Thursday, June 26, 2008

Broken Promises? Challenger Park

In 1992, Challenger Park -- running along the east wall of Graceland Cemetery -- was dedicated. The Tribune wanted the empty area that was originally there converted to Cubs parking. The neighbors wanted a park.
Ald. Shiller promised: "The Cubs get to use the lot for parking 20 percent of the year. During the rest of the year, the area will have four half-court basketball courts, soccer fields, and, in the winter, an ice skating rink."
Uptown Update took a drive along the soccer field / basketball courts / skating rink last week to see how they turned out. Promises kept?


  1. Well, I think I saw a basketball hoop there one time. Or maybe someone had a portable one and dragged it out there. Not sure. But the homeless and the dogs sure love it!

  2. So . . . . do you really want such a park, or are you conveniently using its current state of nonbeing as another convenient reason to beat up Helen Shiller? If Helen did put in the park, you'd be bashing her when it turned into a hangout for gang members, or if it wasn't kept up to your liking. Lame!

  3. Ok, I am going to try and be mature but I just have to say it..

    I don't know what's scarier the condition of the park or the black and white photo of Helen.

    In all fairness to the park It does get pretty icy back there in the winter. You could ice skate if you really tried. Also that one rim that is hanging sideways can still be used, every here of a hook shot?

    Have we no imagination? You see two shopping carts, I see a soap box derby in the making!

    Yeah for Helen!

  4. BillyJoe I am not about bashing her but it is fair when she promises and doesn't deliver she needs to be held accountable just like I am at my job or I get fired.

    Also she has played so many angles to keep her power and people like me that work hard to buy a condo are tired of paying her salary and our huge taxes, when Uptown continues to be run down compared to other wards.

  5. It's about her promising ANYTHING to get the projects she wants built, and not following through. After all, who could object to a Cubs land grab when it meant recreational activities for the kiddies -- all year long?

    Except there never were any. Except in HelenPromiseLand.

  6. Billy Joe lives in Evanston people. Keep that in mind. HE DOES NOT LIVE IN UPTOWN.... LOL He obviously is on some sort of government welfare program with nothing else to do but poke sticks in folks eyes.

    However, in his defense....when he takes his Lithium, he can be quite pleasant.

    And yes, Helen is a big ole liar... and I only hope whomever is running against here is starting to keep a list of promises made, quotes made, etc so we have great material to send out in the next election. Whether she is the candidate or her son...

  7. is that the word? that her son is going to run???

  8. Out of curiosity, where would you put soccer fields? If the 20% number is approximate, then I assume the Cubs were supposed to have it just for the games, not the whole summer. There are 81 home games in a season. Hopefully a few more this year.

    So how would you put in soccer fields? I understand the basketball courts, those nets just need some TLC.

  9. One person's trash is another person's treasure.

    Tink flew over my apartment last night and I caught her in my trap. She bought her freedom.

    Tink granted me one pound of fairy dust and she accepted that she never fly over my apartment again lest she plan to pay my, now known, toll.

    To my astonishment, Tink pledged to return to pass over my apartment and pay my toll. Tink prefers my toll compared to the drug solicitations, sex solicitations and bullets that she must endure to fly over neighboring apartments.

    Tink asked that I use the fairy dust and sprinkle it over areas of Uptown that need to be safe for her travels. There are children with imaginations that she cannot reach. She tries to endure the troubles at times because the children need her. She wishes to take them to Anywhere But Here Land before they make the trip to Never Never Land.

    Please help Tink. I will sprinkle the dust already collected over the area allegedly known as Challenger Park so that it may bear a botanical collection of parking spaces, sprigs of basketball hoops with delicate rims and flowing nets, and grass so green it's worth more than the fluctuating value of the US dollars exchanged in the same area yielding doom and gloom.

    Help Tink obtain a right of passage.

    The contents of this passage were not produced, conceived, or typed with the support of any drugs, substances, or liquids of legal or illegal nature.

  10. "Out of curiosity, where would you put soccer fields?"

    Don't you see the soccer fields in the picture? The parking area is the "soccer field". Set a few rocks out to mark the goals and and voila!

    This whole post reminds me of the thought that crosses my mind every time I hear Helen say that Wilson Yard is for "teachers & firemen."

    Teachers = Those people who are drug addicted, ex-cons, sex offenders and/or those who sell drugs for a living, form gangs, kill rival gang members, spend hours at the park getting their jollies watching children, etc.. They "teach" us that life isn't always about following the rules.

    Firemen = aka Arsonists

    All you need is a tremendous imagination and you'll soon find that Helen never lies.

    Go Helen!

  11. Perhaps this is for another thread...I am not trying to provoke anyone...and I think the "teachers and firemen" thing is BS...but does anyone know exactly what the criteria will be for housing at WY? I don't think we still have a definitive answer but I could be wrong?? I think it has changed over time. Does anyone know EXACTLY what the criteria will be and what the out-of-pocket rents will be?

    PS-I am not a proponent of WY as we currently understand the "development" to be. On the other hand, there are aspects of the critiques I have heard that are founded on a few misunderstandings. Ok. Please be nice.

  12. Challenger Park... I run through it all the time. Lets see- I saw three bums having a cookout in the parking lot section a few days ago. I didnt think much of it. Then I decided to circle back through the park and saw the same bums. This time the one laying one the ground was on his side and had his leg lifted showing his balls to the two others. I asked him to get the f**k out of here, but he didn't listen.

    Then there is the typical group that stays up against the wall that likes to smoke whatever it is they smoke in plain view of all to see. Then there is the chubby guy with the tournicate around his arm. Wonder what he is doing.

    I am not sure why the police refuse to patrol this area. Do they think out of sight out of mind?

  13. Saskia
    Here's the scoop on the low income housing at Wilson Yard. According to IHDA - "23% Extremely Low, 56% Very Low and 21% Low." The category of "Low" would include an income range of about $36,000 to $39,000. But all these numbers are meant as a distraction and are actually moot because there's a ceiling but no floor. As an example: 100% of the residents could feasibly make 0 income. There are restrictions at the top but there are no limits at the bottom.

  14. Lunchbox... Be glad the guy was just exposing his balls. You can't avoid all the groups of bums regardless of where you are in Uptown. It's a haven. Not sure the police can do anything. It's one of the reason I meet my friends at their houses and don't have them come visit me here. It's too embarrasing. Yeah, I know, if you don't like it, get out. Working on it. 10 years of bums, guns and sirens. Like living in a 3rd world country. How about all those cool fireworks going off all over the streets too. Now I am in a war zone.

  15. Thanks, Judy. That is what I thought was the current plan but someone somewhere mentioned something about the out-of-pocket rents being too high for someone to be able to afford on an SSI payment alone. Maybe that was just a bunch of BS because it is folks who are trying to get by on SSI disability payments and seniors who only have a small SSA payment who who traditionally have a hard time finding suitable housing. There are also people working waitstaff and cashier jobs (for example) who can't afford the median rents around here too. But, if the waitlist is going to be mostly done through CHA the housing probably won't reach those people. Anyone know anything about that? Sorry to hijack this thread a bit. I was following from zesty marina's comments about the lies and distortions being a pattern around here.

  16. I understand where you are coming from upsboy & lunchbox, but I think the word "bums" is derogatory. For me, the issue is far beyond being PC and goes straight to the issue of what happens when you look at people as stereotypes and not as human beings. Since I am always on here saying that I don't like being called an evil-this-or-that, I feel compelled to speak up when I see something similar. Please understand I am not trying to be confrontational but the reason why I don't use words like "bums" is because it is an "easy out" and sets you on the path for disregarding people and situations rather than asking questions and getting engaged.

    Sorry again for pulling the thread away from it's focus---years of broken promises. I do suppose that people's hearts may not have been so hardened if they were not repeatedly lied to and shut out.

  17. "But, if the waitlist is going to be mostly done through CHA the housing probably won't reach those people."

    Yes your correct again Saskia. As a requirement for obtaining his funding Holsten signed an agreement that he would give preference to those displaced from the recently demolished public housing projects.

  18. I doubt her Son will run against her and I don't think he would win anyway.

    But any candidate should be able to beat her next time as long as they do it right. They are going to have fight dirty and hard. Raise a lot of money, buy newspaper, and TV advertisements. In these advertisements they need to quote promises she has made and not delivered on. Dig up all dirt on all her contributors, developers etc. Also get out to the whole City all the social service concentration Uptown has compared to other areas parts of the City. Also that candidate is going to have to get the backing of a few other politicians. But raising money is the key. Also whether you are for or against WY. I would use the financials to blast that project alone. It seems to be it’s going to cost way more than it should.

  19. I've been thinking about what people should be doing now to "prime the pump" for a candidate who will not be a Daley lapdog and who will encourage the participation of all residents of this ward. As you said, "b", money is key but so is getting certain parts of the voter base to wake up. I think that will take longer than the typical election season. The problem is how to start early to "prime the pump" but not exactly be running any particular candidate. I think what we are going to be faced with is a hand selected Daley/Shiller appointee and then anyone who doesn't like that set-up will be called all sorts of ugly names. Anyone running against that person will be faced with the usual dirty tricks plus a lot of Daley cash. And, since it won't be Shiller bringing up past failed promises and such probably won't resonate. It is an uphill battle for sure.

  20. Re Saskia and Judy-
    I do not think you are correct regarding the rents planned for the tax credit units, or how the waiting list will work. While it is true that there is only an upper income limit, unlike public housing and section 8, the amount of rent each month is fixed - it is not based on your actual income at that time. So, if you have $0 income you will NOT be able to live there because you will not have money to pay the rent, unless you independently have a section 8 voucher (which no landlord in the city is legally allowed to discriminate against you for having).

    The most recent actual rent levels I can find for IHDA units are from 2006, but assume they're about the same now - $1117 per month for a one-bedroom for a "low" income family (80% Area Median Income); $706 for "very low" (50% AMI - it might also be 60% AMI, which would mean the rent would be higher); $424 for the "extremely low" income family (30% AMI). The rents go up with larger units and are adjusted annually. Happy to email you the chart I have if you'd like.

    Regarding the waitlist, the CHA waitlist applies only for CHA properties, which this is not. The names are 10 years old at this point, and in any case, there is no way that CHA will be at all involved in running the waiting list for a private property. Holsten will keep a waiting list just for this development, as any private landlord would. He may give priority to relocatees, but remember that most of the CHA buildings are long demolished and, while relocated residents may move, there is not a big flood of them looking for housing at any given moment.

    Hope that's helpful.

  21. Good information Nadia.

    Anyway you could also include crime statistics from low income housing? I would be interested to know the Murder, rape, assault, drug bust and usage rates involved in CHA property as apposed to us that work two or three jobs just to pay our mortgage without government help.

    Please your very well informed, so please indulge us all in what we have to look forward to from Helen's vision.

  22. Thanks, Nadia. You spelled out some information that I had been hearing about WY. However, I also heard that the units will be larger than 1-bedroom because of demand for affordable units for families.

  23. "If Helen did put in the park, you'd be bashing her when it turned into a hangout for gang members"

    Why is there this assumption that parks are hangouts for gang members? Is it too much to ask for a park that doesn't have gang activity? Seriously? Thats asking too much of our alderman?

  24. Don't forget, Uptown Dad, that a number of the issues that CHA housing has experienced in the past were because the building structures themselves where very difficult to police, because the CHA wasn't able to maintain a balance of working families vs. unemployed families b/c of changes in the economy during the 70s-80s, the influx of cheaper drugs and a number of other factors. Without going into a long discussion about why the Cabrini Greens failed, my basic point is that your comment seems to imply that people living in low-income housing are morally defect. Although I don't deny that poverty is related to crime proper management of a low-income building can go along way in making a safe community for all. The supports that are invested in these communities really can have an impact.

    If WY comes as currently planned, the surrounding community should make sure that the supports are there and no one drops the ball. Further, I will welcome my new neighbors because it is just the right thing to do.

  25. Saskia my friend,

    Not to get to off topic so as to get edited by UU, trust me they will.

    My point and my feeling is not that the people of public housing are "morally defect" but that the system of public housing itself creates a "morally defect" person.

    It ingrains a victim mentality by instilling in people an underlying tone from their government by saying "We do not believe you can take care of yourself" "We do not believe you are smart enough" "We do not believe you will work hard enough to provide for your family"

    So to tie this all in with the park conversation, we spend huge amount of tax dollars on CHA, that "difficult" policing of the buildings, housing the criminals in jail and in prison after they commit their crimes.

    All this money could go to fixing up the ever crumbling infrastructure that is America including Challenger Park.


  26. AMEN uptowndad - and to add....

    I'll use my mother as an example (who's now 72 yo)

    -- She grew up in public housing - she was grateful for what she had, they kept their floors so clean you could eat off of them and the only thing separating them from their neighbor was a curtain. They made the best of what they were given and were GRATEFUL for it.

    Today's recipients have this notion they're entitled to housing to only destroy it and blame others. Most likely blaming the horrible white capitalist.

    saskia, i really enjoy your posts and you always bring good points to the table - however, i think your rose colored glasses need to be polished.

    Until these people in public housing take accountability, start respecting themselves and hold their neighbors accountable, this same shit is going to happen again and again. period. WY will be just that. I guarantee it.

    I'm done with paying for others and a broken system. I just wish WY could be 100% Senior Citizen housing, that I could deal with.

  27. I think it really needs to be pointed out here, emphatically, that many -- most -- people in subsidized housing are good, decent people and neighbors.

    I have relatives who live in subsidized homes. The people who live in the scattered site housing a door away from me are good neighbors. Certainly the resident who wrote the "Open Letter" this week is a caring mother and concerned resident.

    I think it's the gangs - the dealers - who are the problem tenants. Get rid of them, and that's most of the problem, right there.

  28. Well, Uptown Dad and Jimo, scattered site housing is supposed to be a new way to approach the need for affordable housing but move exponentially past what it deteriorated into from the late 60s onward in Chicago. I disagree with the "culture of poverty"-tinged kinds of arguments that Uptown Dad was making because they seem to appeal to one's commonsense but just don't hold up under closer inspection. The failure of high-rise public housing is just truly complex but that doesn't mean that public assistance for housing should be abandoned altogether.

    I believe that local property owners can play an important role in getting the best outcome possible there. In other words, if WY fails it won't be for the reasons that you think. IMHO it will fail because of: inadequate screening of tenants; architectural design flaws for a building with this purpose; isolated and powerless tenant organizations; poor daily on-site management and poor relations with the surrounding community and the police. Disrespect on the part of tenants may be part of the equation but it will only become rampant if left unchecked by fellow tenants and by those tasked with managing the property.

    Just for the record, I support affordable housing but I think the WY development is flawed. That being said, I think that if we are going to get it under the current plan then there are things that local property owners can try to do to help it be the best it can be. Property owners have to move a bit beyond the "its doomed" mentality and the Shilleristas have to stop race and class-baiting in order to maintain their power. WY has to truly become a part of its surrounding community and that will take work from all quarters.

  29. Back the original topic...Challenger Park. Shiller: STOP handing over our land and our money to make life easier for the Cubs, their patrons and citizens of Lakeview! Uptowners deserve quality public spaces and to not have $10 million of our TIF money go to benefit non-residents. We have lots of things that need to be attended to here. Stop doing favors for others at the expense of our quality of life!

  30. I deleted my last post because its Friday and it's no time to be serious! Yeah.

    Skateboard time on sunnyside! Lets all have a drink and be happy we live in Uptown with good people!


  31. Nadia
    You have purposely painted the rosiest picture possible. Why? What are your motives?

    This building is a replica of the failed models that have been torn down throughout the city. Why are you assuming people NOT on public assistance will be lining up to rent there? In fact it will be just the opposite. I’m sure there’s a waiting list right now of section 8 tenants hoping to secure a spot in a $457,000 apartment and remember you said it yourself Holsten cannot discriminate when a section 8 tenant applies.

    Shiller herself, at a UNC meeting at Maryville said a tenant could potentially have 0 income. When the city demolished the public housing projects they satisfied the need to find displaced tenants replacement housing by giving them section 8 vouchers. Many many of these recipients have 0 to very little income. At this point in time the city must still find housing for 6,000 displaced public housing tenants. What better place than Wilson Yard.

  32. Judy,
    My earlier comment was based on what I know about the differences between the various federal rental housing subsidy programs and who is eligible to live where. My agenda was only to clarify what I believed was a misperception about how the rents will be structured and who the tenants at Wilson Yard are likely to be. Obviously, many more people now have Section 8 vouchers than once did due to the demolition of the public housing high rises, and only time will tell if public housing relocatees find Wilson Yard attractive and if the eventual tenants, whoever they may be, become problems for others. While many affordable housing developments have failed to provide decent housing for their residents, many others have succeeded. (Perhaps my other motive was to attempt to diffuse the fear of people receiving housing subsidy that sometimes surfaces in these discussions, because I find it distasteful.)