Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dangerous Discharge

A reader writes in:
A quick my 40 years on the North side, I've never seen a building that has been allowed to have its downspouts discharge directly onto the sidewalk, thus creating a swamp in summer and an ice rink in winter for pedestrians to navigate. But the Assyrian Christian Church at 4447 N. Hazel does just that. There is no signage or markings of any kind on the building for contact purposes, but it is a functioning congregation...probably keeping a low profile amongst Islamic neighbors. Just something we have to live with?


  1. Here's the contact information for you:

    Assyrian Evangelical United Church
    4447 N. Hazel
    Chicago, IL 60640
    Phone: (773) 561-6586

    That took all of two and a half seconds to find in a Google search. But I guess it's easier to complain online about something and level anonymous accusations than to actually make a phone call and voice your concerns like a responsible adult.

  2. I don't think it's supposed to be allowed to do that. The code requires some downspouts to be attached to the sewer, but not all. However, I believe that the one's that don't have to be attached to the sewer are allowed to drain into a yard where it won't disrupt the public way.

    Call 311 and report the building. Indicate that there are several violations on the property and it needs to be inspected because some of the violations are adversly impeading the public way. Inspectors will come out (just maybe not right away). They will probably be taken to court then and either forced to fix the problems or face fines.

  3. How about rather than calling 311 and reporting the violation you actually try talking to the church and explaining why the water is an issue? Maybe they don't realize they're creating a skating rink all winter long. Perhaps you work out a neighborly compromise?

  4. I agree with the others. Have a conversation first for goodness sake... they are probably unaware of the issue

  5. Hey Guys,

    Welcome to the bloging world of's been like that for years...complain about people you don't know/aren't like you.

    i would love to see a follow up where someone in Clarendon Park actually goes and talks with someone from the church.

  6. JP,

    JP loves communication. Hey JP why not post your email and phone number.

    You used to do it constantly. That way you can talk "Uptown" with someone. It must be hard now that you live 15 miles or more south.

    I imagine in all those years you got scarcely a phone call or email message.

  7. We live in this neighborhood and we're a part of this neighborhood. Churches and other organizations that isolate themselves from the rest of the community shouldn't be surprised if they are criticized.

  8. just curious...

    what makes people think this
    Assyrian Church is being isolationist?

    from the picture it doesn't look as if it'd be difficult to route the downspout around the corner into the yard.

    i agree that the church is probably unaware that it is an issue, they may only be there on weekends.

  9. Actually, I don't have any personal gripe about this church or their downspout and I do think the problem might well be corrected with a friendly chat.

    What I was responding to is holy moley's underlying sentiment which is a sense that a number of tax-exempt organizations in Uptown show little respect for the surrounding community.(And this is coming from someone who works in the nonprofit sector.)

    AEUC may or may not be a part of that problem but those of us who are tired of one set of city rules for some of us and another set of rules for others are apt to interpret many seemingly innocuous things as a purposeful slight. Things in this neighborhood could be much improved if quality of life/safety concerns were taken seriously and made equitable--- especially by those tasked with overseeing and enforcing city ordinances. In addition, this neighborhood could be much improved if the non-profits were willing to accept the larger community as stakeholders in how they operate and manage their programs or facilities. It comes down to a level of respect that has been absent for far too long.

  10. i happened to be walking down Hazel this afternoon.

    the fix would be more complicated then i initially thought from the picture.

    that downspout services a small flat roof about 8'x12', though one of the sloped roofs drains onto it as well.

    there really isn't a good way reroute the downspout as 'around the corner' would empty in front of their main entrance.

    there is another downspout that services that roof on the other side of the main entrance. So, it is conceivable that the small roof could be repitched and the other scupper and downspout enlarged so that the one draining onto the sidewalk could be eliminated.

    its possible, but would be fairly costly for what is gained. it may actually be easier to remove that piece of side walk and route the existing downspout underground and directly to the curb/gutter and then repour the concrete.

    in any case, it's not an easy fix.

    i don't recall how bad it actually gets in the winter.

  11. imnotelmo

    Thanks for looking into it.


    Since you work in the non-profit sector, then you know how overwhelmed they can be, especially as many who work there aren't of the administrative mindset.

    On the flip side of the "disrespectful" non-profits, there are certain residents who think the neighborhood should come to them for what they deem important. i'm not sure how the long the 40-year North Side resident had been in Uptown, but i'm sure they have had YEARS to walk over and talk with the church, or look up the phone number. There's a discussion of this attitude on a Chicago Tribune blog

    i am glad to hear there are residents who step up and try to communicate with people different then them.

    i have had an opportunity to see & respect people in the community. One such example is working with Mark Zipperer of Buena PArk Neighbors on the Alermanic Debates. I got a chance to see some of the great things he's done in the community, and give him some slack when i read posts that, if he were "anonymous", i would just dismiss or react to.

  12. Is this church active with the local block club? Do they have a representative going to CAPS? Did they participate with Clean & Green? Did they sponsor any event at the block club party last year? Are they working with the community to address the heavy gang activity in Clarendon Park? I live in that area and I never see them in any events.

    Again, it's not the residents' responsibility to make sure any type of not-for-profit organization is a good neighbor.

    jp, your passive-aggressive behavior and judgmental attitude turns many people off, and it's obvious you will likely never address it. I feel sorry for you. I hope you don't see yourself as witnessing Jesus to others, because in my book, you are giving people a reason to turn away from Jesus.

  13. So, JP Paulus are you saying that I have a bad case of white privilege or what? Indeed I may. I am not about to try to analyze the connections between race & class in America in a blog post. But if what you are insinuating is supposed to make me feel guilty or something about pushing for changes in my neighborhood then it is not working. Google a fancy term called "collective efficacy." That is what many of us are trying to do here. We are trying to work together (with whomever will stand with us) to say "this is our neighborhood" and to demand certain things that all people should benefit from. Only in the strange warped world of Uptown politics are such actions beaten down. It is my belief that it is being beaten down because it is not coming from the "moral establishment" corridors of this community. Enough of that. In my book, EVERYONE deserves to be heard and to participate.

  14. Saskia,

    i think we can come to an understanding here...your comment "Actually, I don't have any personal gripe about this church or their downspout and I do think the problem might well be corrected with a friendly chat." shows the right attitude...

    If you saw my comment in the Tribune, the "white privilege" problem has a lot to do with atittude and perceptions -- how things should be, according to "me".

    Encourage Uptown Update & others to highlight the good and the "other side" And go out there and connect.

    When I was with Truman Square, we were missing significant parts of our blocks = 4640, the Institute of Cultural Affairs, and others. So I took steps, such as writing letters and making phone calls, to try to bring them in.

    The stereotype is that buildings like 4640 are strictly for Shiller. But that perception can undeniably be changed if you can help bring out those that are there whom you can connect with. i know residents at 4640 N. Sheridan who voted for (and campaigned for) Sandra Reed.

    There are youth who are active on the internet (such as Facebook)...let's hear their voices on this & other blogs.

    If 10% of those who voted against Shiller in the elections mentored someone, you'd easily have the political sway to have a new alderman. You've got the idea -- it CAn be made into action. You'll get some who strongly reissts -- ignore them and go for those who can be persuaded.

    There have been many who have been in Uptown for years, just trying to survive, after leaving worse circumstances. They might find it condescending/paternalistic to here that they have to go to you. From your perspective , it may not seem fair, but just put it aside, and go to them. Sorry i can't remember it verbatim, but isn't there a Chinese proverb about leadership that says something along the lines that good leadership of people makes them think they they accomplished great deeds on their own?


    Holey Moley,

    Isn't attacking a person or organization anonymously just as passive aggressive?

    If you're serious about your issues with me, give me a phone number to call and we can actively peacefully come up with some good solutions and have better understanding.

    i would like to talk with those who have been "turned off". It seems to me that those who have been most vocally "turned off" had already made up their minds, much like those in the Presidential Campaigns who were most vocally "turned off" by a candidate's "mistakes" never really would support them anyway.

  15. JP, through the years you have proven many times over that you are not capable of self reflection.

    It was never about you witnessing Jesus. It's always been about you witnessing you in your own passive-aggressive way. How many times do you need to hear the same message from count loads of different people for it to sink in?