invest in the community. Good, strong small businesses need to strive alongside various corporate entities, and it will take the people who live here to make that happen,” he said.

Open Outcry Brewing Co. on Tap

The buzz about Open Outcry is reaching a fever pitch, and owner John Brand is anxious to open its doors. Brand always wanted his own business and decided Beverly/Morgan Park was the place. “I think this is an amazing neighborhood and I don’t think there’s too many places that are still like this with our sense of community and pride,” Brand said. “The support and encouragement I’ve gotten has been pretty humbling, and I saw a good investment opportunity too. If I invest all this money, it’d better be in the neighborhood where I live and raise my children.”

Before moving here, Brand and his family lived downtown. They missed being able to load up their kids in the stroller and walk to eating options. Open Outcry will be a family-friendly destination. “I really wanted a place where it seemed socially acceptable to bring kids; our chef is even creating a kid’s menu,” he said.

Brand is also teaming up with other local businesses to offer workout classes (with Beverly Barre), terrarium building (with The Geranium Guild), a book club (with Bookie’s and the Beverly Arts Center), and a running club end point (with Running Excels).

“Small, locally owned businesses add to the vibrancy and viability of any neighborhood,” Brand said. “You have folks investing in their community and we try very hard to understand what the community is asking for and then deliver it to them. There’s no way a big box or chain is able to deliver on that.”

Tranquility Salon Co. Infuses Creativity into Walden Parkway

As the anchor of Walden Parkway, Tranquility Salon Co. has continuously contributed to the unique atmosphere found in the picturesque area. Meg’n Barba and Katie Schickel are co-owners of the salon.

“The two factors that we owe our continual success to are reinvesting and reinventing,” Barba said. “The salon is a platform for us to understand what people want to see in our neighborhood. Walden Parkway is a really cool nook, a hidden gem.”

When The Blossom Boys closed their business, Barba and Schickel were immediately interested in what would go into the space, ultimately deciding to take it on as an extension of their salon. “If you don’t keep evolving with what’s new and what people see going on in other places, people won’t stay here,” Barba said. “Our investment is seeing to it that the potential [of our block] becomes a reality. We want this block to evolve and cater to the neighborhood and bring things that people want and will use.”

Barba intends for the shop to be an open ended creative space. So far, Tranquility has hosted two music events under their Beverly Music Initiative’s Backyard Project. “We wanted to get the ball rolling to shine a light on great musicians — both local and beyond — and bring it right to our neighborhood. It’s the perfect setting to bring people together in a common place that is not a bar,” Barba said. “We wanted to provide a space for the neighborhood to have good music and try to raise money to turn our backyard into a sustainable venue.”

Barba is set on making Tranquility about more than just hair. “It’s not just a salon to us, we want to create greater ways to bring people together in our space. You don’t necessarily need to come here as a client, but you can still be a part of it,” she said.

Details are pending, but Tranquility plans to host the High Point Festival as part of a community-wide bike ride on July 29. The party will include a live concert in the backyard.

99th and Walden has undergone a lot of changes. B-Sides Coffee + Tea will open in August at 9907 S. Walden. Sweet Freaks, another Walden Parkway staple, moved to 9927 S. Wood St. to expand their offerings and produce all of their goods on site. Replacing Sweet Freaks on Walden is Capsule, a clothing store expected to open in September.