Saturday, March 29, 2008

We'll Take $43 Million, You Can Have An Orange Cone

One year ago, park goers reported this dangerous, 4-foot-deep sink hole in Uptown’s Clarendon Park to the City and Park District. They received an orange cone.

Over the winter, the orange cone disappeared into the abyss and snow drifts covered the hole.

This Spring, the dangerous 4-foot-deep sink hole reemerged from beneath the thawing snow. Park goers again reported the sink hole. They received another orange cone.

Upon further inspection, we see an arched metal structure down that hole. Park goers surmise that this is either:

1. A “spider hole” where Alderman Helen Shiller hides from Uptown block clubs

2. Blighted underground infrastructure (dare we say water pipes or sewers?) such as those which justified the Wilson Yard TIF, but which $43 Million and 8 years have not fixed. Instead our TIF funds, which are supposed to be used to fix that blight, have been diverted to pay for non-blight projects including

a. 2 low-income housing high rises, which are noble causes, but which the City and State should pay for out of their own budgets.

b. A CTA Park-&-Ride Facility – which brings nothing but traffic congestion to our Uptown neighborhood

c. A City College Parking garage so that students – not from our TIF neighborhood - can drive to school and park for free.

For you disbelievers, go to Google Maps, type in "748 West Montrose Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60640”, and choose the “Street Views” photo. There you can view last year’s orange cone.

Have a cone and watch where you walk.


  1. We're moving to Uptown in about 8 weeks after our condo is done being built, so I've been reading your site pretty frequently. I'm really impressed with the sense of civic responsibility that people seem to take when it comes to this neighborhood. Despite the negative aspects of Uptown, I'm looking forward to meeting such involved people.

    That being said, do you think consistent calls to 311 might get something moving on this? Maybe we need to get the "press" involved? This is a serious danger, someone could easily break an ankle or leg and sue the city for much more than it would cost to repair this.

  2. Welcome to the neighborhood, B! Uptowners rock. Although the-powers-that-be want to ignore it, we are here because we want to live in a truly diverse community. We are here because we are interesting ourselves and we want to meet other interesting people. We are also urbanists and we see so much potential for this neighborhood, if only...

    Studs Terkel once told a congregated group of his neighbors at an event in which ONE participated that he would sometimes have a nightmare that he lived in some cookie-cutter place where everyone dressed the same and acted the same and all of the buildings looked the same. But, then he would wake up and realize that he was in his bed in Uptown and realize all was right in the world. His little story was probably a bit of an exaggeration but the sentiment was true enough.

    The two problems with Uptown are that we have a lot of unfair power-grabbing that should stop in favor of a more democratic process and that we have a leader with an ideology but no workable plan that flows from it. While the underlying principles of social justice for all, equality and diversity are good ones, the method through which they are being pursued is just untenable. Robin Hooding to the extent that it is happening here just won't last because Uptown is not an island and it bankrupts the underlying principles of equality that provide the moral justification for this behavior.

  3. Do you think we would go to jail if we used spray paint to create a community "safety and neighborhood pride" mural around the hole in order to alert passersby?

  4. Shouldn't every cone and sinkhole have rights too? hehee

  5. Look, you know damn well that by fixing the sinkhole, you're going to drive up property values and force out lower income families from the neighborhood. Shame on you. Where's your sense of social justic?

  6. Okay - this is very simple - it worked for me to get the sidewalk in front of the firehouse on Wilson fixed -

    Someone needs to sprain an ankle, in plain sight of a parks official or other city rep, and vaguely refer to lost time at work while holding back the pain....

    Presto - it gets fixed!

    Okay, so what really happened is that I tripped on the uneven sidewalk in front of the fire station, the nice paramedics iced my ankle and taped me up. I signed a release form because I was pretty sure I didn't need to go to the hospital, and there was no "time off of work" issue since I work sitting down. But I did report it to 311, and since injury was involved, in less than 2 weeks the sidewalk was repaired.

  7. Downstate folks buy concrete geese for their front porches and dress them in costumes for for each holiday and season.

    I believe we should adopt our precious Orange Cone and make it into a community identity statement. Perhaps the Park District could have dressing events involving local school children, who compete to come up with the best Cone Dud of the month.

    How's that for turning a negative into a positive for all you folks who think we gripe too much?

  8. Studs Terkel once told a congregated group ...he would sometimes have a nightmare that he lived in some cookie-cutter place where everyone dressed the same.

    How ironic that he said that. For all the years he rode the bus, I never saw him without his trademark red gingham checked cotton shirt.

  9. dressed the same as everyone else. being true to yourself...a person of steady habits may be a virtue.

  10. Has anyone called the alderman's office on this lately? I live in the 48th so I guess my calls won't be returned.

    Is Shiller just obstinate and mean? Why is fixing a dangerous condition in a public park a partisan matter? I thought the whole purpose of the public parks in Chicago was so that rich and poor alike could enjoy green space and gather with their friends and families to enjoy nature? All joking aside, how committed to people really think she is to poorly maintaining public spaces so as not to further attract wealthier Chicagoans? I would think given her "reality" that she would be more of the mind to say...these people deserve a healthy environment and a great place to live and I am going to help them get it...and if you want to live here too then you must realize that there must be a place for everyone.

    Over and over again, I fail to see how being a stand-up vocal advocate for one group of residents means always standing against the requests and concerns of another group. Why not pursue the common ground issues but hold a firm line on things that only benefit wealthier residents if that is your agenda. I just don't get it!

  11. Beware the sinkhole and cone in the street on the corner of Lawrence and Kenmore (SW corner). Maybe these cones are reproducing and spreading throughout Uptown to alert our community to the sinkholes that are attempting to overtake our neighborhood?

  12. other historic neighborhoods do posters of the "doors" of their neighborhood. I guess we need a poster of "the cones" of Uptown.

  13. Clarendon Park is the park whose Fieldhouse (shown in the background of this photo) Shiller turned into a homeless shelter when she first took office. I don't think she cares about other public uses of this public park space.

  14. I like the Cones of Uptown concept. Can we get $65,000 from our TIF to pay for it?

  15. Uptown Update is a joke. Everything that happens in Uptown is not Helen's fault. Call 311 and report the darn hole.

    Just like eveything in Chicago isn't Mayor Daley's fault.

    Does Helen even know of the hole and if she does is it the Alderman's job or the Parks Dept to fix this issue.

    The more negative things you post about HS the more I can understand why she will keep winning elections.

    If you don't like Uptown move no one is holding you hostage. I moved and purchased her about two years ago and it's a great place to live.

    But then I lived in other wards prior to moving her so I have a little Chicago experience probably more than Uptown Update.

  16. Hey fool. Can you read? It was reported last year and again this year, per the first post. Don't let your emotions get ahead of your brain.

  17. The alderman and her staff and Ward Superintendent know what has been reported to 311 because the Alderman is granted access to the 311 database and can get reports for her own ward.

    We found that out years ago when Fly-dumping Don Nowatny, her Ward Superintendent, was caught knocking off all the 311 city service requests for areas in this Ward located North of Irving Park. Sad, but true.

  18. "Clarendon Park ... Fieldhouse ... Shiller turned into a homeless shelter ... "


    a Chicago Park District fieldhouse turned into a homeless shelter?

    what's the story on this?

  19. I don't think the field house itself was ever a homeless shelter, but when I first moved to Clarendon Park almost 5 years ago, the park on the outside was a place for many homeless to sleep on warm nights.

    Residents pressed the police and the park district to enforce the 11pm curfew and the numbers have dwindled in recent years.

    Unfortunately, the homeless have been replaced by gangbangers.

  20. call 311 on the hole and get a tracking number and then you can call back and ask about the status of the repair. if someone calls and does this, pls post. i dont know enough about where this hole is to do that

  21. I don't think the field house itself was ever a homeless shelter, but when I first moved to Clarendon Park almost 5 years ago, the park on the outside was a place for many homeless to sleep on warm nights.

    --- As they do in other parks in other neighborhoods I used to live in Chicago, this is not special to Uptown. Unforgently there are homeless people and less fortunate people in Chicago.

  22. Speaking of Clarendon Park, Friday night there was another shooting. Heard four or five gunshots and called 911. I was told by some neighbors the cops were immediately, even before my call could've gone through the system.

  23. I don't think other parks had around a hundred people sleeping in them like we had in the park between Wilson & Montrose. There were tents everywhere. Sure I've seen homeless sleeping in other parks throughout the city, but nothing anywhere like I saw here. Thanks God it's stopped.

  24. It's really hard to know unless you visit all parks. You have to remember a lot of the homeless used to sleep on lower Wacker pre the re-contruction.

    Homeless is a big issue they have to go somewhere and it is a City issue.

    Part of living in the City comes with having to deal with this no matter how bad you don't like it.

    A lot of people have tried to help these people but some of them don't want to get help.

    What do you do lock them all up? Ticket them? I don't but there is no easy solution.

  25. Wrongo, Neighborhood Newbies. This alderman actually changed the Clarendon Fieldhouse into a homeless shelter. Sleeping in the parks came later.

  26. I used to drive down Lake Shore Drive from Hollywood Blvd to the South Shore back in 2002 and although I saw homeless people here and there, it's when I glanced over to Wilson that I saw close to a hundred of them sleeping in their tents. It's not the case now, but I remember it well. They came from lower Wacker Drive when da mayor forced them out in 1996 for the Democratic Convention.

    Where are they going to go? Well, I know they shouldn't all go to Uptown. I'm all for us doing our fair share.

  27. I think we all agree that there's no simple solution for homelessness. That's part of the reason there's a huge task force set up to deal with the challenges these people face.

    Sleeping in the park is no solution. How quickly we forget that, just six months ago, a homeless man sleeping on an Uptown bench was shot and killed. The police believe his murder was a gang initiation. No, definitely not advantageous to be sleeping outside these days.

    Someone mentioned that some of the people sleeping in the park don't want to go to shelters. Well, that's their choice. Some have been banned from the shelters for disruptive behavior; some choose to drink rather than go to a shelter, where that's prohibited.

    But because they choose not to go to a shelter (and there are ALWAYS beds available to them, even on the coldest nights), it doesn't give them carte blanche to live in the park. What's that old bar call? "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." Well, you don't have to go to a shelter, but you can't stay in the park.

    (Heck, if the parks are fair game for the citizenry of Chicago to live in, I'll just put up a little guest house, right next to the dog park, and live there myself.)

    It's not safe to live outdoors. It's not legal to live in the park.

    And most important: There are literally HUNDREDS of social services here in Uptown to help those down on their luck, so it's not that help isn't available for the asking.

    Really, to have people living on the streets of Uptown either means a complete failure of the vast social services network that Ald. Shiller has helped facilitate, or enabling on the part of The Powers That Be. Or both.

  28. Yes people do sleep on the streets other places but what is unique about Uptown is that those people are relocated to here. The police squadrol picks up the crimminally mentally violent for the area and takes them to Lake Shore Hospital for meds to settle them down. Then they are discharged into the park. They don't get a ride back to their home turf.

    The people living under Wacker Drive are relocated here. There have been Trib and Sun Times articles documenting this.

    One can watch buses from other areas unload busloads of people on Wilson Avenue and near the park. There was a new busload that arrived with new faces just two weeks ago.

    Although shelter services does take individuals to other shelters when our are full, I do not know of any whole scale bussing operations that operate to relocate people out of Uptown like they do to bring them in here.