Chicago Grand community works together to solve problems

Date: 
05/06/2016
KulbidaMoreno

Commander Kulbida and Alderman Moreno

Working together to solve issues was the focus of a community meeting facilitated by Chicago Grand Neighbors Association (CGNA) President Lyn Wolfson in the Goldblatt's building, 1625 W. Chicago Ave., Monday evening. The meeting was prompted by an April 23 shooting outside of OUTPUT Lounge and Sports Bar, 1758 W. Grand Ave. 

With more people then chairs, the meeting's main presenters were 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno, 12th District Commander Ed Kulbida and OUTPUT owner Eddie Gutierrrez. 

Liquor establishments
Both Moreno and Kulbida explained the seriousness with which they take improper behavior of liquor establishments. 

After explaining that he has put several establishments in to the Deleterious Impact Ordinance (DIO) process, Moreno said that those actions have caused some to change their business operations and others, such as the Congress Theatre, to go out of business. 

The Commander explained that with 400 liquor establishments and over 150 events, in terms of parties and fests in his District, he along with "one of the best liquor license Sergeants in the City, Sergeant Rebecca Arguelles," take liquor issues very seriously. In fact, since taking his command approximately a year ago, he has shut down two or three establishments under the Summary Closure Ordinance

However, as both the Commander and Alderman emphasized repeatedly, the police can not do much without citizens calling 9-1-1 when there is an incident or suspicious circumstances. Many raised issues about calling 9-1-1.

Emphasizing that it is not the police but the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) that runs the call in center, Kulbida said that if they could not get a proper response that residents should call him at the 12th District, 312.746.8309.

The Shooting
In the case of the shooting, Kulbida said that OUTPUT had no culpability regarding the shooting. He explained that the man outside smoking got into an argument with two other men. He was winning then one of the men was ordered to get a gun. He did and the man who had been in the bar was shot. The shooting victim is a convicted felon who is on Federal parole. 

He stated that it was not a gang against gang incident but rather a personal issue. The incident is an ongoing investigation and maybe discussed in upcoming CAPS meetings. 

One resident asked that since the man shot had been drinking in the bar, "How can you say that the bar is not involved?" 

The Commander responded by asking, "If someone walked out of a Jewel or Mariano's and got into a fight, how could you hold Jewel or Mariano's responsible. There is nothing that the bar did that would enhance what happened outside." 

OUTPUT operations
Moreno said that, aside from small things, he has never had to deal with any medium or large issues at OUTPUT. 

Resident's complaints included: 

  • smoking outside the bar
  • loud music when the doors open
  • people drinking outside
  • beer bottles on the street
  • people throwing beer bottles thru car windows and "our windows"
  • up tick of "bad behavior

From Oct. 27, 2015, to Apr. 27, 2016, Kulbida said there have been 5 calls for service (911 calls) at OUTPUT. Three were for auto accidents, one for a burglar alarm, for which a citation was ordered, and the fifth was an ambulance call. 

Postings on social media and some comments at the meeting caused Gutierrez to explain about his background and how he views his five-year-old business, neighbors and the community. He was very concerned about comments that his establishment attracted gang members as "that is not what I am about." The facts that he cares about the community and neighborhood were confirmed by residents and those who work in the bar part-time and full-time. 

EGutierriez

Eddie Gutierrez

Gutierrez not only supports sports teams in the area with donations for uniforms but he also hosts various organizations such as a CGNA, free of charge. 

One part-time employee stated that he has been in the bar business for a long time and has a young child. "I would not work somewhere that is not safe," he said. 

Gutierrez pointed out that it takes the staff up to a half-hour to 40 minutes. When they leave, there is no one outside and, since there have been complaints, they walk down the street and pickup any trash. 

Neighborhood trash
Other residents on other streets in the West Town area have the same complaints. Solutions in those neighborhoods is that residents participate in the clean up. Often there is not even a bar within several blocks of where the trash is found. 

StaffSpk

OUTPUT staff explained steps they take to clean up after closing

Solutions
Winding up the meeting, Wolfson said that working together to solve problems was what was next. Those solutions include:

  • Putting in resident parking along some of the streets. One resident was circulating a petition for the Alderman to take that action. Moreno indicated that with 65% of the residents agreeing to that, he will gladly take that action.
  • The bar is interviewing people to add to their security staff.
  • The bar will be looking into the issue of noise, be it sound proofing or operations
  • Commander Kulbida indicated that he will work with Gutierrez on
  • The bar owner or staff attend CAPS meetings 
LynWolfson

Lyn Wolfson

"It was a very good meeting," commented Wolfson after the meeting. "Output folks showed genuine concern and desire to be part of the community and not hurting it. They take seriously issues of noise, beer cans and safety into consideration and look for solutions. The community members handled themselves well and brought up reasonable concerns. It was a healthy forum. 

CGNA's next meeting will be in Output on May 

Upcoming CAPS meetings
Wolfson explained that OUTPUT is on the edge of two CAPS districts 1221 and 1215. The next meeting for 1221, which meets in Smith Park, is the first Wednesday of each odd month and for 1215, which meets in the Goldblatt's space, is on the second Thursday of the odd months. Time is 7 to 8 p.m. 

To locate your beat and learn about meeting schedules, go to the City website.

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