Saturday, March 04, 2006

Maya from Israel
please contact
I've misplaced your e mail and phone #
Be Given the
Media Exemption?

by mcjoan
Sun Feb 26, 2006 at 01:58:05 PM PDT

Just as national politics was once an insiders' game, news coverage of national politics and serious political commentary were once the exclusive domain of media elites. Not any more. Bloggers have "democratized' journalism, and a coalition of bloggers has demanded the same wholesale exemption from the federal campaign finance laws that is currently provided to so-called mainstream media.

That exemption allows traditional journalists to fully communicate and coordinate with candidates, online or offline, and then spend, through their corporate employers, unlimited amounts of money publishing whatever news or commentary they please, favorable or unfavorable, fair or unfair, in any distribution channel: TV, radio, newspapers, magazines or the Internet....

On its face, the bloggers' request for rights equal to those of mainstream media seems reasonable. Their online readership, in a few instances, exceeds those of mid-sized daily newspapers, and their influence and legitimacy continues to grow, in some cases exponentially. Last summer, dozens of bloggers were issued press credentials at the two national party conventions, and several of them have been credentialed by the House and Senate Press Galleries. Recently a blogger was given a day pass to the White House Press Room.
Some bloggers want it both ways, however. They want to preserve their rights as political activists, donors and even fundraisers -- activities regulated by campaign finance laws -- yet at the same time enjoy the broad exemption from the campaign finance laws afforded to traditional journalists....

For thirty years the campaign finance laws have made a fundamental distinction between political activists and the news media, in order to protect a free press while at the same time limiting the influence of big money on federal elections. Until recently, the distinction between the news media and rest of us was clear and uncontroversial.
Bloggers blur that distinction. If anyone can publish a blog, and if bloggers are treated as journalists, then we can all become journalists. If millions of "citizen journalists," as bloggers like to call themselves, are given the rights and privileges of the news media, two consequences will follow....

[One] consequence is that the privileged status the press currently enjoys will diminish. When that happens, an erosion of its most important privilege, its ability through shield laws to protect the anonymity of its sources, will surely follow. While the FEC has no jurisdiction over shield laws, a change in the rules defining the news media in one arena is bound to affect other laws. As the pool of those considered journalists quickly expands, it is inevitable that the media's fragile privilege to refuse to answer questions about sources posed by prosecutors and grand juries will narrow.

The ramifications of the bloggers' demands are enormous. The issue before the FEC goes to the heart of the fundamental questions that define a democracy's relationship to a free press: Who should be treated as a journalist, and what special privileges, if any, should they receive?
I think we need to have Carol Darr explain to us again the distinctions between bloggers and journalists in campaign finance. And then we really need to have a bloggers' ethics conference.

Discuss (77 comments)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Rogers Park Review
north howard
blog to the
Rogers Park
Blog Community
Uncle Crabby's Journal

Another Rogers Park blog we enjoy.

National Single Payor Healthcare: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Cartoon credit: Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
Reprinted with permission of the artist.

The bad idea behind our failed health-care system.
Reprinted here with permission from the author.
Originally appeared in The New Yorker - Issue of 2005-08-29

Tooth decay begins, typically, when debris becomes trapped between the teeth and along the ridges and in the grooves of the molars. The food rots. It becomes colonized with bacteria. The bacteria feeds off sugars in the mouth and forms an acid that begins to eat away at the enamel of the teeth. Slowly, the bacteria works its way through to the dentin, the inner structure, and from there the cavity begins to blossom three-dimensionally, spreading inward and sideways. When the decay reaches the pulp tissue, the blood vessels, and the nerves that serve the tooth, the pain starts—an insistent throbbing. The tooth turns brown. It begins to lose its hard structure, to the point where a dentist can reach into a cavity with a hand instrument and scoop out the decay. At the base of the tooth, the bacteria mineralizes into tartar, which begins to irritate the gums. They become puffy and bright red and start to recede, leaving more and more of the tooth’s root exposed. When the infection works its way down to the bone, the structure holding the tooth in begins to collapse altogether.

Several years ago, two Harvard researchers, Susan Starr Sered and Rushika Fernandopulle, set out to interview people without health-care coverage for a book they were writing, “Uninsured in America.” They talked to as many kinds of people as they could find, collecting stories of untreated depression and struggling single mothers and chronically injured laborers—and the most common complaint they heard was about teeth. Gina, a hairdresser in Idaho, whose husband worked as a freight manager at a chain store, had “a peculiar mannerism of keeping her mouth closed even when speaking.” It turned out that she hadn’t been able to afford dental care for three years, and one of her front teeth was rotting. Daniel, a construction worker, pulled out his bad teeth with pliers. Then, there was Loretta, who worked nights at a university research center in Mississippi, and was missing most of her teeth. “They’ll break off after a while, and then you just grab a hold of them, and they work their way out,” she explained to Sered and Fernandopulle. “It hurts so bad, because the tooth aches. Then it’s a relief just to get it out of there. The hole closes up itself anyway. So it’s so much better.”

People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you’re paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury. It isn’t, of course. The loss of teeth makes eating fresh fruits and vegetables difficult, and a diet heavy in soft, processed foods exacerbates more serious health problems, like diabetes. The pain of tooth decay leads many people to use alcohol as a salve. And those struggling to get ahead in the job market quickly find that the unsightliness of bad teeth, and the self-consciousness that results, can become a major barrier. If your teeth are bad, you’re not going to get a job as a receptionist, say, or a cashier. You’re going to be put in the back somewhere, far from the public eye. What Loretta, Gina, and Daniel understand, the two authors tell us, is that bad teeth have come to be seen as a marker of “poor parenting, low educational achievement and slow or faulty intellectual development.” They are an outward marker of caste. “Almost every time we asked interviewees what their first priority would be if the president established universal health coverage tomorrow,” Sered and Fernandopulle write, “the immediate answer was ‘my teeth.’ ”

The U. S. health-care system, according to “Uninsured in America,” has created a group of people who increasingly look different from others and suffer in ways that others do not. The leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is unpaid medical bills. Half of the uninsured owe money to hospitals, and a third are being pursued by collection agencies. Children without health insurance are less likely to receive medical attention for serious injuries, for recurrent ear infections, or for asthma. Lung-cancer patients without insurance are less likely to receive surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. Heart-attack victims without health insurance are less likely to receive angioplasty. People with pneumonia who don’t have health insurance are less likely to receive X rays or consultations. The death rate in any given year for someone without health insurance is twenty-five per cent higher than for someone with insur-ance. Because the uninsured are sicker than the rest of us, they can’t get better jobs, and because they can’t get better jobs they can’t afford health insurance, and because they can’t afford health insurance they get even sicker. John, the manager of a bar in Idaho, tells Sered and Fernandopulle that as a result of various workplace injuries over the years he takes eight ibuprofen, waits two hours, then takes eight more—and tries to cadge as much prescription pain medication as he can from friends. “There are times when I should’ve gone to the doctor, but I couldn’t afford to go because I don’t have insurance,” he says. “Like when my back messed up, I should’ve gone. If I had insurance, I would’ve went, because I know I could get treatment, but when you can’t afford it you don’t go. Because the harder the hole you get into in terms of bills, then you’ll never get out. So you just say, ‘I can deal with the pain.’ ”

(End excerpt)

The full text of this article is too long to post here, but is a very worthwhile read if you want to understand the ideological forces at work against the movement toward a single payor system in United States. It's not just about who does and doesn't get the's about fundamental beliefs and values. To read the rest please go to the New Yorker site here.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Met the Candidates Tonight...Thanks Again....

to James Ginderske and all the others who took the time to organize this meeting tonight for our benefit. These are indeed outstanding candidates and initiatives, and it was a pleasure to hear the candidate's and sponsor's thoughts and ideas and have the opportunity to ask them questions.

Larry Suffredin also reminded us that early voting is taking place now in advance of the March 21st official voting day. The closest place for RP residents to vote early is Warren Park, 6601 N. Western Ave. Early voting is taking place from now until March 16. Hours are M-F 9am-5pm; Sat, Sun, Holiday 9 am-12pm. Bring a government issued photo ID. For more information on early voting click

For some excellent information on those often neglected but crucial judicial candidates, here is a great resource to find out everything you need to know.

...and be sure to turn over those giant ballots when you vote - lots of candidates only appear on the reverse side!

-- Rebecca
things that
make you go

Precinct Polling Places Combined

When you head out to vote on March 21 you may find that your polling place has changed if you live in what was formerly known as precinct 24 and precinct 37. Precinct 24 is bound by Morse, Lunt, Glanwood and Ashland. Precinct 37 was bound by Sheridan Rd. on two sides, Kenmore and Rosemont. These two precincts were combined at the request of the Chicago Board of Elections as an attempt to combime small precincts so that they can be more fiscally responsible, less judges to pay and less new machines to buy. Niether of these changes makes a hardship fpr the voters, in fact the new location is closer for most voters.

Former Precinct 24
Now combined with Precinct 31
Did Vote At:
United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse
Now Votes At:
Field School, 7019 N. Ashland

Former Precinct 37 -
Now combined with Precinct 2
Did Vote At:
Berger Park Field House
6205 N. Sheridan Rd.Now Votes At:
Shoreline Towers Lobby 6301 N. Sheridan Rd.

Former Precinct 43 No Boundary changes at all.
Now known as Precinct 37
Former Precinct 44 No Boundary change at all.

Now known as Precinct 24

Those directly effected should be officially notified by the Chicago Board of Elections by mail and will be additionally notified by us through a flyer.

We Have Mail......

Meet the Candidates

Come and meet the candidates this Thursday at the Loyola Park Field House, 7-9 pm.
Forrest Claypool - Cook County Board President
Alexi Giannoulias - State Treasurer
Martha Mills - Cook County Judge
Paul McMahon - Cook County Judge
Larry Suffredin - Cook County 13th District Commissioner will also attend. You can learn more about the proposed Illinois Healthcare Referendum from Health Care Illinois Now at this meeting as well.

Thanks to James Ginderske for bringing this meeting to our attention. See you there...

P.S. Couldn't find a self sponsored link for Paul McMahon. Please share whatever information you wish about this or any other candidate in the comments. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

we have Mail....

mike said.....

In a message dated 3/1/2006 10:16:22 A.M. Central Standard Time,
Mike Luckenbach writes:
Thanks for your reply. We look forward to a timely call from Mike Land regarding this meeting. The meeting needs to be scheduled for evening hours to accommodate our committee members. I can be reached by phone at 773-465-2433
Thanks again.
Mike L.

Alderman Moore says....


I'm assuming by your e-mail that you would like a meeting to discuss the North of Howard downzoning proposal. Is that so? My evening schedule is very full, and I won't be able to participate in a community meeting before the March 9th City Council Zoning Committee hearing. If you would like to have another meeting regarding the proposal, I'll ask the chairman of the committee to hold that particular ordinance in committee.

Please let Mike or me know.

Joe Moore
we have Mail.....

mike says......

The purpose of the requested meeting is to allow our NHNA Zoning Committee the opportunity to review the survey and data material/information your volunteers collected NOH, which prompted the proposed zoning changes for the NOH community. The intent is not to discuss the changes but to 'review' the data that was collected which prompted the proposed changes. Access to the information is what we are asking.
we have Mail......

Alderman Moore says.....


If I understand you correctly, you would just like time to review the data. Should I wait to hear from you before I ask the City Council Zoning Committee Chairman to hold the proposed zoning changes in committee? Keep in mind, the proposed zoning change on Paulina is not one of the zoning changes slated to be heard on March 9th. I have already agreed to hold off on that until there is more community discussion. The other proposed zoning changes are downzonings, which are intended primarily to protect the single family housing stock.

Let me know what you would like me to do.

in our little
neck o' the woods.......

For the archive.....
At last nights' Paschen Park meeting, organized to have Alderman Moore consider a downzoning request by a neigborhood group spearheaded by Paul Bluestone, this question was asked by a neighbor. "Are there any potential teardowns in the pipeline that you know of, that will be approved before March 30th ?" When pressed, the Alderman answered "NO". Alderman Moore will introduce this zoning request to the City Council on March 30th.

please let me know...... Much has been made recently, on the ‘hole and elsewhere about RP newbie activists adding our 2 naïve cents into the discussion. And I guess at some point, I would like someone to let me know when our probationary period has expired so we can reprint our business cards and stand along side our long time neighbors as equals. garyfuschi@yahoo

Can anyone spell oversupply?....... Yesterday's Tribune reported that new home sales are taking a "frosty turn" for the worse and there is worry about the effect on our economy. hhhmmm, that graph painted a not so pretty picture and I wonder if we have anything to worry about here, in our little neck o' the woods........? nah.

btw...... That lavender "concrete cookie cutter cracker box" For Sale sign, is still hanging above the main entrance to DevCorp North's temporary office on Howard Street. I guess I'm wondering what the marketing strategy is? Could it be aiimed at my recent condo owner neighbors who, after plunking down their life savings and decorating their new homes, suddenly realize that their real estate taxes aren't buying them very much NOH? Now that Wicker Park on the Lake is starting to take shape and prices begin to fall ( see can anyone spell oversupply? ), rational amenity vs. comparable taxes paid, neighborhood comparisons might be a bit of an issue.

Mold abatement..... Who really believes that in this ward, under the stewardship of this Alderman, that serious consideration and a fair hearing will be given to any well intentioned, brilliantly concieved plan that might address and possibly solve some important NOH issues? Bonus points for the person who can guess the # of paid for, would have been helpful and professionlly done plans, that sit dormant in DevCorps' "pay no mind" file. Mr. G., I would really love to look at the plans you have. I have a friend at Kinkos.

Mayberry..... Has anyone found the traveling "Happy Heart" ?
Has anyone found the volunteer that mans the 49th Ward website?

Dynamic Duo.....Kudos to Mike Luckenbach and Carl Steward. Proud to know ya'.

I don't get it........Please stop blaming our female neighbors when they are assaulted on our streets. The last time I looked, innocence and naivete' were not crimes. Assault is. Save the condemnation for the criminals who commit the crimes.

Free Self Defense Workshop for Women @ The Loyola Fieldhouse, March, 25, 11:30-1:30

another diabolical
s c h e m e ?

Excuse me 99, my shoe phone is ringing. Chief? hhhhmmmm..... I see. Got it.
99, Chief says KAOS has launched another diabolical scheme.
What is it Max?
Don't make reservations for that restaurant without a view, just yet.
Why Max?
Well 99, Chief says this is all a not so cleverly diguised smokescreen. Apparently, the Capstone building has been sold.
So there isn't going to be a new restaurant there, Max?
No there isn't, 99.
And the variance will be granted and the new building will just be a 35 car parking garage for the new condos at Capstone?
That's right, 99.
When will this happen, Max?
Well 99, that's the diabolical scheme. Apparently, JM will abide by the reccomondation of the secret organization known as ZALUC and turn down the request for the variance until after the election.
That's not very nice, Max.
No, it's not.
What should we do Max?
Chief says, we should keep a close eye on the situation, 99. He's working on a plan.
I think the Chief is right, Max.
That's why he's the Chief, 99.

We Have Mail....

Alderman Moore

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 6:17 PM
Re: Illegal signs!

In a message dated 2/28/2006 5:17:40 P.M. Central Standard Time, Mike Luckenbach writes:

Persons unknown are posting illegal signs in our neighborhood. These signs are red and white in color approximately 2' x 2' and are promoting a 'Home Phone Service'. They are being attached to trees and street & alley light poles. If you see any of these signs, please call 311 to report the location. You should also call the Alderman's office at 773-339-5796 to make a report and request removal. Please spread the word.

I have asked our Ward Superintendent, Mike Erickson, to look into this.

Alderman Joe Moore
we have Mail.......

mike e. says.....

Mike, et al.,

This e-mail is from my Ward Superintendent, Mike Erickson regarding the illegal signs. He can be reached at 312-744-0940:


Joe Moore

Sent to Alderman Moore's Office This Morning:


Hi Joe,

I am writing regarding mail you sent over the last couple of months assuring us that notices of community meetings related to zoning, TIF use, ZLUAC, and the like would be posted on the ward 49 site. I understand from a letter sent in January that there were some issues with the volunteer who was helping you keep the site updated, so I would like to offer to you to come by when needed to update your site with these kinds of announcements. I have the skills, and I'd be happy to share them in this way. If you are interested, please have someone from the ward office give me a call. As you know, I sponsor a community blog ( and it is my practice to post my letters to you on it - but I only post replies to email with permission, so please let me know if it is okay to post your reply on my site. Thanks.

--Rebecca Rouilly

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

old Mail....

N.H.N.A. says....

You are correct that the NHNA would like to review the data collected in the zoning survey process NOH. We do appreciate your agreeing to provide this information to the NHNA Zoning Committee, however, we do not want to delay the proposed downzoning of the Jonquil/Bosworth or the Sheridan Rd. areas, therefore, we ask you to proceed with that process on March 9th. We are in general agreement that this downzoning is good, although, we do want to understand, by reviewing the NOH data, why and how these areas were selected as opposed to others. It's a matter of fully understanding the process and the resulting proposed changes.

In regard to the 7600 block of Paulina, could you give a time-line as to when this issue will be 'back on the table'? As you know, the 'upzoning' proposal for this block is something that we are very much concerned about and do look forward to further community discussion regarding this.

In fact, the NHNA would like to participate in sponsoring such a meeting for our community. I did have a brief phone conversation with Mike Land on Wednesday, at which time he said, he was "gathering the NOH data" and would contact me when that was accomplished. We are awaiting his call in order to proceed with our review process in a timely manner.
Thanks Again,

Note: Reprinted with permission from the N.H.N.A.
we have Mail.....

NHNA says......

Alderman Moore,

The collection process and the data gathered in our NOH neighborhood, which prompted your proposed upzoning of the 7600 block of N. Paulina, is a serious concern to many NOH residents. NHNA has heard from many NOH residents who, until very recently, had no idea about any such process, or the resulting proposed changes.

Six of the nine property owners on the 7600 block of Paulina had no knowledge of this and none of the 6 were ever surveyed or contacted by any volunteers. As a resident of the 7700 block of N, Paulina, neither myself or any of the 25 or so residents on this block that I have spoken to, were ever contacted or surveyed about any NOH zoning issue, on Paulina or elsewhere.

It is because of these concerns that the NHNA Zoning Committee has requested access to the data that was gathered (NOH). You earlier stated that Michael Land would contact us, once he assembled the NOH information for our review. We look forward to that call, so that we might proceed.

ok, I Looked on the
49th Ward Website
Just Like the
Alderman Suggested.

I Couldn't Find This
Important Meeting Listed.

On Tuesday February 28, Alderman Joe Moore will be holding a meeting to consider a proposal to downzone a significant portion of an area bounded by Pratt Ave, Ravenswood, Touhy and Ridge to an RS-2 zoning designation.

The meeting will be on
Tuesday, February 28 at 7 p.m. at
Paschen Park
(corner of Lunt / Damen between Clark and Ridge Ave).

I only found out from Anne,
who I think found out from Brian,
well, you get the picture.......

Alderman Moore says......

"In the spirit of transparency, I will also post on my website,, the agendas of all future 49th Ward Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee meetings and the results of those meetings. I will also continue my practice of posting notices of community meetings on major zoning issues. "

Am I Missing Something?

Our Neighbors Aren't

This is a major issue for the neighbors in that particular neighborhood and for the rest of us too. That relatively small, stable, single family home area has seen at least 18 new concrete cookie cutter cracker boxes built in the last 3 years. Apparently, many of them built by Mr. Aronson.

things that make you go hhhmmm?

Sharing is Caring..........

The Little Envelope Has anyone tried clicking on The Little Envelope? Try it. You will find an automatic e-mail form that will send your favorite article to your friends.
we have Mail......

mike says....

Hi Joe,
I have been asked by the NHNA Zoning Committee, to request an opportunity to review the surveys, as well as any other materials and data, used in the" community survey process", which resulted in the proposed zoning changes you have 'placed on the table' for our neighborhood. We had requested this information from MPC, and they have informed us that any such material is in the Alderman's office. Again, what we are interested in would be the information and data gathered in the NOH community only. Our committee consists of four NOH residents. Please let me know how quickly we might have access to this community information.
Best Regards,
we have Mail.....

Alderman Moore says.....

In a message dated 3/1/2006 7:13:10 A.M. Central Standard Time, Mike Luckenbach writes:
The NHNA Zoning Committee is now appealing to you publicly, regarding the e-mail (below) sent on Monday the 27th requesting a review of the data/survey information gathered NOH to prompt your proposed zoning changes in our neighborhood.


I have forwarded your request to Mike Land in my office and have asked him to fulfill it. One small clarification. While I have introduced the proposed zoning changes into the City Council, they were actually proposed by the Metropolitan Planning Council and ratified by the community at several community meetings held last Fall, including a meeting held at Gale School. Nevertheless, I am certainly open to entertaining more discussion.

Joe Moore
we have Mail

mike says....

Thanks for your reply. We look forward to a timely call from Mike Land regarding this meeting. The meeting needs to be scheduled for evening hours to accommodate our committee members. I can be reached by phone at 773-465-2433
Thanks again.
Mike L.

Monday, February 27, 2006

that make you go

City Council
City of Chicago

Feb. 21, 2006

You Are Hereby Notified that a Public Hearing on the requested Zoning Amendment listed below will be heard in the City Council Chambers, 121 N. Lasalle Street, 2nd floor of City Hall on Thursday, March 9, 2006.

Anyone wishing to be heard must be at the hearing, which will commence at 10:00 am.

You Are Receiving This Notice for the proposed Zoning Change for an address or addresses within your Ward because your property is either in or within 250 feet of the proposed boundary. Please refer to the legal description and address if applicable and forward any questions to the Alderman who proposed this change.


Alderman Joe Moore
Application# A5894

Common Address:
1432 -1538 West Jonquil Terrace
7650 -56 North Bosworth Ave.

Current Zoning:
RT 4 Residential Two Flat
( Townhouse and Multi Unit District )

Proposed Zoning:
RT 3.5 Residential Two Flat
( Townhouse and Multi Unit District )

For Additional Information, please call
Alderman Joe Moore
773 338 5796
312 744 3067


RE: RT4 to RT3.5 Zoning Change for 1432-1538 West Jonquil Terrace and 7650-56 North Bosworth Avenue

Hey Joe;

I’m writing in regards to the proposed zoning change for the above mention area, North of Howard in Rogers Park. After reading the City of Chicago Zoning Ordinance for RT4 and RT3.5, could you elaborate on the reasons for the proposed zoning change in this area? Specifically, the reasons for the change, intended purpose of the change and planned developments that you are attempting to stop/prohibit or encourage as a result of this zoning change? As you are well aware, any zoning changes in this area are reviewed with some degree of suspicion because of the heavy concentration of socially motivated properties that pepper the area.

As a founding member of the North of Howard Neighbors Association, I find some difficulty in supporting a zoning change when we have very little to no information regarding this change. Depending on forth coming information from you, I can either rally support for or against this proposal. While you have indicated in the past that you have no “horse in the race”, you have proposed this change for a reason, that reason can garner support or opposition. It is fully up to you, as applicant to explain the reasons for the change. I look forward to hearing from you prior to the March 9th date for this hearing.

The North of Howard Neighbors Association thanks you for your attention to this matter and look forward to supporting you in this effort to enhance and enrich our community.

Carl Steward

Alderman Moore says......


The proposed zoning changes are a result of an extensive two-and-a-half-year process in which our community, with the assistance of the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), examined the 49th Ward zoning map in light of the city's new zoning code and the development changes, which have occurred in the ward since the map was adopted 50 years ago. Based on a community survey conducted by neighborhood residents, MPC submitted dozens of recommended zoning changes in the ward. In general MPC recommended "downzong" some residential areas to help preserve the low density nature of many of our residential streets and recommended some "upzoning" of some commercial streets. The proposal are contained on my web site,

I conducted several community meetings last Fall regarding the proposals, and the downzoning recommendations were almost unanimously supported. Accordingly, I have introduced into the City Council those recommended zoning changes The zoning changes proposed along the commercial streets were more controversial, and I have held those recommendations pending more community discussion.

The proposed zoning changes in North of Howard are a result of the process, and were not driven by any specific development proposal. I will have Michael Land in my office call you regarding the proposed zoning changes in your specific area. Or feel free to call him at 773-338-5796.

I hope this answers your question.

Joe Moore
Angela says.....

Rogers Parkers
Condemn Plan
for Townhomes

Feb. 22, 2006

A developer's pitch to add 64 upscale townhomes on the Park Plaza land, which is already maxed out--at least as far as zoning is concerned--is getting mixed reviews from neighbors.

Along with a group of partners, local businessman Ben Weinchneider is under contract to purchase the six-acre site through Park Plaza, LLC. If the deal closes, the 220-unit Park Plaza apartment building, 6840 N. Sacramento Ave., would fall into the hands of new owners. The management, however, would remain the same--and, yes, the building will still be kosher, the development team's attorney Bernard Citron said.

Under the proposal, rows of townhomes would line the perimeter of the site. On average, the units would have three or four 2,500 square-feet units with two parking spaces. And they will cost a pretty penny, most upwards of $480,000.
As the condos would fill in the current parking spaces for the Park Plaza apartments, a lot with 101 spaces would be poured on the northern border of the property, paving over a now-open grassy space.

For neighbors Zevi David and his brother-in-law Jonathan Stopek whose families have been using the space as a backyard for their abutting townhome complex, the plan comes as a real blow. With three kids under 5 years old, David said, it won't only impact his family, "All the kids in the area play there."

"And we don't want to look out in our backyard and see a parking lot," Stopek added.
Another major concern voiced by neighbors who attended a community hearing on the proposal Wednesday, Feb. 15 was that traffic is already too tight on the West Rogers Park stretches of Touhy and Pratt. Some long-timers say they fear adding the homes would only make the situation worse.

With three entrances onto the site, though, developers say they are planning to disperse cars from the site more evenly. While admitting that there will certainly be an impact, they project it will be minimal in the big picture.
Because the property lies in a planned development, the townhouse proposal will be reviewed by a series of city committees and then the City Council before the developers get a go signal. Even if the plan isn't approved, Weinchneider said his partners in the LLC plan to acquire the property.

And if all goes according to their plan, groundbreaking would begin in fall. The units would be sold in phases and the property would be under construction for two years.
In the tight-knit community where there aren't a whole lot of new people moving in and out, Realtor Phyllis Smith wasn't alone when she lamented declining membership at local congregations and a struggling local economy. The new homes, she said, might help give those institutions a boost.

"If we want to make our Jewish Community Center and our synagogues more vibrant we need to bring in new housing and more families," she said.
Living only an estimated 700 feet from Park Plaza himself, Weinchneider said instead of pushing for a high density condo project, "I created instead something I would like to see next to me. And (a project) to bring in market rate buyers."