Wicker Park Advisory Council's frustrations could effect your park experience and usage

Date: 
04/04/2013
WPAC1

At the WPAC meeting are Lauren Krebs; Tim Kolecke, President; John Shirk; Scott Venable, Vice Pesident

The Wicker Park Advisory Council (WPAC) members addressed three major issues at their April meeting on Apr. 2 in the Wicker Park Field House, 1425 N. Damen Ave. Frustration was palpable in conversations.  One long-time member left the meeting after only half-an-hour.

The three issues were:

WPAC2

Doug Wood, Secretary; Richard Tilley, Treasurer; Jacob Moore; Adam Housley; Denise Browning; and Dan Puente, Park Supervisor

  • the ongoing challenge to complete the "To Do List" related to illegal behavior, security and vandalism
  • getting the message out as to who and how maintenance and activities happen in the Park
  • engaging more people in keeping a place which they want as a refuge for fun, relaxation and enjoyment  
SRamos

Sylvia Ramos during the Holiday Fountain Decorating event

Status of "To Do List"
Replacement tables were selected and their placement agreed to at the meeting. However, installation will not occur until all 9 items on the "To Do List" from the WPAC March meeting are completed (see below*). 

Table4

This table will have 4 seats

"I don't believe that Cynthia Rosario, the Chicago Park District's (CPD) Area Manager, or her boss (Art Richardson, CPD Central Regional Manager) are interested in or care about Wicker Park. They want to do everything for Humboldt Park and smaller parks where they think that there are more needs. They think that because Wicker has people with money, we can do our own fund raising and get what we need," says long-time resident and community activist Sylvia Ramos, who walked out of the meeting early. 

Map

Red circles show recommended placement of the four tables. Two tables will be in the circle furthest closest to Schiller.

"But, our fund raising and hard work are made more difficult and impossible because the Park District, the Chicago Police Department and Office of Emergency Management do not talk with each other or follow thru on anything! Our efforts are for nothing!

"The Alderman (1st Ward Proco "Joe" Moreno) paid for one camera, has offered to put in a second camera that could be viewed inside the Park, but we can not get anyone to look at the tapes from the existing camera. Nobody can decide who has to write the police reports and then look at the tapes to see who is doing the damage, much less pursue the crime." 

VandUrn

Urn vandalized last weekend

Completion of the "To Do list" continues to wait on Park Security, 14th District Police, OEMC and Park District Legal and Risk Management Departments. 

VandalizedBench

This bench was also vandalized last weekend

Since last weekend, thousands of dollars of damage has once again been inflicted on property paid for by individual donors and tax dollars. To clean up this vandalism will take hundreds of staff and volunteer hours and thousands of dollars. Park staff, reported the incidents to Risk Management.

The Chicago Park District has not responded to the question of what happens with the Risk Management incident reports and the process required to get them to the Chicago Police Department. The Office of Emergency Management has repeatedly stated that they will release the tapes once they receive a police report.

WallVand

Another example of this weekends vandalism

Anyone who sees people doing activity that is contrary to the Chicago Park District's Code of Conduct, please go into the Field House and report it to park staff. Or, call the Chicago Police Department. Police stats do not reflect all the improper park activities because there is a lack of communications between City departments and reports are not going into police stats. In addition, those who have made reports repeatedly, feel that no one is doing anything about it.

Who and how of Wicker Park activities
"No Virginia," the Park District does not:

  • Create, fund, maintain, obtain volunteers for the Wicker Park Gardens
  • Organize, fund, promote, obtain volunteers, run and clean-up after BooPalooza
  • Organize, fund and co-ordinate Park Concerts
  • Organize, fund, obtain volunteers and produce gardening based lectures and workshops
  • Fund, select, obtain volunteers and produce a movie series
  • Fund and produce the puppet show series
  • Fund and produce the Wicker Mic series
  • Fund, acquire assets and maintain dog park
  • Fund, organize, obtain volunteers, co-ordinate the Green Resource Fair
  • Fund and produce senior art classes
  • Organize, fund, obtain volunteers and produce Holiday Fountain Decorating event
  • Organize, fund, promote, obtain volunteers and run Learnapalooza 
These activities are co-ordinated through the WPAC.

The Chicago Park District partners on the above activities by waiving fees and providing space and equipment. The Park's allotted budget includes children's programming for summer camps, weekend sports as well as  morning and afternoon classes for children under 12. There is no funding budgeted for special events or adults, though the staff does restructure their budget for special events like the Easter Bunny event. 

This list shows how imperative it is that more people volunteer to participate in some of the events listed above, sit on the council or be a financial supporter. 

FountainTop

In 4 years, 4 bronze Calla lilies and leaves were ripped from the top of the fountain

Engaging more people in the Park
"How many times have we been cleaning the dog park and people sit on the benches playing with their dog. They watch you as you haul gravel all day as they sit with their iphones," commented Scott Venable to Adam Housley."There are always going to be people who are users and not contributors. But, I think there are some people who would do more things." 

As Juan "Dan" Puente, Wicker Park's Supervisor, explained, "If a community is not behind a park, some really bad things can happen. Gangs take over and it becomes an unsafe place for everybody. It's not just park staff, park staff, everybody has got to look after the space. I was talking to a co-worker in a park that has gotten so bad that they can not even go there to run programming."    

If there are not more people taking some responsibility for the Park, that could happen in Wicker…again. It was not that long ago, 10 to 15 years, when people in the neighborhood would not go into Wicker Park because of those who dominated the Park. 

You can make a difference. When your in the Park, pick-up the trash people have carelessly tossed. Teach your children to do the same. The Park is YOURS! It should be a safe and clean as your own living room. 

Help make all the fun happen. You may have ideas about activities that no one has thought of before. WPAC meetings are monthly at 7 p.m. in the Field House the first Tuesday of the month. All are welcome.

Other Business
Officers for the new year were elected. They are: President, Adam Housley; Vice President, Scott Venable; Secretary, Doug Wood; and Treasurer, Richard Tilley. The complete Board includes the officers, past president and committee chairmen.

*The To Do List:
1.    Set the Procedure for obtaining footage from the two Wicker Park Security cameras for the Park Security Staff and the 14th Police to view. (Thomas Byrne, Director Park Security)

2.    Set the Procedure for reporting incidents and vandalism to the Park District Security and 14th District Police. (Park Security and 14th District Police)            

3.    Obtain a defined timetable of daily security coverage in the park that includes both Park Security and 14th District Police coverage.  (Park Security and 14th District Police)

4.    Identify Funding Sources to support enhanced security provided by Park Security Officers in the park: 1-9 p.m. Monday – Thursday; 1 p.m. – 11 p.m. Friday – Sunday; 11 p.m. – 6 a.m. Thursday-Sunday. Current funding covers M-F from 4:30-8:30 p.m. (Park District, Alderman Moreno)

5.    Obtain a 501c3 fiscal agent to manage the funds solicited for enhanced security. This will give donors a tax incentive.(Doug Wood – WPAC will research options with Parks Foundation and Friends of the Park) -- completed

6.     Develop a site plan for the park with hardscape that is appropriate for the landmark status of the park that doesn’t create groupings of hardscape that invites illegal activities due to poor placement.  The plan is to be welcoming to all park patrons and will allow them to enjoy the park. (Doug Wood – WPAC will create design with Historic Park Design Staff and report to Robert Rejman) -- completed, waiting approval from Park District

7.     Installation of Safe Zone Signs in Parkways on Damen, Schiller, Wicker Park Ave.  (Alderman Moreno) -- in park completed and parkways nearly completed

8. & 9.   Procedure for upholding the Park District Code of Conduct’s protocol to eliminate repeat offenders from the park. Procedures are outlined in the document but details of implementation should be defined so the policy can be enforced in 2013. (Park District Legal and Risk Management Departments) 

Note: This writer is a long-time member of the WPAC

Related:

Comments

As long as the existing

As long as the existing tables are in place, a haven for drug dealing an open drinking prevails.

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