Friday, April 21, 2006

From the Trib'


CHA aiming at Section 8

Over the last 16 months, the Chicago Housing Authority has cut off rent payments to Section 8 landlords more than 20,000 times for repeatedly failing to fix lead-paint hazards, bad plumbing or rotting porches, officials said.

Locked Gates Stop "Commerce"


This is the rear courtyard of two buildings on
Bosworth across the street from the Broadmoor.
These gates have been open since this observer
has lived here and has been not only an eyesore,
but a haven for "commerce" of several varieties.

These gates were always open and the partially

burned out buildings and stairways were also
frequented by kids in the neighborhood.

The chains and locks were installed within the
last two days since I happen to walk down that
alley almost daily and would have noticed.

Whether this is just a coincidence, a committment
by management ,who have been emptying debris
from the buildings lately or whether a little birdy
mentioned this building to the team of
motivated inspectors that arrived at Northpoint on
Wednesday, is anyone's guess. Quite honestly, I hope
it was management's decision. I'm just glad it finally


Reasons to be Cheerful,Warm Weather & Wrigley Field

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Rogers Park Review

Now that I’ve finished with my own personal review, this shift in focus will obviously have an affect on what is written on this blog. As most things, it will evolve so I don’t want to put myself in too small a box just yet so I’ll just talk about what I know now.

More than ever and especially in this election year, I see a need for some unbiased reporting of events and initiatives that are taking place in Rogers Park. Everyone obviously has opinions and I’ve added enough of my own over the past year. But the blogging community is a small group relative to the population of the entire ward and what is written and commented on, for the most part, involves a small geograghic area of Rogers Park.

Objectively, when someone takes a look at the blogs on any given day, they might think the neighborhood is coming apart at the seams. And it might be. Honestly, I don’t know anymore because I have spent so much time in front of the screen taking all this information in, I honestly don’t know if that’s the truth or not. And I guess that worries me a little.

It struck me the other day when someone who was just in from Ohio posted a comment and a question asking if Rogers Park was really as bad as it was being portrayed. I guess that’s my question too. I tried formulating an answer but I honestly couldn’t because my view has become totally biased.

“Oh, it must be bad because………”

I really start to distrust my own judgment when I find myself knee jerking my reactions because I’ve never been an ideologue. I’m more of a pragmatist with a healthy cynicism of all things beauracratic. I try and give people a fair hearing no matter what their history is with others.

One of the reasons I took some time off and away from the screen was to refresh my own view and take advantage of the warm weather and hit the streets and find out what some of my other neighbors think about Rogers Park from their perspective and in other parts of the ward. I think I’ll take my camera with me because sometimes pictures tell a better story than words do.

And I’ll also try and develop a behind the lens, objective eye when I report on the people and events that happen to interest me. I am not a reporter and I have no training but I think I can set aside my own opinions and let others tell their story. I’ll give it a shot, anyway. These reports will be written by a new persona, The Objective Observer, if only to remind myself.

I’m not sure yet if I want this blog to be considered a community blog or just a personal blog. I like the simplicity of personal blogs a lot. There isn’t any pressure to teach, or to keep anyone informed or to necessarily accomplish anything. I think I just want to keep meeting people in our neighborhood and try and find out for myself, what is happening in Rogers Park from the images and the people who live and work here. I’d like to have a little more fun too. All this political stuff makes for a deeply, furrowed brow and at my advancing age, well…not good.

I like talking on the blogs but I don’t want us to gossip, be mean or offensive but that doesn’t rule out disagreements because I like a healthy debate every once in awhile. I just don’t see the point in arguing and if we ever get to that point, we’ll just take a breather and sleep on it.

I think Blogger should develop a software package with a delay called “Are you sure you want to print that comment?”

The Rogers Park Review will accept press releases and event notices from any reputable political candidate or community based organization. If you have an event that needs a wider audience, I’ll post it for you. If you have someone who you would like to know more about or a business that has a story to tell, let me know.

Please send the info to

And if you have any suggestions let me know and thanx a lot for your support and comments.


Meeting Today

E mail Alert Received Wed.
From The Rogers Park Conservancy

We're all set for tomorrow. I spoke with Madeleine Doering, the Economic Development Coordinator at the Deparment of Planning, who chairs the hearing and she confirmed that the Loyola proposal is still on the agenda for tomorrow. She said the hearings last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours, with tomorrow's hearing probably lasting on the long side.

We are last on the agenda and we will get 3 minutes each to speak. A form is filled out when we get there and can be filled out even after the hearing has started as long as it's in before the item comes up on the agenda. She asked that we not have numerous individuals making the same point otherwise the Board begins to dismiss what is being said. The decision is made at the hearing so we'll know before we leave.

At the end of my statement I will ask that the Commission reject the proposal based on it's conflict with the LPO and it's location, not it's structure, and suggest that Loyola resubmit the proposal utilizing alocation off the lakefront and the Jesuit Lawn. Each of us who will be speaking should end our statements with the same request based on the item in the LPO that we're each addressing. Please make sure that your statement is typed as it will be spoken and have a copy so that it can be submitted to the Board.

I will be at the Loyola "L" stop at noon tomorrow to meet the Loyola students there and accompany them downtown. We can go over our statements during the 1/2 hour ride. Anyone else who is going can meet up with us there or simply meet us downtown at City Hall.

Donald Gordon
Executive Director,
Rogers Park Conservancy

Note: Scroll Down for Meeting Agenda and Information

From the Trib'

Art Institute Wants to Set
$12. 00 Admission Fee

Charles Storch, Tribune
The suggested admission fee could become a historical curiosity at Chicago's large museums, with the Art Institute of Chicago poised to set a fixed charge of $12 for non-member adults.The institute, one of 10 museums on Chicago Park District land, is scheduled to ask the district's board on Wednesday for permission to make the change, effective June 3. If the board approves, non-member adults visiting the institute won't have the option of simply making a "donation," whether it be in loose change or crisp bills.

Art Institute spokeswoman Erin Hogan noted that the suggested donation had been $12, so the new policy is not technically a fee increase. She contended the change would affect only 10 percent of the museum's visitors.The institute also is seeking permission for a change that could benefit many families. It wants to let children younger than 12 be admitted without charge. Now, only children younger than 5 enter for free.

City Dropouts Target of Grant
With many high school dropouts saying they left school because they felt unchallenged in the classroom, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday gave $21 million to the Chicago Public Schools system to establish a more rigorous curriculum in city high schools.

Foggy Spring Day

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Community Event

Family Matters
17th Walk-A-Thon

Date: Saturday, May 20th, 2006
Time: 9:00 - 9:45 a.m. Registration

10:00 a.m. Walk
Begins at: Gale Academy,
1631 W. Jonquil in Chicago.
Please note the new kick-off location at the school located one-half block south of Family Matters (corner of Marshfield Avenue and Jonquil Terrace).
Concludes at: Gale Campus Park

To download a registration form or register a team online, click here.
A Special Thanks to Our Sponsors! Devon Bank, Platinum SponsorMICR Resource Management, Bronze SponsorBrickyard Bank, Bronze SponsorLaSalle Bank, Bronze SponsorJason's Food, Picnic Sponsor

Dear Neighbors,
Spring has sprung and with it comes Family Matters' 17th Annual Walk-A-Thon. The Walk, which will take place on Saturday, May 20th, is our major fundraiser. The money we raise is a significant part of our budget, supporting our leadership development programs for children and their families in the North of Howard neighborhood as well as our Community Organizing Initiative.
Our goals this year are to have 350 walkers and to raise $100,000. We are confident that, with your participation, we can exceed our goals. This year, join the first annual Team Challenge! Gather your family, friends, co-workers, or congregation and form a Team. The "Golden Sneaker Award" will be presented to the Top Fundraising Teams (adults and youth), the Most Spirited Team, and the Team with the Most Members. Each team will receive an 8x10 photo of the group taken at the event as well as special team tags to be worn during the Walk. Feel free to wear hats, buttons, etc. to distinguish your team. Register your team online at
or by phone at (773) 465-6011 x113. May 13th is the deadline for team registration.
For more information: please call Emily Gruszka at (773) 465-6011 x113

Register Now
Following the walk, please join us for a sumptuous picnic, free raffle, and a special appearance by Bob Love, former Chicago Bulls player. We look forward to seeing you rain or shine!
In partnership and peace, Kim DeLong
Family Matters


Monday, April 17, 2006

Meeting Today

Loyola Proposes Construction
of New Campus Building on Lake Michigan

Presentation before Chicago Plan Commission on
Thurs., April 20, 2006
Concerned citizens urged to attend to
voice concern about this proposal:

Chicago Plan Commission Meeting
121 North LaSalle Street
City Council Chamber, City Hall
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Thurs., April 20, 2006
1:00 P.M.

Loyola University has proposed constructing a new building on its Lake Shore Campus. This four-story, 70,000 square-foot structure called "Information Commons" will be located between Madonna della Strada Chapel and Cudahy Library, on the site of the present open green space known as the Jesuit Residence Lawn. Many students, alumni, and community members oppose locating the building at this spot, because it blocks the last remaining vista of the lake and creates a canyon effect along the shoreline.

At an April 4th campus meeting to discuss the proposed building, several students eloquently stated that seeing the "Jes Res" Lawn with its beautiful view of Lake Michigan was the very reason they chose to attend Loyola.

Why Should the Community Care?

Many area residents utilize the Loyola Campus as their open space. The enjoyment of this tranquil setting and wide-open vista of Lake Michigan will be lost forever by the ill-conceived placement of this building. Lakefront Protection Ordinance Loyola's property, private or not, is within the Lakefront Protection Ordinance district and like any other property owner needs to comply with the intent and purpose of the Ordinance.

Paragraph 16-4-030 (Purposes), paragraph (g), states: To promote and provide for the pedestrian access to the Lake and to protect and enhance vistas at these locations and wherever else possible. This building is in direct conflict with that purpose as well as other purposes of the Ordinance.


By Donald Gordon,
Executive Director, Rogers Park Conservancy
Saturday, April 15, 2006

As some of you may know by now, Loyola has a plan to begin building an Information Commons building on their campus this summer. It's a LEED approved building, which makes it environmentally correct and architecturally quite stunning. The purpose of the building is to provide study areas for the students and have a secured, enclosed connection to the library.

It's a $30 million dollar project with 4 floors and will rise 67' and will be primarily a glass front. The building is stunning and the facility an incredible state-of-the-art asset for the students. The problem is the location, which is in front of the Jesuit residence between the library and the chapel, on a piece of property the students and alumni refer to as the Jesuit Lawn.

It is the last remaining green space on campus with a vista of the lake and it is quite spectacular at that. This building is being placed right on that property at the lake's edge and blocks the last remaining vista of the lake, while creating a canyon effect along the shoreline. The students have been very vocal against it and community residents, including myself, expressed similar feelings at Loyola's meeting a couple weeks ago.

Unfortunately, the community meeting requested by the Alderman was once again too little too late. The project was undertaken and planned well over a year ago, and all the meeting provided was yet another wasted venue for citizens to sit and be in awe of the proposals put in front of us.

We have presented two alternative locations, which would accommodate the structure as is and be within proximity to the library to allow for the connectivity that is needed. The University will hear nothing of it at this late stage, so we are invoking the Lakefront Protection Ordinance to bring pressure upon Loyola to move its location.

You might ask, though, why should we care about the students problem with their university? Why care about their remorse over their loss of this last respite of lakefront open green space on campus? Why care about anything that a private university is doing on their private campus?

Well, we should care.

First, Loyola's property, private or not, is within the Lakefront Protection Ordinance district and like any other property owner they need to comply with the intent and purpose of the Ordinance. Paragraph 16-4-030 (Purposes), paragraph (g), states: To promote and provide for the pedestrian access to the Lake and to protect and enhance vistas at these locations and wherever else possible.

This building is in direct conflict with that purpose as well as other purposes of the Ordinance. Second, we should also be remorseful over this loss because the campus, though private, is accessible and utilized by the residents of this community. Residents in the southeast corner of Rogers Park have little to no green space and only a small play lot and beach at the end of Albion that provides a lakefront vista. The campus is their open space as well as anyone else's in the community who chooses to run and walk through this tranquil setting and most importantly enjoy the wide-open vista now provided by the Jesuit Lawn. That will be lost forever by the ill-conceived placement of this building.

Finally, we should hold Loyola accountable to the spirit of Daniel Burnham and everyone who has fought for our lakefront over the past 150 years. If you care to, you can read this extraordinary history in Lois Wille's book "Forever Open, Clear, and Free - The Struggle for Chicago's Lakefront. The title of the book is from the immortal words of Gurdon Saltinstall Hubbard, William F. Thornton and William B. Archer, who at the time of this city's founding, refused to "sell our lakefront." Instead they inscribed these words on their map of a little prairie town on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. So many more were to follow in their footsteps.

All of us who fight the fight today to keep even the smallest of open spaces on this grand and spectacular lakefront are following in these footsteps as well. This is not just a student battle with their Administration; this is our battle, in concert with the students, as stewards of this lakefront and as champions of a cause that has persisted for 150 years. We cannot shrink from that responsibility nor allow Loyola to disgrace the legacy of those who fought so hard to preserve for us what we have today.

I'll close this appeal with the words of Daniel Burnham, which so eloquently make our case today:

"The lakefront by right belongs to the people. It affords their one great unobstructed view, stretching away to the horizon where water and clouds seem to meet. No mountains or high hills enable us to look over broad expanses of the earth's surface; and perforce we must come even to the margin of the lake for such a survey of nature. These views calm thoughts and feelings, and afford escape from the petty things of life. Mere breadth of view, however, is not all.

The lake is living water, ever in motion, and ever changing in color and in the form of its waves. Across its surface comes the broad pathway of light made by the rising sun; it mirrors the ever-changing forms of the clouds, and is illumined by the glow of the evening sky. Its colors vary with the shadows that play upon it. In every aspect it is a living thing, delighting mans' eye and refreshing his spirit. Not a foot of its shores should be appropriated by individuals to the exclusion of the people. On the contrary, everything possible should be done to enhance its natural beauties, thus fitting it for the part it has to play in the life of the whole city. It should be made so alluring that it will become the fixed habit of the people to seek its restful presence at every opportunity."

Daniel H. Burnham, Chapter IV
The Plan of Chicago, 1909

We propose moving the IC building, as is, to the Quinn Quadrangle and adjoining parking lot at the north end of campus (the moderately hilly landscaped area just east of the Winthrop entrance on Loyola Avenue), which would still allow for connectivity to the library, be in closer proximity to student housing and Centennial Forum, while providing easier access to the library for residents in the community. By doing this and tearing down the Jesuit residence, which is already planned, a spectacular open space vista would be created within the campus.

This would be a win-win situation for all, since the University would have to do very little modification of its plan for the IC and the students and community residents would gain a tremendous open green space and lakefront vista to enjoy for generations to come. The contingency recommendation would be to put the IC in the current location of the Jesuit residence by tearing it down first and at least preserving the Jesuit Lawn and lakefront vista, as it exists today.

Please contact the Rogers Park Conservancy for more information at

San Francisco Bay Sea Lions

Personal Choices

"We are driven by our enthusiasm for knowledge, by our affection for the possibilities of blogging........."

This is part of a quote from " The Committee to Protect Bloggers" mission statement and although I agree with this in spirit, my belief in the real opportunities that exist in the "possibilities" of blogging have been sorely tested lately.

I happen to believe that bloggers, much like newspapers, have a responsibility to maintain a certain level of journalistic integrity. I have tried to maintain a level of respect with my disagreements with commentors and with leadership because I happen to believe public discourse with other people dictates a level of mutual respect. I have been guilty of pushing that boundary a little and when I have, I've regretted it and I've apologized to those I know I've offended. I will apologize now to those who I might have unknowingly done the same.

But I think it all comes down to personal choices with regard to blogging because our activity is unregulated and operates in a "grey" area unlike mainstream journalism. Thankfully, since national blogs are now becoming sources for news as much as traditional news outlets have been, blogs are beginning to attain the respect they deserve and at the same time, self regulate their content and accountability to levels that are consistent with accepted journalistic standards. This self regulation takes time, dedication and committment and until there are laws that regulate our activity, our blogs are what we decide we want them to be.

So, in essence, our blogs represent who we are as people and neighbors within our community.

And because we are our own editors, what we write about and how we represent our posts are an indication of what is important to us as people, neighbors and constituents.

Personally, I care deeply about Rogers Park, about North of Howard and about my neighbors. That care is reflected in the painstaking and time consuming process that this novice writer has tried to develope to ensure that what and who I write about is as accurate as possible and not personal and malicious in nature. I happen to think that the facts are important and reputations should be handled with care.

I don't consider blogging a sport and what might be justified and passed off as acceptable in the mainstream media and blogs, to pry into and insinuate about a persons' personal life, is just as deplorable nationally as it is here in Rogers Park.

Heck, I secretly glance at the Enquirer as I wait at the checkout counter too, but that doesn't mean I'm going to support that rag or any other tattler type magazine. I know there is an audience for that type of bottom feeder "journalism" and I realize that writers need work and bloggers need content. But I have no respect for anyone who devotes their time and energy smearing people in public without a shred of evidence for a few deliberate and malicious chuckles on a slow news day.

But again, these are personal choices.

I just want to thank the commenters who censured that foolishness and who appear at least, to be keeping an open mind. That's all I would hope for.

Even though I have a "public" profile as a blogger in Rogers Park, I am not a paid public servant or candidate for public office nor would I ever be one. I am a private citizen and I have a right to privacy and I will defend that right. And just for the record, the word I used to communicate my concern was not "intimidated" as was of course wrongfully reported because I am not intimidated. I choose my words carefully and the word I used was "harassed".

And judging by the e mails and phone calls I've received, there are others in our community who are tired of this harasment and abuse too. Because that's what this type of blog behavior is, it's abuse, plain and simple. It's a waste and an abuse of what should be a priveledge. It adds nothing positive to the already difficult issues we face in our neighborhood and does not solve a thing.

There should be a higher barrier of entry for the priveledge of blogging and representing a neighborhood besides simply owning a computer and a skewed sense of morality.


A Personal Review

I've met a lot of people over the last year. Really good and dedicated people doing quiet volunteer work in our community without any fanfare whatsoever. They don't get public recognition because they don't want it. For them, it's their involvement and commitment that matter the most. But there is also a deep satisfaction that something real is being accomplished with other people who are giving their time towards a common purpose. Quietly.

And even as I continued to rage against the machine, writing and whining, and not really getting anything much accomplished, there began to be this hollow feeling after finishing each post.

OK, what?

I had no answer for myself.
It was the same sense of nothingness that I wrote about after the Zaluc meeting in February.
OK...they're in there and we're out here ....and now what do we do?

I wish it were as funny as the Seinfeld episode when George explained to the NBC executives that the premise of their new show would be about NOTHING. But this isn't a sitcom. This is about a person who wants to understand how he can best involve himself in his neighborhood and use his abilities to that end.

And although I enjoy writing, there is no personal satisfaction from simply complaining about things that I can do very little to control when I know darn well, I could put on some comfortable clothes, make a phone call or two and in an hour be working with some kids teaching them about something as rewarding as gardening. Maybe I can be a positive influence on just one kid and maybe he or she will remember something that we did together and maybe I would trade in all my essays for that to happen. I use the word maybe, but I've really already made up my mind because this has not been an overnight realization.

This is all about personal choices. Maybe if I was twenty something again and thought that time didn't matter as much as I think it does now, this choice wouldn't be made. But I'm not that young any more and the big clock is ticking and I don't think I've done everything I need to do yet. I had some teachers and volunteers take an interest in me when I needed it most and guess I just want to return the favor.

As I now consider my activities "politicaly neutral", I will be looking for common ground, support and opportunities wherever I can find them on activities that are important to me. My involvement with Devcorp, at least in my mind, does not constitute a political endorsement or represent some deep conspiratorial tomfoolery. It is simply a matter of timing and synergy with another project I happen to be involved with and I would have written about it whether that irresponsible post appeared or not.

I don't expect everyone to understand or agree with my decision. Everything seems to be met with suspicion and rumours and there is nothing I can do about that. I've written about my opinions ad nauseum and I simply have said enough and I'm tired of complaining. I just think it's time for me to start doing something real and constructive.

Please understand, I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty or not involved enough or consider what I'm doing any great shakes because I don't. Again, it's just a personal choice. We all do what we can and it's not my business to berate people into involvement of any kind.

There is also a healthy and realistic understanding that as much as I have disagreed with what exists, the system, TIFS, SSA's and and all the rest aren't going away anytime soon. I can whine until I'm blue in the face and that won't change a damn thing. If I happen to find in the future as I already have with a project Devcorp is working on, that there is an opportunity to volunteer on a community initiative I can support, I will. I will look for those opportunities wherever I can.

There are plenty of others who can do a better job than I did who are seeking change and I will just borrow this phrase from Uncle Crabby and say good luck and "soldier on".


"We Need an Angel to Save This Place'"

By Felicia Dechter
Pioneer Press

They're looking for an angel and a miracle in East Rogers Park to save the North Shore School, 1217 W. Chase St.

So say parents and teachers of the private lakefront school, who have been brainstorming to find a way to save the institution since it recently announced it will close its doors on Sept. 1, after 68 years in the community.

"We need an angel to walk into this place," said Andrew Clark, a parent who comes from Albany Park. "I think it's a tragedy.

"I would like it to stay open. This is going to be a loss for the neighborhood...there are enough townhouses and condos going in. I don't want to see this building torn down."

According to David Wilkinson, the nonprofit school's director/owner, the 100-year-old school building was built on the lake as a country club. Wilkinson's wife's parents bought the place after landfill was added to the lake and another building built in front of it, and they founded the school in 1938. The Dix family gutted the building and made it into a "marvelous, unique school," with a bowling alley in the basement, Wilkinson said.

An old ballroom houses the gym, and the oak floors are creaky, Wilkinson said, but the school has a "warm and charming past."


"It's really a great place," said Wilkinson, whose children also attended the school. "It's a legacy. That's what makes this whole thing heart-wrenching. We love the kids, we love the parents."
Low enrollment is one reason the school is closing. It currently has about 70 pre-school through eighth- grade children. "The reputation we have in the private school community is absolutely fantastic," Wilkinson said. "But there comes a time when you realize if no one on the family wants to take it over..."

The school's doors will close after this year's summer camp, Wilkinson added.
"We want to continue through the summer so the little people can enjoy the lake," he said.
He added that some private schools in the area have shown some interest, but, "At the moment, I don't know what our next move will be," Wilkinson said, adding that he was absolutely sure he is closing and that he has not yet exposed that fact to developers.

Yet parents, faculty and community members have been quietly holding Saturday meetings to try and save the school, with the next being held at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 15. And the students have even been penning letters to Oprah Winfrey, in hopes that she'll help.

French teacher Claudine Wojtowicz, a member of the Friends of the North Shore School, has started a full-blown campaign to save the school. Committees have been formed, and "all kinds of ideas are being formed and positive action is being taken by all concerned, even the kids, she said.

"The children are so attached to it, they want to help," Wojtowicz said, calling it a life lesson for the kids. "It's a worthy cause, and we want to see the children having the life force to do something, even when the adults are down.

"I believe there is still time," she added. "This is a marvelous school and it's a loss for the community." Other faculty members agreed.

"There's not another institution like this in the city of Chicago," said kindergarten aide Terri Wagner. "This is heartbreaking, and has left families scrambling. The kids can't eat, sleep and are peeing in the beds.


"I hope by some miracle there could be enough money raised for the school, and a new set of directors could be reborn. If somebody has two million they want to give us..."
Principal Christine Kallis would like to see the same. "I'd like us reborn with the same high standards and giving the community the same jewel of an education they have offered," she said.

The school, according to West Rogers Park parent Edythe Freeman, offers a "loving, nurturing environment that gives the child a method to express themselves and to handle situations."
"We want to stay," Freeman said.

Yet according to Wilkinson--who also has another company, the Wilkinson Company in the Merchandise Mart his mind is made up and for his family, there is no turning back to stay.
"It's a great place, with great people," he said of the school. "It's a wonderful oasis for little people to begin their academic experience. But as they say in show's been a great run."

Outside In

I happen to like that photo a lot. It reminds me of a time when our porch was fully grown, in August of last year. We had some trouble with some of our neighbors next door and in our North of Howard neighborhood and the worse the trouble got, the more often we drove to the nursery. And of course if you are a plant lover, a trip to the nursery guarantees a purchase, whether you actually need plants or not. Plant lovers know what I'm talking about.

But for me, a trip to the secret nursery where I go, ( sorry, not just yet ), also guarantees a drive with the windows down, a reason to escape the neighborhood and the anticipation of walking into the many inter- connected greenhouses and catching that first glimpse of what seems like acres of vibrant colors. I would grab a cart and of course it would be filled before I reached the second aisle.

There is a also the casual sharing of tips and information among the other like minded people who are there to fill up their carts. I like plant people. They are helpful, good natured and happily obsessed. Many of us use planting as an escape, an inexpensive therapy. In fact, we therapied so much last year, that we created a plant wall on all three sides of our porch. We couldn't be seen and we could barely see out. We didn't intend to do this but we found ourselves needing to.

In our little part of town, there is constant activity and noise. Unfortunately, very little of it is the variety we wanted to freely let into our conciousness. So we built a plant room to keep some semblance of our privacy and sanity. It's wasn't easy living North of Howard last year and if what I've seen, read about and experienced personally is any scientific indication, it will not be any easier this year.

North of Howard is a neighborhood in the midst of a substantial makeover and this is not the one hour, feel good, tear in your eye, and turn the channel and on to the next dumb show variety. NOH is the ultimate, in your face reality show and the juxtposition of images in this evolving neighborhood, is more than a little disquieting.

There are signs of change almost everwhere North of Howard.


North of Howard is a very odd place to live these days. East of Bosworth, scores of condo conversions have taken place, yet there is never anyone on the street in this part of town. I walk my neighborhood a lot and I see the same few people trudging to and from the train every day. On the weekend and during the weekday, the only people I see on the streets where most of the conversions have and are still taking place are workmen and plenty of patrol cars. Is this what’s its like living in a bedroom community?

Howard Street is deserted as is the park, no doubt because of the camera. But it seems to this observer that the streets just west of Bosworth and north of Howard Street are more crowded than I remember from last year. Anxious mothers hurriedly shepherd their children back and forth from the Gale School, past all the double parked, gleaming cars booming with impossibly loud music and crowds gathered on sidewalks trying to communicate with each other above the din. Lots of patrol cars in this part of town too.

On my street there are some welcome developments. The Broadmoor, which has always been a trouble spot, apparently has new management as evidenced by the 2 stout security guards with sergeant stripes on their sleeves, patroling the sidewalk and standing watch outside the door. But even before that change took place, the drug dealers and general mischief makers who previously owned that sidewalk and entrance to the Broadmoor are gone. A similar group used to be camped out in front of the Northpoint Building, openly selling drugs and intimidating tenants and so far at least, there is no sign of that coordinated activity this year. Unfortunately, the security door to The Northpoint Building is propped open and has been for days. I guess some things never do change.

My appreciation goes out to Commander Rottner and all the officers who were involved in the undercover sting last year because so far at least, there seems to be a dramatic improvement on Bosworth.

Still, as a neighborhood, North of Howard offers very little of the stability and certainty most of us want and need from the place we call home. This neighborhood is in a constant state of flux and that process is not is even close to being complete. Almost all of Howard Street looks like it’s about to get redeveloped and the up zoning possibility on Paulina leaves that street in limbo for now.

We received a cordial letter from James Houlihan the other day. Mr. Houlihan, the Cook County Assessor explains that the average tax bill for a Rogers Park homeowner will increase by 30% if the Homeowners Exemption is not renewed by the State Legislature. Apparently the Homeowner Exemption is set to expire before the 2006 reassessment and is before the State Legislature for renewal.

Of course, this is the double edged sword of an improving neighborhood reflected in escalating values and the subsequent property tax burden that goes along with it. All in all, a 30% increase seems extraordinary for an unstable neighborhood who's future lies in the balance based on decisions that have yet to be made.

The Objective Observer

Inside Out

August 2005