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Two meetings scheduled to address Congress Theater activities
Two meetings are scheduled regarding Congress Theater operations at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Logan Square. One is being called for Sun. Apr. 1, at 2 p.m. in the theater by the venue's owner Eddie Carranza. The second is a hearing in City Hall under the Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance Ordinance on Apr. 17, 11:30 a.m. in the Business Affairs and Consumer Protection meeting space on the 8th floor.
On New Year's Eve 2011 the beating and rape of an 18-year-old Highland Park woman focused a light on the activities in and around the theater.Residents around the theater area had, and continue to have, varying opinions about how the business and security is handled. Several media outlets continued to feature the 4,000-plus-seat venue in their headlines about crime. In response to requests to "do something" directed at 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno, his office arranged for a series of meetings that began in January. Over the course of the meetings, community members and other business owners and operators were involved.
As reported to Our Urban Times, there was progress being made in addressing the issues. Then the Theater's representative at the last negotiating meeting changed and negotiations ended, resulting in the Alderman requesting the Apr. 17 hearing.
WBEZ's Jim De Rogatis weighed in with one article and then another. Alisa Hauser in Chicago-Pipeline then began a series of postings which hurled various accusations which prompted requests for accuracy of facts from other community members.
Joe Kopera indicated to this reporter that he and other residents feel that Carranza should be given more time to comply with some requests. He said that Carranza has done good things and indicated that he and other neighbors are interested in helping monitor activities on the streets electronically because they are a good neighbor.
The Congress has many different types of events in their space. The issues around operations and safety appear to focus on a specific type of event. They are the ones with strobe lighting that are advertised to 17 and older, drawing large crowds.
The overall feeling of most local individuals and organizations is that they want to see the Congress succeed and help bring North Milwaukee Ave. into more successful times. This venue may not be next door to you but it does impact the area. We encourage you to be informed with the facts. Let us hope that cool heads prevail on Sunday.