Winter 2011 Alderman Leslie Hairston • 2325 E. 71st Street • Chicago, Illinois 60649 • 773-324-5555 Dear 5th Ward Residents: The start of a new year usually makes me reflective. I decided to share my thoughts on one of the most difficult aspects of being alderman -balancing competing needs. First, there are those of the city vs. those of my ward. I understand we have to gain control of the municipal budget. We cannot keep making promises without the revenues to pay for them, or picking the pockets of taxpayers to make up the difference.
TIFs: Theory Vs. Practice In a 2008 article, Tax Increment Financing in Chicago, Ald. Leslie Hairston acknowledges the good intentions of the state act that created TIFs, which she summarizes “as a mechanism for local governmental units in Illinois to spur economic development, in specific geographic areas that are deteriorating and/or declining, by providing gap financing for projects that would not occur without such public assistance.”
On the other hand, the bad economy is pushing more of our residents into job loss or foreclosures. Our youth have less opportunity to learn marketable skills, less positive alternatives to simply “hanging out.” We are torn between supporting “people” services with benefits we may not “see” for a while vs. concrete projects visible to anyone. In an ideal world, we would be able to address both. In my world, it is a requirement.
However, she cautions, “Basically, the municipality approves the TIF District, so the City of Chicago entirely controls the fund into which all of the incremental tax revenues are directed and does not share any portion with other taxing bodies, such as school districts, library districts, park districts and other governmental entities.”
Fortunately aldermen have resources at our disposal to tailor funds to specific community priorities. In some cases we can create a patchwork that covers the biggest holes, as I was able to THE 71ST ST./STONY ISLAND AVE. TIF do in Grand Crossing and am continuing to do on Stony Island DISTRICT LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR Ave. In other cases it is a Band Aid, as was the case when my BRINGING IN NATIONAL RETAILERS. THE 5TH office paid for parking during the summer at 63rd St. Beach and WARD ALSO SHARES A COUPLE BLOCKS OF THE overnight parking for residents who used the Park District lot at 53RD ST. TIF CREATED BY THE 4TH WARD. 56th St. and South Shore Dr. The parking examples point to another balancing act. We have a very diverse ward, which I love. It constantly forces me to look at issues from different perspectives. Sometimes it is families and individuals on limited incomes. Other times it is presumably better heeled condo dwellers. All deserve equal respect and relief, when possible, from cuts that slice away at their quality of life. Last year marked the completion of major projects I am particularly proud of— Comer College Prep, Greater Grand Crossing Library and getting an Aldi—the first grocery store on Cottage Grove Ave. between 35th and 95th Streets. This newsletter gives more detail about the tools available to bring such dreams to fruition in 2011. I am now looking forward to future possibilities and offer best wishes to you in the coming year. Sincerely, Leslie A. Hairston 5th Ward Alderman
Hairston developed the 73rd St./University Ave. TIF with extensive community input and critical financial support from Gary Comer, the late Land’s End founder who dedicated himself to revitalizing his old Grand Crossing neighborhood. The holistic approach has resulted in completion of several affordable homes, a youth center, renovations to an elementary school, and a newly built charter high school. The 71st St./Stony Island Ave. TIF has paved the way for acquiring blighted buildings, providing prime real estate for developers to attract quality Community Interest - continued on page 3
Biz News ABCs of Ward Funding TIF, SSA, CDBG, NSP often spell confusion to the average citizen. As indicated in the Tax Increment Financing article on page 1, the letters actually stand for taxpayer-funded resources that, coupled with private dollars, can translate into a range of benefits for communities. Currently, the aldermanic menu budgets about $1.3 million for ward infrastructure improvements. Since 2007, Ald. Leslie Hairston has appropriated $5,227,742 primarily toward repair of streets, sidewalks and alleys. This source also paid for decorative lighting on Jeffery Blvd., 67th St., and South Shore Dr. from 53rd to 56th St., in addition to security lights at frequent accident sites along Midway Plaisance and Stony Island Ave.
The federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program enables the acquisition of vacant and foreclosed properties. Hairston is utilizing NSP to demolish eyesores like the old Cheap Store, until recently located on prime Stony Island Ave. land that can now be better marketed for commercial development. In Greater Grand Crossing, NSP transferred deteriorating houses to a developer for rehabbing into affordable homes. Community Development Block Grants generally support people-oriented organizations and services that offer job training for youth and the unemployed, assistance to seniors and those with special needs, or after-school programs. Hairston has also used these grants to enhance the ward’s quality of life, as with some of the beautiful public murals created or restored in Hyde Park by the Chicago Public Art Group.
Study Offers Insights On South Shore Retail Area Despite lingering problems, the South Shore retail area shows promising potential for improvement, according to a study presented last December by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, Special Services Area #42 Board and other local business representatives.
OPERATION GREEN STREETS,
WHICH HIRE HARD TO EMPLOY INDIVIDUALS FOR ENHANCED MAINTENANCE OF COMMERCIAL CORRIDORS, INCLUDING LITTER AND GARBAGE PICK UP, SALTING, SNOW REMOVAL AND POWER CLEANING OF SIDEWALKS.
Special Service Area funds are raised through a modest localized property tax levied within contiguous areas to implement a variety of services and programs above those being provided by the city, as well as small scale capital improvements. Hairston established one of the South Side’s first SSAs in 2007 to support TIF revitalization of commercial corridors along and intersecting with Stony Island Ave. between 67th & 79th Streets and on 71st Street from South Shore Drive to Cottage Grove Ave. “It’s been so successful the surrounding wards have established SSAs to begin this year,” says Anita Winston, SSA #42 program manager for the South Shore Chamber of Commerce. In 2010, her $430,000 budget supported off-duty police patrols credited with reducing crime, regular maintenance to improve safety and appearance, marketing studies and programs, festivals, and employment programs that put over 250 residents to work throughout the community.
The report identifies and offers recommendations regarding market trends, opportunities and challenges for the retail trade area bounded by 67th Street on the north, Lake Michigan on the east, 79th Street on the south and Stony Island Ave. on the west. It also includes basic demographic data about the population within those parameters. Among the findings of the study available at www.southshorechamberinc.org: ¢ South Shore has $251 million in concentrated buying power per square mile—over a half a billion dollars— second highest on the South Side. ¢ Some 5,850 employees of organizations in the area work at 25 large businesses (20+employees) and 678 small businesses. ¢ South Shore’s residential density is a plus. ¢ The efforts of the 3rd Police District and SSA #42 security teams have reduced crime overall by 11 percent, although the crime rate still creates negative perceptions. ¢ A high concentration of vacancies and poorly maintained buildings poses a major barrier, as does competition between a large number of retail corridors in the area.
- continued from page 1 businesses like those now boosting the ward’s major retail corridor. These funds also went into building the new South Shore High School, which is technically in the 8th Ward. Community Interest
Explains Hairston, “The TIF Act allows for the use of incremental property taxes from one district to be used to pay for costs in other contiguous districts. This ‘portability’ is dangerous on many levels”—among them lack of transparency, no true accounting of available funds and the potential for appropriation to politically favored wards. “When a TIF District is created there are public hearings, planning sessions and other opportunities for citizens and community organizations to voice their support, concern and/objections,” reminds Hairston. “There are no concrete guidelines for additional hearings or community approval after the TIF has been approved and before the revenue is ‘earmarked’ for expenditure. Projects that were the basis for the creation of the TIF are either put at the end of the expenditure list or ignored altogether.” Because of “porting,” Hairston says 5th Ward residents have yet to see streetscaping they expected. “It’s a slap in the face to the ward that generated these taxes—those of us who worked to attract new businesses to contribute to the TIF, as well as current businesses and residents who hashed out criteria and priorities for what they wanted.” Among her recommendations for fixing TIFs are holding them to their original purpose, greater judicial scrutiny to determine legitimacy, definitive plans and measurable goals, standards and timeframes for determining and reviewing “porting,” and identifying the “decision tree” when various governmental bodies earmark uses that conflict with uses approved through the community planning process.
“Go To Guy” For Hassle-Free Shopping If 71st Street near Jeffery Blvd. appears more welcoming to lawabiding citizens, there could be several reasons why. For starters, crime has trended downward throughout the ward in most categories. In addition, Ald. Leslie Hairston convened major parties— Jeffery Plaza property manager Grubb & Ellis, Walgreens, Urban Partnership Bank, CTA and police representatives—to develop a comprehensive strategy for dealing with negative behavior.
Be In The Know
Free Flu Shot Service Expanded The Dept. of Health & Human Services and Walgreens have added a new component to their free flu vaccine service. Offices and events can now schedule pharmacists to provide shots on site. For more information, go to www.chicagohan.org, or contact Ivan Story at 312-7465391 or email@example.com.
Overnight Parking Ban
SGT. PHILIP DE LUCA CONFERS OUTSIDE THE JEFFERY PLAZA DOMINICK’S WITH DEVAR STIFF, THE STORE'S LOSS PREVENTION OFFICER. A 16-YEAR VETERAN OF THE PRIVATE SECURITY BUSINESS, DE LUCA VOLUNTEERED FOR RESCUE MISSIONS IN NEW YORK CITY AFTER 911 AND IN NEW ORLEANS FOLLOWING HURRICANE KATRINA.
Hairston recently negotiated the closing of Jeffery Food & Tobacco, long a magnet for illegal activity resulting in several arrests. Prior to that, Grubb & Ellis contracted with Total Security Management, whose site supervisor, Sgt. Philip De Luca III, attends beat and CAPS meetings, as well as keeps abreast of related court dates so he, Hairston and community advocates can attend hearings of offenders. The territory De Luca patrols with three other guards extends from 71st to 72nd Streets between Merrill Ave. and Jeffery Blvd. They serve homeGo To Guy - continued on page 4
Chicago’s overnight winter parking ban is in effect from 3:00 a.m. until 7:00 a.m. until April 1, 2011. Cars may be towed from major streets regardless of snow. Two such thoroughfares in the ward are Midway Plaisance from Cottage Grove to Dorchester Ave. and Payne Dr. from Midway Plaisance to Morgan Dr. Further details can be found at www.cityofchicago.org.
Be A Court Advocate Sign up at the 5th Ward Service Office to join the court advocates who help prevent cases against arrested individuals from being dismissed. Upcoming court dates are February 15 and 24. Call 773-324-5555 for more information.
Still “Got Game” At 101 Ruby Redd McFarland has witnessed much history in her 101 years. It was among the subjects she taught in elementary schools in her native Mississippi before marrying and moving to Chicago. She discussed it in her classes back in the 1930’s at Southern Christian Institute, from which she graduated with an associate of arts degree, and later as she continued her education at Wilson Junior College, Chicago Teachers College and Loyola University. She has shaped history. Among several positions she held with City of Chicago agencies, she was director of one of the Chicago Park District’s first senior citizens centers. She was as an election judge for some 45 years and organized events to educate her neighbors about the political process and importance of voting. She will indulge the RUBY REDD curious who wish to MCFARLAND glean nuggets of wisdom WEARS HER BULLS from a woman who has BASKETBALL TEAM lived so long, complains “WARMER” IN THE only of a problematic HYDE PARK HOME SHE SHARES WITH foot and wrist, goes to YOUNGEST church nearly every DAUGHTER PORTIA Sunday, and has a MCFARLAND. mind sharper than a tack. But if you happen to catch her during her favorite pastime, her advice may run more along the lines of, “Shoot! Shoot! Yes! That’s what I'm talking about.” She loves watching basketball, having once played and coached the sport. She cites her most memorable moment as Harold Washington becoming mayor, but one suspects the emergence of Bulls superstar Derrick Rose ranks almost as high. She cheers her team with humor and vitality that communicate why she doesn't consider herself history.
- continued from page 3 delivery people, residents and police officers, as well as some 20 businesses the area encompasses. One happens to be a Dominick's, which De Luca’s grandfather, Dominick Rago, established with Dominick DeMateo. Go To Guy
“My family’s from the Roseland/ Clearing area,” De Luca says. “Both Dominicks owned Certified stores there before they got together and started their own grocery. My grandfather wanted his seven grandkids to learn the business. I worked for him briefly.” But after Rago’s death, the chain was sold. De Luca had other dreams anyway. “Uncle Joe De Luca was a Cook County Deputy Sheriff. The first time I saw him in uniform—I was six—I knew what I wanted to do.”
ANNOUNCEMENTS Office Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Residents can meet privately with the alderman from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) Friday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Ward Office Closed: Lincoln’s Birthday Friday, February 11 Washington’s Birthday, Monday, February 21 Pulaski Day Monday, March 7
Upcoming Ward Meetings: (All meetings begin at 6:00 p.m.) Tuesday, February 22 No ward meeting - Election Day Tuesday, March 22
De Luca acknowledges, “It’s a challenge making my little section of neighborhood crime free. You lock up one guy, and someone else takes his place. The best part of my job is getting to interact with the community, being the ‘go to guy.’ It’s my mission to make this the family-style center where people used to shop in safety without constantly being badgered.”
Tuesday, April 26 Please call 5th Ward Service Office for change in previously announced meeting sites DON’T FORGET TO VOTE! Early Voting January 31 - February 17 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m 5th Ward Location Jackson Park Field House, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave. Monday - Saturday Chicago Board of Elections 69 W. Washington St. Lower Level Conference Room Every day (including Sundays and holidays)
ALD. LESLIE HAIRSTON SERVED AS A BUS GUIDE SOUTH SHORE DEMO TOUR ADDED TO LAST YEAR'S SOUTH SHORE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING FESTIVITIES. THE CHAMBER WELCOMES DOCENTS TO GUIDE
General Municipal Elections February 22
VISITORS ON FUTURE SNAPSHOTS OF THE HISTORIC CULTURAL, ARCHITECTURAL AND VISUAL DIVERSITY
For further information contact the 5th Ward Service Office 773-324-5555 or visit the Web site at www.cityofchicago.org/ward5/
THE COMMUNITY HAS TO OFFER.
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