Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Ox & Oona Pet Supply Store to Hold Grand Opening On July 31st

Got pets? A reader asked us to let you know about a new locally owned pet supply store, which will be holding its Grand Opening this Saturday.

"Ox and Oona is a small store focusing largely on dogs; they carry a limited range of highly rated dog food, and have a small selection for cats (but the nice lady at the shop assured me they are happy to do special orders). A great addition to Uptown!"

Ox & Oona is located at 4407 North Hazel, between Food Town and TAE Cleaners. It's closed Mondays and Tuesdays; on weekdays the hours are 10:30am to 7:30pm, and on weekends they are open 11am-6pm.

According to the website, "Ox & Oona strives to be a fun place to visit with your pup! We aim to sell food, treats, and toys that are natural, nutritious, fun, and fresh. We seek out vendors that are local, sustainable, and made in the USA. And of course, all of our products are personally tested and approved by Ox and Oona."

And according to the Facebook page, it's party time this Saturday: "Our grand opening party will be July 31st! We will have freebies, raffles, treats, sales, and more! We are looking forward to celebrating our wonderful community. Thank you for all of your support - we’ll see you there!"

Get Your Fresh Food at JASC Fresh Market

In the mood for delicious fresh food? The Japanese American Service Committee is having a Fresh Market on the second and fourth Thursday afternoons of the month through October 29th.

JASC says:

"When you enter our small indoor market from the main Clark Street entrance, 4427 N. Clark Street, you’ll find fresh vegetables and prepared foods from the following and more:

JASC employs health protocols per the recommendation of city, state & federal health officials:

  • No mask, no entry – mask must cover nose and mouth and be worn at all times.
  • JASC indoor gatherings are limited to 50 people
  • Please maintain a 6′ distance from others

Any questions? Contact Joan Ambo- jambo@jasc-chicago.org 773-275-0097 ext. 228"

Work (and Some Traffic Closures) Begins On CTA's Rebuilding of the Red/Purple Lines

Ainslie viaduct looking toward Winthrop

No doubt about it! The CTA's long-planned RPM (Red and Purple Modernization) project that will completely rebuild the L between Leland and Bryn Mawr is finally underway. 

Much of the initial work is taking place in Edgewater, since the project will progress from the north to the south. But that doesn't mean CTA will sit around and ignore Uptown. We've got stuff goin' on.

  • Crane Lifts on Ainslie between L tracks and Winthrop: On Thursday, July 29, between 9am and 4pm, there will be crane lifts and the short stretch of Ainslie between the train viaduct and Winthrop Avenue will be closed to vehicular and bike traffic. At least one sidewalk will be open for pedestrians.

    The contractor will provide alternative parking for impacted residents. If you need further information about alternative parking and temporary parking passes, please contact the contractor, Walsh-Fluor, at 708-253-9772. There will be noise while work is being performed, including general construction noise; noise from rail equipment and a crane; beeping for backup alarms on vehicles; and flagging horns. (Backup work dates are July 30 and 31.)
  • Alley Closures due to Embankment Demolition and Track-Level Barrier Installation: Work hours will be 7am-7pm Mondays through Saturdays. The process will, unfortunately, last for weeks and be loud.

    Crews will work north to south and will block access to the alleys and garages/parking spaces during stated work hours. Access to garages/parking spaces will be available at the end of each workday. The contractor will provide alternative parking for impacted residents. If you need further information about alternative parking, please contact the contractor, Walsh-Fluor, at 708-253-9772.

    The contractor will maintain garbage and recycling pickup. The contractor will implement the necessary dust mitigation procedures.

    There will be noise while work is being performed. Noise will include general construction noise; loud noise and vibration from driving sheet pile at track level; loud noise from track and embankment demolition; beeping for backup alarms on vehicles; and flagging horns.

    Here are the affected areas and dates:

    • The alley behind 5100 - 5258 N. Winthrop Avenue (Winona Street to Berwyn Avenue):
      Monday, July 19 to Friday, September 24.
    • The alley behind 4900 - 5062 N. Winthrop Avenue (Winona Street to Ainslie Street):
      Monday, July 26 to Friday, September 24.
    • The alley behind 4800 - 4848 N. Winthrop Avenue (Ainslie Street to Lawrence Avenue): 
      Monday, August 2 to Friday, October 1.
  • If you'd like to see the beginning of intense demo on the project, this weekend from Friday night until Monday morning, the train viaduct on Bryn Mawr will be demolished. Bryn Mawr will be closed.

Toddler Reported Missing From Uptown Has Been Located

Happy Update: According to CBS Chicago, "On Tuesday, police with the Lincoln District said the child was never missing, and has been at a shelter the entire time with his mother and family." We are happy Tristan is safe!

Original Post:
One-year-old Tristan Whigham was reported missing from the 4800 block of Marine Drive on Monday evening.

He's approximately 2 feet tall and weighs 40 pounds, and he has black hair and brown eyes.

If you can help the Special Victims Unit detectives with information that could help locate him, please call 9-1-1 or 312-744-8266.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

National Night Out Is Tuesday, August 3rd

"Be Aware" Webinar To Focus on Carjackings, Catalytic Converter Theft, and Burglaries

Officer James Olszanski from the Chicago Police Department's 12th District will present general crime prevention tips and strategies, and Officer Traccye Love of the Oak Park Police Department will provide prevention tips on vehicular hijackings, residential and garage burglaries and, catalytic converter theft.

This webinar will take place on Wednesday, July 28th at 6pm via Zoom

Thursday, July 22, 2021

City Council Gives Thumbs Up On Financing For New Courtenay School Play Space

The Play  Space for All Committee, with Principal Macquline King and Ald. Cappleman

rendering of the proposed play space (click to enlarge)

The City Council voted to put the final piece in place at yesterday's monthly meeting, and now it's official: After years of brainstorming and fundraising, Courtenay Language Arts Center (4420 North Beacon) is getting a new play space!

The City Council voted that Courtenay will receive $2.1 million from the Clark/Montrose TIF, which will go for playground resurface improvements, equipment upgrades, a new playfield, running track, and nature area. Work will be completed by summer 2023.

In his June 24 newsletter, Ald. Cappleman said:

"Last Friday, I was honored to join Courtenay Elementary School's Principal King and the Play Space for All Committee to hear an exciting announcement: Courtenay is one step closer to their fully renovated playground and outdoor space! I started working with Principal King and Play Space for All over four years ago to secure money for the Courtenay playground renovations. 

We had a number of fundraisers over the years where the community showed up and showed their support - thank you! Finally, this past month, the City's TIF Investment Committee approved the use of $2.1 Million from the Clark Montrose TIF to make this dream a reality. The last step is for me to carry this over the finish line through City Council Approval.

This funding, once approved, will create a nature walk space and a new playground.  The nature walk will include an accessible path, native plants, and spaces for outdoor learning opportunities. The new playground will emphasize full accessibility for all students with athletic space, play spaces, and interactive equipment. Students of all ages and abilities will be able to enjoy the Courtenay play space!  

The Play Space for All Initiative has only been possible thanks to the dedicated efforts of Courtenay's Principal, staff, families, and neighbors.  Thank you for your support of Courtenay students and for all the energy you have brought to making an accessible playground and nature walk a reality! 

I will provide more updates as the project progresses and I can't wait to celebrate these new play spaces with all of you!"

Congratulations, Courtenay Tigers and everyone who worked so hard to make this happen.

Meet State Rep. Harris and State Sen. Simmons At Clarendon Park


Please reach out to Izzy at izzy@senatormikesimmons.com for more information. 

The Aragon's Ground Floor Terra Cotta Gets Some TLC

A building permit has been issued to the Aragon Ballroom (Lawrence and Winthrop) to stabilize the terra cotta pieces on the ground floor and identify loose ones. Pieces that are in jeopardy of falling off will be removed and labelled, presumably for later reattachment. The cost of the project is estimated to be $50,000.

The Aragon is nearly a century old; it opened for the first time in 1926.

In this photo you can also see the new scored walkways at the intersection, which will enhance pedestrian safety on a stretch of Lawrence where the stop signs have been long regarded as suggestions rather than places for drivers to make full stops.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

An Elected Police Oversight Board Passes The City Council, Goes Into Effect January 1, 2022

Today the City Council approved a ground-breaking ordinance that will create an elected board of Chicago residents to oversee the Chicago Police Department, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and the Police Board. 

The coalitions behind the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) and Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) ordinances joined with one another to create the Empowering Communities for Public Safety Ordinance (ECPS). 

It's the first time such far-reaching police oversight reform has been enacted in a major city.

The ordinance needed 34 votes to pass, and passed 36-13. All three Uptown aldermen (Cappleman, Martin, and Osterman) voted in favor of it.

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th Ward), a chief sponsor of the ordinance, said in a statement:

"It is vital to the success of both our City and our Police Department that community members are empowered with a voice in the policy, accountability, direction, and leadership of CPD and its accountability agencies.
This long overdue ordinance will allow civilians to enact serious positive changes within the current police accountability system, and to ensure that their needs are being met by those individuals who are sworn to protect them."

The "no" votes on the Council came from Alds. Beale, Burke, Gardiner, Hopkins, Napolitano, Nugent, O'Shea, Quinn, Reboyras, Reilly, Sposato, Tabares, and Daley Thompson. (Ald. Villegas did not attend the meeting.)

It becomes effective on January 1, 2022.

4600 N. Marine Passes City Council, Slated to Become Uptown's Gateway to Wilson Avenue

Ald. Cappleman on Twitter: "Earlier today, two 46th Ward zoning proposals passed through City Council. I'll keep you updated as construction begins." (click to enlarge)

With the City Council voting approval at its meeting today, the lightly-used Weiss Hospital parking lot at Wilson and Marine will become the site of a new residential development. 

The profits from the sale of the large lot will enable the hospital to continue its necessary and innovative services to the residents of Uptown and the surrounding communities, as well as finance and ensure permanent housing for homeless women with a $3.1 million contribution to Sarah's Circle. 

Sarah's Circle, whose motto is "Ending Homelessness For Women," is currently planning a third facility just a few blocks away from the hospital at Lakeside and Sheridan, in the same block club area as Weiss Hospital (Lakeside Area Neighbors Association). That is where the $3.1 million contribution will go.

Weiss prepared for the loss of the parking lot by recently upgrading its parking structure on Clarendon, expanding parking capacity, making the structure operate more efficiently, and creating higher profits for the hospital.

As regular readers know, the development of the parking lot was supported by many in the neighborhood, but opposed by some of Uptown's loudest and most persistent voices, who oppose new market-rate housing at any cost. Critics cited a nonexistent threat to the future of Weiss Hospital and "gentrification" as reasons to oppose the development.

Scaremongering about Weiss's supposed closure flies in the face of its stated commitment to the community, and the large sums of money that its owner has invested into the hospital in the past couple years to make its services more unique and more cutting edge. As Weiss's CEO, Irene Dumanis, stated in an open letter to the community last month:

"Weiss Memorial Hospital has a proud history in this North Side community, and we’re committed to building on that legacy in the years to come. [...]

Our parent company Pipeline has made over $40 million in investments over the last two years, including

That doesn’t count the millions invested in system upgrades for telemetry, new imaging and radiology equipment and other facility upgrades.  

Weiss is also continuing to bring on more physicians and staff, including a new Women's Health Program that opened in 2020, and a breast surgeon who joined the new program just this month. 

We are already the largest employer in the Uptown area, with over 700 employees, and we anticipate we will continue to hire more physicians and staff to support our growth."

You can read the full letter here.

Despite personally lobbying local residents, block clubs, and aldermen across the city, opponents failed to stop the development at any of the critical stages. After a controversial run through the local 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee, the development comfortably cleared the City's Plan Committee, the Zoning Committee, and today, the full City Council. 

In committee hearings, aldermen in surrounding communities confirmed Weiss's value to their constituents and probed deeply into the hospital's continued viability. Ald. Osterman voted in favor of the development, joining Ald. Cappleman.

Now that this new 12-story gateway to Uptown's center is greenlit and will be built, we will see capital improvements to Weiss Hospital and a third Sarah's Circle building serving its clientele by providing residences for numerous at-risk women who would otherwise have nowhere else to go.

Another great day for Uptown's future.

Demolition of Lawrence Red Line Platform To Begin On Monday

 A two-week project to demolish the platform at the now-closed Lawrence Red Line station will begin on Monday, July 26th.

The station, which closed last May, was built in 1923 and was operating long past its useful life. The $2.1 billion project known as the Red Purple Modernization (RPM) Program will totally overhaul all tracks, embankments, platforms, and stations between Leland and Bryn Mawr.

Demolition work will go on between 7am and 7pm on weekdays, and possibly the weekend, through Friday, August 6th.

According to the CTA, this is how the area around the station will be impacted:

  • There will be traffic lane shifts with flagger assistance within the work zones until the work is completed.
  • The parking lane on both sides of Lawrence Avenue will be closed within the work zone. 
  • Sidewalk closures within the work zone will alternate between the north and south sides of the street.
  • Alley access via W. Lawrence Avenue will be prohibited. 
  • Alley access via W. Ainslie Street to the north and W. Leland Avenue to the south will be maintained.
  • There will be noise while work is being performed, including:
  • General construction noise
  • Noise from demolition
  • Beeping for backup alarms on vehicles

Bike The Drive Is Back For Labor Day

Are you ready to Bike The Drive again? 

After a cancellation in 2020, and a postponement in 2021, Bike The Drive is back on Labor Day Sunday, pushed back from its traditional Memorial Day time slot.

The ride begins at 5:30am on Sunday, September 5th, and concludes at 10am. Bikes and ebikes take over DuSable Lake Shore Drive for the duration, between Bryn Mawr to the north and 57th Street to the south. 

Riders can pedal a 30-mile loop from Bryn Mawr Avenue on the north to 57th Street on the south -- or any portion of it -- with a festival afterwards at Grant Park and rest stops along the way. Those who track their mileage on their smartphones can receive a medal for completing all 30 miles.

The closest entrances to Uptown are at Bryn Mawr and Fullerton.

Interested? Register and get more information here.