BAPA History: ‘Beverly Now’ Leads to BAPA Reorganization

By L. Patrick “Pat” Stanton

The summer of 1971 marked the change of BAPA from a reactive to a proactive role in the Beverly/Morgan Park community. Because of my role in that change in the form of my plan called Beverly Now, I was asked to summarize the event the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Beverly Area Planning Association.

First, recognize the importance of two related events. The Chicago City Council had approved the removal of the historic ban in residential deeds which had prevented the sale of a home to African-Americans. As a result, much of the South Side had changed racially, always on a block-by block basis, in response to pressure from “blockbusting” real estate sales people. Real Estate Research Corporation, highly- respected in urban research, had already forecast complete racial change within five years in both North Beverly and South Morgan Park and the balance of the community in ten years. Nevertheless, there was no discussion in churches or local media about the likelihood of racial change in Beverly/Morgan Park.

The other significant change was in the Catholic Church, through the influence of

Pope John. Activism by laity and young clergy was permitted, and in some cases like Christ the King in North Beverly encouraged. Christ the King had young activist priests and a structure including a Parish Council and a variety of committees.

But where did Beverly Now fit in?

In my personal frustration with this “head in the sand” failure to address impending integration, I penned a ten-page letter to the officers of my North Beverly neighborhood association, Beverly Improvement Association (BIA). In the letter I suggested addressing the subject with a new umbrella organization headed by a professional director, a community-wide organization accepting the inevitability of integration but not re-segregation. Their response was polite, but my proposal they saw as way beyond the scope of the organization, nor did they suggest I take it further.

Remember my reference to activism at Christ the King parish. Its Community

Relations Committee, of which I was a member, had successfully conducted an

Anti-Real Estate Solicitation sign-up within the parish. Trudi Dressel, the Committee chair, lamented to me that to really make a difference we needed a plan aimed at the entire community. Because I had the outline of such a plan in my letter to BIA, I offered to prepare one.

The result: a 20-page magic marker flip chart proposal which I called Beverly Now to stress its urgency. The proposal recommended coordinated programs in four areas: public relations, area-wide education, control of real estate practices and planned business activity. Also, it specifically called for showing homes to black buyers throughout the community and not next to an already integrated block.

Coordinating the activities would be an umbrella organization with a suggested annual budget of $75.000, headed by an executive director with a background in public relations who could inspire and organize an “army of volunteers.”

Then came the clincher: I asked that not only that Christ the King parish endorse Beverly Now, but also pledge $15,000 of parish funds toward its initial setup. The Council gave its approval with the caveat that the entire parish be exposed to the plan first.

Therefore, on the weekend of July 11 and 12, 1971, instead of a pastoral homily, I delivered the Beverly Now proposal from the Christ the King Church’s marble pulpit (since removed.)

As I spoke, the pages from my presentation were flashed on a large screen on the altar prepared by Fr. Jim Quirk, a young assistant. Despite the format and the controversial subject matter, at each mass the congregation burst into applause, a rare response then. A few days later the Christ the King Council approved the pledge.

Over the next couple weeks I was invited to make the Beverly Now presentation to several civic, church and synagogue groups, always well-received with implied eventual financial support. Then about July 25, I received a call from Arthur Baer, asking for a meeting. Arthur was president of Beverly Bank, then an independent bank at 103rd and Vincennes, and the leading citizen of the community. Without him and his wife Alice, neither Beverly Arts Center nor Ridge Historical Society would likely exist.

At our meeting, Arthur immediately concurred with the need for a new umbrella organization focused on impending change and broader community matters. Could BAPA – then an organization that focused on issues such as zoning and beautification — provide that structure in a different format? We agreed that rebuilding an existing organization, particularly one already fairly representative, would be expeditious and have greater acceptability.

With Arthur Baer’s blessing, progress was startling.

On August 4, 1971 over 200 influential residents were invited to a meeting at the Beverly Art Center, where I was invited to give my last presentation of Beverly Now. Then Bob Seward, BAPA’s president, spoke announcing that BAPA would be re-structured to become a broad-based umbrella organization with much wider representation on its Board of Directors. A professional staff would be hired, and the organization would address the issues raised by Beverly Now.

Within a few weeks money was pledged by various institutions, mostly financial, to fund the new BAPA. Also, ten new more representative directors were elected including two women (a first), two clergymen– a minister and a priest — (both a first) and me.

Seventeen chairs were appointed of mostly new committees. As an example of community enthusiasm, the Public Relations Committee, of which I was chair, had 16 well-qualified members at its first meeting in December and it grew. Most important, by February after a nation-wide search G. Phillip Dolan was hard at work as BAPA Executive Director.

In retrospect, I say those three weeks in the summer of 1971 were truly a re-birth for BAPA. We are especially grateful for the five special people – Trudi Dressel, Fr. Ed Myers, Arthur Baer, Bob Seward and Phil Dolan. Each played a special role in our being able to celebrate BAPA’s 70 years.

Let us also celebrate their lives as we enjoy their legacy.

 

 

Village Viewpoint: Celebrating Irish Heritage and BAPA’s 70th Anniversary

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Wow, time is flying by! It is already March, a very special time in our neighborhood when we celebrate the Irish heritage of so many who have lived in this area for generations – but you don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in this neighborhood! The South Side Irish Parade Committee has put together another great parade for every neighbor to enjoy on Sunday March 12 along Western Ave.

For 70 years the Beverly Area Planning Association has been organizing community around economic development, housing, safety and schools and today is no different. Community organizing is all about building grassroots support. It’s about identifying the people around you with whom you can create a common, passionate cause. That is why we spend so much time and energy supporting our civic associations and recently park advisory councils.

In recent weeks neighbors who frequent Kennedy Park and Ridge Park have formed advisory councils. The members of these councils are advocates for the community and work with park staff to ensure quality programming for our community as well as apply for grants to support facilities. These groups are volunteer their time to make all of our experience at these public spaces even better. Kennedy Park recently launched a Go Fund Me page to purchase new chairs for the pool deck and Ridge Park is hosting a painting party to continue to highlight it as not only a gymnasium but also a cultural center – home to the Vanderpoel Art Collection.

We are so lucky to have an engaged community willing to put it he time and effort it takes to make sure our community is beautiful for another 70 years.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day,

Margot

Ask Roberta: Keep a Watchful Eye on Your Property Tax Bills

By Roberta Kleinman, BAPA Property Preservation

Q: My property taxes are paid through my mortgage lender. Should I been monitoring how these important bulls are paid?

A. The first of two installments of Cook County property taxes for the 2016 tax year was due on Mar. 1, which makes the subject a timely one for this month’s edition of The Villager. The subject of property taxes in the County of Cook can be a bit confusing. Here in Cook Country residential property taxes are billed in two semi-annual installments,, during the calendar year following the tax year to which the taxes pertain.

Since the majority of homeowners who have mortgages on their properties pay their property taxes indirectly through escrow accounts maintained by their mortgage lenders, and therefore may not even see their tax bills, it might be tempting for many homeowners to forget about their property tax bills. But it would be a mistake for several reasons not to review your bill to ensure the taxes are paid up to date and properly credited by each due date to the correct Property Index Number (PIN) for your residence, since errors have been known to occur when a third party handles these payments on a resident’s behalf.

Such errors may include a failure to make the payment, under- or over-payment of the amount due, misapplication of a payment to the wrong PIN, failure to receive all the property tax exemptions to which a homeowner is entitled, and failure to file a timely appeal challenging the assessed valuation assigned to the property by the Cook County Assessor during the triennial reassessment cycle or the two calendar years between such cycles.

Late payments incur stiff interest penalties of 1.5% per month, and a failure to pay two sequential property tax installments will trigger a tax sale that could eventually cost you your home, and at minimum could add hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, to the total amount of your property tax arrears.

If your mortgage lender doesn’t provide you with a copy of your paid tax bill, a duplicate can be requested from the office of Maria Pappas, Cook County Treasurer, by calling 312-443-5100. Also, as a public service, the Cook County Treasurer now allows each property owner to make an online property tax payment, or check the status of his/her tax payment, by visiting cookcountytreasurer.com/payment.

To take advantage of the online payment feature, you must pay your own property taxes (i.e., not have your property taxes escrowed through a mortgage lender,) in which case you may have the payment deducted directly from a checking or savings account or charged to a debit or credit card right up to the last day the tax is due, a great option for chronic procrastinators.

All online payments are subject to a convenience fee that varies depending on the payment method selected, but can be a time-saving alternative to mailing in a payment or standing in a long line at one of the County’s satellite service centers or a Chase Bank branch, the Cook County Treasurer’s designated property tax collection agency.

Taxpayers with access to email may now request to receive electronic tax bills in lieu of mailed paper bills. To sign up, visit cookcountytreasurer.com/signupforelectronicbilling. You will need the PIN number of the property, which appears on your tax bill or may be obtained by visiting cookcountytreasurer.com/locatingyourpin.

Besides appealing one’s assessment in the hope of reducing the amount of property taxes owed in a given year, the second most important way to save money on property taxes is to ensure you are receiving all the exemptions and credits to which you are entitled. If you live in a home in Cook County and it is your primary residence, you should only have to apply once to begin receiving the Homeowner’s Exemption on every future tax bill. However, there are a number of other countywide and state programs that offer property tax reduction opportunities for which you may qualify, each with its own separate rules and restrictions. For more information, visit cookcountytreasurer.com/exemptions. I plan to write in greater depth about the process of appealing one’s property taxes and claiming appropriate property tax exemptions in a future Villager article.

Village Viewpoint: Working Together for a Great Community

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Well, I was hopeful that after the contentious presidential election my Facebook newsfeed would go back to focusing on cute pictures of kids and fuzzy animals and that the traditionally cold weather would compel crime to let up, allowing the Chicago Police Department time to regroup and address the growing crime rate on the south and west sides of our City. No such luck.

I, like you, have been especially concerned about incidents that took place in our neighborhood from shots fired on New Year’s Day to hateful graffiti found on residential and church property. These crimes are unacceptable. We at BAPA condemn these acts of violence and hatred that happened in our neighborhood. We are proud to be part of an integrated, family-oriented community, and we believe that we can find a way to come together as a community and curtail this unacceptable behavior.

Over the last several weeks, members of the BAPA staff and Board of Directors, civic leaders, the alderman’s office and the 22nd District Police have been discussing the safety of our community and how, in the current climate in Chicago, Beverly/Morgan Park can remain safe.  WARNING: It requires your participation!

We need you to engage in keeping our community strong and safe by doing these simple things: don’t be a bystander and don’t be afraid to call the police – they are ready and willing to be here on our streets protecting us!

BAPA has been working with you – our community — to preserve and improve the Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood for more than 70 years. Our mission is to sustain and enhance our safe, culturally diverse community. We do that with proactive, effective programs that unify residents, institutions and businesses around the common cause of nurturing Chicago’s best neighborhood.

Thank you for all you do to support BAPA and our neighborhood!

All the best,

Margot

By Mary Jo Viero

January 15 marked my one year anniversary as a staff member at BAPA. When I think about what happened over the last year, I am overwhelmed. I have met so many nice people, worked with business owners that I now know by name, experienced all of the events that BAPA hosted and witnessed the incredible community spirit of Beverly/Morgan Park.

One of the best aspects of being BAPA’s community organizer is that I am constantly meeting new people. It’s exciting, fun and interesting. One of my tasks is to revitalize our civic and homeowner associations. These are the smaller groups within the larger BAPA service area. They organize and work within their boundaries to formally or informally try to improve the quality of life in their area. They build relationships with their neighbors, create a unified voice, work together on projects and problem-solve. Over the course of the year I realized how important these groups are to our larger community. Each area has its own unique personality and a unique set of priorities and concerns. I met with the amazing and dedicated people who work with the BIA (Beverly Improvement Association), SWMPCA (Southwest Morgan Park Civic Association), WBCA (West Beverly Civic Association), BRHA (Beverly Ridge Homeowners Association), VIA (Vanderpoel Improvement Association), EBA (East Beverly Association) and CPCA (Crescent Park Civic Association). These are vibrant community organizations that host regular meetings and events, and work hard to improve their neighborhood.

I tried but had a hard time getting neighbors involved from SWBIA (Southwest Beverly Improvement Association), CAMP (Civic Association for Morgan Park), KPHA (Kennedy Park Homeowners Association), and the OMPCA (Old Morgan Park Civic Association) areas. I hope if you live in one of these areas, you will call me to ask how to get involved.

The more vibrant and effective our associations are, the more vibrant and effective our entire community will be. BAPA serves as the umbrella to all of these organizations. I want to try to get them talking, and sharing ideas, discussing their challenges and their successes. Most of all, I want these groups to empower themselves and each other.

Our first meeting for 2017 for all of the civic associations was in January. Even though it was pouring rain, amazing people from all corners of our community showed up. One of our main topics of discussion was how we can bring more of our neighbors to the table. My feeling is that we all have something that we are passionate about. If we can engage people by offering ways to tap into those passions, we will all be better. If someone loves to garden or loves trees, they can get involved with tree grants or weeding Wednesdays. If someone is concerned about safety, they can attend their CAPS meetings and reach out to BAPA to help find solutions. For some, being social and planning activities makes them happy. There are endless opportunities to be involved with community events.

The point is, we need you. We need all of you.

You don’t have to come to every meeting, but if you can give a few hours of your time and exercise your passion, it will benefit you and the entire community.

I know that for me, the more I get involved the more I love where I live.

For more information, contact me at 773-233-3100, mjviero@bapa.org.

‘Citizens Are Our First Responders’

By Grace Kuikman

Calling 9-1-1 Makes Communities Safer

“Citizens are really the first responders,” said Sherrie Wright, Chicago Police Communications Officer 2, 9-1-1 Training Division (pictured). “Community involvement is key to community safety.”

Wright has ten years of experience as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, the last 2½ as a trainer. She recommend that people trust their instincts and call 9-1-1, even if they’re not sure they should. “This is your every day life,” Wright said, explaining that residents know what’s normal where they live.  “Err on the side of caution.” And don’t assume someone else is calling.

Some examples of suspicious activity that should be called in to 9-1-1 are people lingering on the block, looking into doorways or windows, checking doors on homes or cars.

The Police would rather get a call and find out it’s not a problem than miss the chance to respond to an issue that could escalate or put people or property in harm’s way. The police will use all of the information you provide and respond with the appropriate resources, Wright explained. They want to hear from you.

Keeping Communities Safe

Calling 9-1-1 is not just about reacting to crime, it’s about keeping safe communities safe and preventing crime. Criminals prefer targeting areas where people aren’t watching and calling police. Nosey neighbors are best neighbors.

9-1-1 calls are important tracking tools that help police uncover crime trends and allocate resources. According to Wright, 9-1-1 calls provide an ongoing history about a location or household where there may be problems. The information provided by callers provide important evidence as well as patterns that may need to be addressed by police or shared with community partners. The more issues reported at a location, the better the argument for assigning a special attention or additional resources.

Your Right to Anonymity

Callers can remain anonymous. “Anonymity is every citizen’s right,” Wright said. People can request to remain anonymous at any time during a 9-1-1 call as long as they are not the victim of the crime or there is no need for them to meet with the police. Requesting anonymity does not delete your contact information, but hides it from the dispatcher and responding police. For certain crimes, police must canvass all neighbors for information or witnesses – if a caller is contacted during a police canvass, it is not a breach of anonymity.

Your 9-1-1 Call

Time is of the essence when you call 9-1-1, and Wright encourages community residents to be prepared when they call. “Have patience with the call taker,” Wright advised. “It seems like a lot of questions are being asked, but they all have a purpose.”

Wright shared the 5 W’s of what 9-1-1 dispatchers will ask to help citizens think about and look for important details if they ever witness a crime or need to report suspicious activity:

WHERE Try to provide a street address (best), block or intersection. Also report where on the property the incident is occurring – garage, back yard, front porch, etc., and any nearby landmarks.

WHAT What is happening determines what kind of resources need to be dispatched. Be as specific as possible: loitering, people attempting to break into a house, robbery in progress, fire etc.

WHO Give as much detail as you can about the suspicious person(s), starting with gender, race, height and weight, clothing, shoes; distinguishing characteristics like tattoos, scars, marks, haircuts or hair color, etc. If there is a vehicle involved, try to identify the make, model, color, license plate number, etc.

If you are the victim, there is a second WHO: Who are you and how can the police locate you?

WHEN If the activity is in progress, say it’s happening right now and response is urgently needed. If it’s over, give the date and time it occurred.

WEAPONS If there are any kinds of weapons being used – even things that aren’t usually weapons, like a brick or bat — let the dispatcher know.

Additional details that can help police include whether there are mental or physical disabilities, or medications involved. “Paint as clear a picture as possible,” Wright said.

Staying involved in the community is a resident’s first line of defense, Wright said. She encourages residents to work with the 22nd District Police, CAPS and organizations like BAPA and with the ward office to maximize communications and drive resources to the area.

Free Ridge Run 5K Training Clubs Open to Local Schools

By the time the 40th Annual BAPA Ridge Run arrives on Mon., May 29, your kids – whether they’re couch potatoes or budding athletes – can be ready to run the 5K.

BAPA’s free Ridge Run 5K Training Clubs created last year and 12 schools in Beverly/Morgan Park and surrounding communities participated. Clissold School had 100 members in their running club!

The free comprehensive 10-week training program was developed by Jenny Harkins, owner of Treadfit owner and an experienced runner.  Each school needs to recruit an adult to lead the program. Training guides offer proven techniques including running, cross training, nutrition and how to choose running shoes.

Clubs are encouraged to start training in March. “The Ridge Run is a really great family run. The running clubs give families a goal for doing something active together on Memorial Day,” said Margot Holland, BAPA executive director. “After the Run, we’ll have a festival in the park, with food and music; it’s sure to be a fun time for everyone.”

Kids ages five and up can participate in the Youth Mile fun run, and Harkins recommends those in 4th grade and above can train to run or run/walk the 5K. The Ridge Run offers a family registration discount for the 5K.

Since running is such an all-inclusive sport, people don’t need special skills to volunteer to coach the school teams, according to Harkins. “You can even have a parent who’s never run before coach the program; it’s so detailed and easy to follow,” she said.

To get started, Harkins recommends the club meets two times a week, and that members commit to an additional weekend run with a parent. Harkins recommends recruiting as many parent volunteers as you can, since it’s always nice to have extra bodies running with the kids along the route.

Practice is set up around a warm-up, workout, drills, a cool down game and a stretch. Besides finishing strong in the Ridge Run, the kids will get a lot out of the program. The practices are positive and encourage kids to cheer each other on; and the kids will gain confidence and learn about setting and achieving goals.

Ridge Run Running Club Training guides and more information are available from Margot Holland, mholland@bapa.org or 773-233-3100.

 

 

 

 

Village Viewpoint

Happy New Year everyone, I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season!  A fresh new year is upon us. It’s the time to be thankful for the blessings of the past year and to take stock of all our achievements. 2017 is a brand new year to start afresh and to start strong.

The BAPA staff and board are ready to continue to empower our “back to basics” approach of working for our residents and businesses every day. I look back on our accomplishments in 2016 with great pride – and you should, too. BAPA can only do its work because of supporters like you. Here are some of the highlights of our work this year:

Established the Parent Mentor Program, bringing trained volunteers into classrooms at Barnard School.

Opened the BAPA Business Center, providing office resources and mentoring opportunities to small businesses.

Launched the Ridge Run 5K training program at local schools, engaging hundreds of families in the benefits of clean eating, regular exercise and team work.

Launched the BAPA Card, providing discounts and specials from BAPA business members to all neighbors who support BAPA with membership donations.

Gave away 400 rain barrels through the Chicago Water Reclamation District

Announced “makeover” plans for the Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour, and more exciting changes for the Ridge Run, including a new finish line and post-race festival. We broke recent attendance records for the Home Tour, Ridge Run and Beverly/Morgan Park Memorial Day Parade.

Created neighborhood-wide beautification efforts including Weeding Wednesdays and re-landscaping the 103rd and 107th Street hills.

Launched the Love Where You Live campaign.

Established the Ridge Park Advisory Council, which stepped right up to provide improvements such as painting and to testify at the Chicago Park District budget hearing for much-needed repairs to the field house.

Partnered with Little Company of Mary Hospital and Beverly Bank to present free Family Fun nights.

Rocked the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic by reimagining it as the Bikes and Brews festival of craft beers, food trucks and family fun.

Were awarded a $10,000 matching grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust.

Launched new user-friendly www.bapa.org.

Finalized the fall Openlands tree planting grant, replacing 50+ trees on neighborhood parkways.

Co-sponsored the Shop 19 and Earn Neighborhood Rewards program, a month-long campaign promoting local shopping.

As we end 2016 celebrating with family and friends, we look forward to ringing in 2017 and the 70th anniversary of BAPA. We are grateful for your past support and rely on your input and ideas as we continue our important work, responding to the ever-changing needs of our amazing neighborhood.

All the Best,

Margot

 

We’re BAPA Members. Are You?

Pat and Susan Flood

The Floods have lived in Beverly/Morgan Park since they were in their late 20s and raised three kids. “I grew up in Normal, Ill.,” Susan said. “Pat grew up in Beverly, and introduced me to it. We picked this neighborhood for our first home because it felt like a small town and we were not let down. We are surrounded by people who care about each other. Chicago is a big city that offers so much but can feel like a challenging place to navigate. It’s nice to know that BAPA has their eyes on opportunities for our community. BAPA knows how to find resources that make our families safer, our schools better and our surroundings more beautiful. BAPA keeps their finger on the pulse so we can access what Chicago has to offer. Nobody can do that alone.”

The Way I See It

By Heather Wills, Chair, BAPA Education Committee

It is still a marvel to me on how my family and I had the excellent fortune to stumble upon the community of Beverly/Morgan Park eleven years ago. We had been living in a condominium on the North Side. We wanted to remain in the city, but transition into a house. Our big prerequisites were a robust, vibrant and diverse community, along with strong schools.

I had told my husband about working in Beverly/Morgan Park as a nanny one summer while home from college. It had been for a family that lived in the St. Cajetan parish, which meant absolutely nothing to me at the time, being a good protestant from the suburbs. We decided to take a drive down one spring evening and knew with certainty that we had found our neighborhood; the community where we would set down roots and raise our family.

When you think about strong neighborhoods, places featured in Chicago Magazine or areas where statistics are touted in the Chicago Tribune, schools are always an identifying factor. The whole community of schools is taken into consideration, not just the public, private or parochial schools. In order to keep all our community schools prospering, even the ones our children do not attend, we need to be deliberate in helping them succeed. One of BAPA Education Committee’s vital goals is to involve the community in meaningful partnerships with our local schools. This includes schools helping schools by making connections with one another, as well as the community becoming familiar with all their neighborhood schools.

I have been in the field of education for the past 16 years, and am sure that I am not alone in thinking that teaching is one of the most fulfilling occupations, also one of the most demanding. I once heard a devoted and respected teacher say that she spent her career knowing that she had daily failures in the classroom. If you question that, think about how you feel as a parent on any given day, or is that just me? The Education Committee will be working with local schools and The Villager to highlight some of our phenomenal teachers and programs. Our schools and teachers are doing some incredible work with students and it should be recognized.

Open and fluid communication between parents, schools, local elected officials and other community stakeholders is another important goal of the BAPA Education Committee. We are privileged to have numerous school choices for our children in the community. We may not always agree on policies and decisions, but we can work together in creating a climate and culture where everyone feels heard and valued.

There are so many things that I have grown to love about the Beverly/Morgan Park community. I am thankful that we found a neighborhood which values education, and understands the importance of working together. I hope that we will continue to grow in our efforts and stand alongside schools to help them maximize the academic achievement and social competence of all students in a safe, nurturing and developmentally rich environment.