Okay, we jest. But, newly minted Aldermen, you're going to be hearing a lot of that. You promised changes and you've made great plans for your respective wards. People are eager to see what you can do. So here's what we, as Uptowners, would like to say to you:
- We'll try to be patient. But it won't be easy. It feels like we've been waiting for this moment for years, as you and about 20 others vied for our votes in the last campaign. You three came out on top : via a landslide, a Cinderella squeaker, and an emotionally heated run-off. We know, intellectually, that nothing can change overnight. But we're so eager to see what you can do that we may come across as a bit demanding and zealous. Sorry if we give you a short honeymoon period.
- Please figure out why the gangs are concentrated here... and fix it. Five or ten years ago, on the rare occasions when we heard gunshots, people talked about it all summer. Now it's the OK Corral at least a couple times a week. We're sad that we're getting used to it. When elderly neighbors who've lived in Uptown their entire lives tell us, "I dread summer coming," it's a terrible thing. Make crime your issue.
- Convince us that Uptown can change. We've seen Lakeview go from seedy to thriving; we've seen Southport go from scary to inviting; we've seen the Clybourn Corridor go from empty factory buildings to teeming with retail. But we've heard too many times, from too many people: "Uptown will never change." Convince us that it can.
- But don't lose the flavor that makes us, us. We don't want to see the pancake house turn into a gastropub, nor the Chinese restaurant become a Chico's. (But if a gastropub or a Chico's wants to come here, we've got plenty of empty storefronts where they can set up shop.) We moved to or stayed in Uptown for a reason, and we don't want to see our neighborhood lose what's good and unique.
- Cmdr. Boehmer says that it's just a few people who are creating most of Uptown's crime problems. We'll support you in whatever you can do to get those individuals out of here. We'll go to court with the court advocates, we'll attend CAPS, we'll call 911 even more than we are now. Tell us how we can help you. Specifically and clearly.
- Perhaps related to the above item: Please make the public housing safer. We know the people who live there are terrorized by the bad guys, perhaps more than anyone else. When a community has to hire armed guards and put up surveillance cameras in housing that was built to give people a safe and affordable place to live, there's a problem.
- Please do something about the Uptown Theater. We'd love to see it restored. We want more than a quick peek into the front lobby when the caretaker steps out for a smoke. The 4700 block of Broadway is a showplace for grand buildings that have been lovingly restored, rebuilt and/or rehabbed: the Bridgeview Bank building, the Uptown Broadway Building, the entire block where Borders was, and the building where Bank of America is. Restoring the Uptown Theatre as the crown jewel would complete the picture and make Uptown a destination spot for all of Chicago. (And while you're at it, can you get the diaper taken off the top of the Riviera Theater?)
- But don't build for the sake of building. Instituting a half-baked plan for development is worse than keeping a space empty until a good plan comes along. We'd rather live with the status quo and the possibility of something great happening in a few years than live with bad development, just for the sake of getting something done.
- Listen to the people you represent. We hired you because we liked your ideas for the ward. But we've got some opinions and ideas, too. You'll never make everyone happy, but let us know that you at least hear and understand what we want for our community.
- Oh, gawd, the el. We don't even need to elaborate what all needs to be done, but let us just say that a community with as many elderly and disabled residents as Uptown has needs to have accessible el stations. It's criminal that the people who need the subways most can't access them in Uptown.
Consider this a virtual hearty slap on the back, and a firm handshake of congratulations. Now, let's get to work.