Friday, June 17, 2011

News From The 46th Ward

Ald. Cappleman's office is now sending out a regular Friday newsletter, as are Alds. Osterman and Pawar.  If you want to subscribe to these, you can sign up at their websites:
Here are a couple items of note from today's 46th Ward newsletter:

"Safety.  On advice from the police, in agreement with the Parks Department, the basketball hoops at the Broncho Billy Park located at 4437 N. Magnolia Ave. have been removed.  The police recommended this change to help alleviate accelerated gang activity in the area.  I am working with the area youth programs to use the basketball courts at Chase Park, Clarendon Park, Uplift High School, and the boys and Girls Club on Sheridan.  The Broncho Billy Park is still open for children twelve and under and their adult guardians.

I am working with my staff on identifying areas in the 46th Ward with high rates of crime. I have been meeting with Commander Boehmer, Commander Moy, schools, businesses, nearby Aldermen, CAPS, and neighborhood organizations to address the root causes and create a plan of action for a safer neighborhood.

46th Ward Office Hours.  I am committed to make sure that I have every opportunity to hear from you.  With that in mind, I want you to have our new office schedule so you can plan your time to come in and see us.  As of next Monday, June 20 our hours are as follows:
  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - 9:00am to 5:00pm
  • Wednesday - 9:00am to 7:00pm
  • Friday and Saturday - 9:00am - 12:00pm (noon)"


  1. Not sure how I feel about taking out the basketball hoops. Yes, it is effective. Sad though.

  2. We are parents who live on Magnolia by the park and we are thrilled the basketball hoops have come down. We can now feel safe to play on our own street and to walk home from school in the evening. And even better, the park won't be strewn with litter!

  3. I think I am a fan of taking out the basketball hoops. Bronco Billy is on a quiet, residential street. There are other parks in close proximity that are much more suited for late night basketball that would be easier to patrol and less likely to attract the "bad guys."

    Heck, given how much damage that has been done to those blocks on Magnolia with the high concentration of below-market housing, I would like to see the city sell Bronco Billy at market rates (perhaps in a better economy), which would encourage development of market rate housing and restore a little balance. Note - I am not suggesting displacing anyone already there in this post...

    I don't live right there, but I am a fan of shutting little parks like that down at dusk and locking them up till morning. In the town where I grew up, parks closed at sundown, and there were park patrols all night during the summer. It was very clear when you could and could not use the parks, and there were few problems during the night. New York does this in certain neighborhood playlots and parks...

  4. I play at the Clarendon park hoops. Hope that area stays safe.

  5. Not wild about Cappleman wanting to collect my full name, address, phone number, etc. all for a simple e-mail update list.

  6. Take away the basketball hoops? Sure. Take away that whole park? ABSOLUTELY! Go for it. I agree with Stash 100%.

  7. As noted I am a parent that lives on the same block as the park. I see no need to take away the park. Not only is a great place for the kids to play - the preschool there uses it, as do many other preschools in the area. And there are no other little playgrounds in the area. The water sprinkler was a great addition that the kid love. I am glad we can now enjoy this playground on a regular basis.

  8. With the amount of people I've seen use this playground for their dogs... why not re-purpose that back section as a small dog park and encourage some positive neighborhood use, while at the same time keeping dogs off the areas where small children play.

  9. Wait... I'm confused. So when did outdoor activities start breeding gang activity? I'm all for trying to clean up our neighborhood, but this is ridiculous. If anything, these kids should be encouraged to be at the court instead of walking around the neighborhood with nothing to do. Keeping the area under constant supervision by armed security would have been a better alternative. I understand that taking the hoops is an easier and cheaper solution, but how does this encourage the decent kids in the area to stay out of trouble?

  10. The hoops taken down was a good idea. Clarendon park courts seem fine during the day but in the evening I see gangs taking over the courts. Specially on weekends. I use to see park district police drive by and check on the park grounds but I never see them this year so far.

  11. Alex, it's no secret the city is near bankruptcy and we're short on police, but Alex is suggesting constant armed supervision for that one playlot. Really?

    I wonder if the police have more insight about practical ways to address this situation rather than rely on Alex's "expert" advice.

  12. Armed security? Really?

    At this point anything that encourages gang activity has to be out of this area. This area has one of the highest concentration of police officers in the city - so it's pretty unsafe. If you have to walk past that park to get home in the evening, you would understand.

    Besides, decent kids don't get into the kind of trouble that led to the hoops coming down.

  13. Way back in 2002, when Bob Geherty with the CPD hosted meetings on the Broncho Billy redesign, I attended these meetings.

    Bob reminded us that BB was a childrens' playlot, for kids under 12 years of age, and that a full sized basketball court was not appropriate for a playlot.

    Many of the mothers who attended the meetings agreed. However the alderman's staff person and the principal of the pre-school pushed it through,ignoring the moms who said they didn't feel a basketball court belongs on the playlot.

    So much for smart urban planning, even at a playlot in Uptown.

  14. "Keeping the area under constant supervision by armed security would have been a better alternative."

    Wow that's a waaaaaaaaaaay better solution than taking down a few rims. I bet it's more affordable to the tax payers as well. Better yet, maybe each of us can get our own "armed security" detail so we can walk around without worry in Uptown.

    We just rollin' in da money in Chi-Town!

  15. I have always wondered why those hoops went back up with the rehab of the playlot. Playlot and hoops don't really go together. I wonder why the principal of the preschool would have ever wanted the hoops backup - probably pressure from the alderman's office.

  16. I'll state the obvious......'News' from the new 46th Ward Office is most welcomed! ANY new and relevant communication is most appreciated.

    I feel, that with the new Alderman, I somehow feel like base concerns are being addressed. It's sad we all have to live in a war zone, but kudos to J.C. for following a line of common sense.

  17. Great comments guys. Nice to see we are keeping it respectful. (Just wondering) With as many police officers patrolling the neighborhood as we already have, an authority figure on site to discourage loitering and such gang activity seems a lot more sensible to me than kicking these kids off of the courts, and putting them back on to the streets. TAKING DOWN TWO RIMS WILL NOT CEASE ANY GANG ACTIVITY.

    I do walk past that park at least 6 times a day (Thrasher), and I am not blind. Our area is not safe, but how can you really think that this is a problem solving solution? If any of you have played sports growing up, imagine that being taken away because you grew up in the wrong neighborhood. Not all of these kids are gang-banging, and they do not deserve this. Ask any child in this neighborhood if they want the hoops down, then get back to me.

    And finally, (chip douglas). I'm glad to see that you're more concerned about your bankroll than you are about making a park a little more safe to play in for the decent kids in this neighborhood.

    I don't have answers guys, so there's no need to be critical.... I just think that there are other alternatives.

  18. @Trishers - I don't live on your block, so I think you should a lot more say than I do about what happens to the play lot :-).

    Glad you and your family can enjoy the park!

    @AlexV - Armed security is one idea. What other ideas do you have for the good kids in the neighborhood? Agreed - While I think kids should be home at night with their parents, that might not always be possible or ideal, and lord knows it can be boring when your peers are out running the streets. Also, sometimes the streets might be more comfortable than the environment at home...

    The act of taking down the hoops is symbolic. After years of tolerance of the crap that goes on at that little neighborhood park, it's time for the kids and adults that used those courts to cause trouble to see that there are consequences for their actions - I.E. no more hoops in the park for all. Thanks guys.

    The people who use the courts responsibly should know this act was not directed at them. If they are mad, they can work hard to get them restored by being part of the solution to the larger issue of way too much crime and disrespect over there.

    It will be interesting to see where the gangs of thugs that used to hang out there end up. At least before, you could predict like clockwork where they would congregate and avoid that block at certain times.

    Where ever they go next in Uptown, how about consistent consequences based on shared community values of safety and respect.

  19. The problem with taking the hoops down is the skateboarders now have taken over the basketball area and they are riding outside of that area to start/finish their tricks. I also live right behind the park and the skateboarders are way louder than the basketball was.

  20. ya, maybe we should tear up the asphalt now.... That'll show 'em.


    Maybe organized tournaments. I know it sounds crazy, but it could be a way to clear it of people who have no business being there. The police have the right to approach anyone they suspect of gang activity. Running a background check, and finding gang-related criminal history should be enough grounds for them to be ejected from the premises.

    I understand the mindset that this is to protect us.... However it doesn't teach any lessons to anyone. In my opinion, this is a band-aid over a bullet hole.

    I would hope that we are smart, and empathetic enough to be able to take a closer look at the message that this action sends to these kids. It hardly qualifies as a disciplinary action, it just tells them that they are not welcome. Where else are they supposed to go? Should they stay inside all day because I get nervous when I walk my dog, or come home from the bar? I get it, but this isn't the way.

    lastly, a "little food for thought," Childhood obesity is a much worse plague amongst America's youth, than gang violence..... Lets not limit their right to go outside and play.

  21. The "confused" seem to be confusing the matter more than needed. No one is suggesting that Broncho Billy Playlot (note that--PLAYLOT) be closed...the police can't assign officers to watch the out-of-place-for-a-kids-playlot basketball hoops that are gang-central, so the basketball hoops are removed because they can't be supervised. No one is suggesting that kids shouldn't exercise and play basketball--Cappleman is even working to have supervised basketball for kids at other nearby locations, so that the gangs aren't using public park space for their criminal activities.

    This isn't a band-aid--it's cauterization. It isn't being done to "teach a lesson", it's being done to keep the gang problems from worsening. The message it sends our kids is that gang activity is unacceptable. And really..."Childhood obesity is a much worse plague amongst America's youth, than gang violence..... Lets not limit their right to go outside and play." Uh...let's be more concerned about UPTOWN'S youth, which is obviously far more plagued by gang violence--including drugs and gang shootings--than it is by childhood obesity. You are absolutely right--gang intimidation and gang activity should NOT limit the right of Uptown's kids to go outside and play.

    Focus on the problem at hand, please, and don't try to muddy the waters by using all the red herrings of mis-truths and misunderstandings over something very simple and straightforward.

  22. Hoops don't shoot people, recreuit new members, sell drugs, or intimidate anyone.... you're right, I'm confused.

    "it's being done to keep the gang problems from worsening. The message it sends our kids is that gang activity is unacceptable"

    I wonder how many of these gang members will get this message and turn in their guns, drugs, ect..... My guess is none. And instead of being able to go the park and ball, the uncorrupted youth can loiter in our streets, and parking lots with the gang members who have also been kicked off the courts.

    over it...

  23. I'm glad the hoops are down, its not a good location for basketball. The playlot belongs to the little kids.

    It would be a good idea to find an alternative location nearby, the teenagers need to something to do and sports are a positive over-all. The hoops at Foster Beach get a lot more use then Bronco Billy ever did and less gang activity. Easier to supervise.

    This is a good thing, simply put parents just need a safe place nearby were the kids can play while they read a book or whatever.

  24. AlexV -- no, taking down the basketball hoops will not stop gangbanging. But it will stop the gangbangers from hanging out in a playlot that's reserved for kids 12 and under. Taking away adult activities from an area reserved for children will help keep adult gangbangers from congregating there.

    Kids who want to use basketball hoops for their legitimate purpose can go to better-supervised areas in the immediate vicinity and do just that.

    The idea with gangs is to keep them off balance. Here's a little tutorial:

    Gangs survive by selling illegal products and services in a particular area (the specifics depend on the era and the gang, but that's it in a nutshell). If the cops and community can move them away from an area they've taken over -- like the Broncho Billy children's playlot or the drive-through drug mart at Wilson & Magnolia -- they lose not only lose their precious, hard-won turf, they also lose their clientele, who can't find them at their usual place of business. This makes the gangs lose sales, power and income, and that weakens them.

    This is how a community gets rid of gangs. They take back the turf that feeds the gangs. In this community, the 4400 and 4500 blocks of Magnolia are a gang stronghold, and have been for a very long time. I can't count the number of times the fence in the back of the lot has been cut to make it easier for the gangs to run through it to escape the cops, nor the number of people who've been shot there, and I clearly remember one gangbanger lying dead in that alley around Thanksgiving 8 or 10 years ago.

    This move takes away some of that stranglehood. It takes back some of the "turf" and returns it to the good guys -- the people for whom it was built and intended. It makes it easier for the cops to know who should and shouldn't be there when the playlot goes back to its intended purpose: a haven for kids and their guardians.

    You keep saying that taking away the basketball hoops won't stop the gangs. Well, here's my analogy:

    Taking away buried land mines doesn't stop war. But we keep taking them out so that innocent people can safely walk in places where the bad guys have buried them. It won't stop war, but it makes it safer for innocent people to walk through their neighborhood.

    Okay, that's it. I'm done, too.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. And btw, they could still go and hang out there if they really wanted to. It's not like the courts have been destroyed. They could still sit in the SAME spot and peddle drugs, all that they can't do there now, is play basketball.

  27. No AlexV, your last point is not true. They're no longer allowed there now that the basketball court is closed.

  28. Alex - you may walk past this park 6 times a day but are you walking past it at 5:30 with a child or children? Do you feel compelled to walk completely out of your way (coming up with a creative answer when a child asks why) when you see various activity on the streets that makes you wonder if something is up? Have you ever had to answer a child's question as to why they aren't allowed to go to the park? Have you ever had to calm a child's fears after a shooting on a simple walk home from school? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you might understand why so many of us see the hoops coming down as positive.

    No one is stating kids shouldn't have access to basketball hoops. They are merely stating they shouldn't be at playlot on a quiet residential street that is high in gang activity. In fact, they just don't belong at a playlot. (I can't come up with any other playlots that have hoops.) They are merely stating they should be located in an appropriate area.

    If you believe this playlot is an appropriate location for hoops that's your opinion but given that you don't live here or have kids, it's probably hard for you to understand why we are thrilled to increase the safety of our neighborhood,

  29. But Still Many Kids And Teens Who Are Not GangBangers Use Those Courts Because It's Safe Than Going Anywhere Else Chase Is Limited, Clarendon Park Is In A Rival Gang Place And So Is The Boys And Girls Club, Kids Know What Happen If Asked Where You From. The Courts Been Here there whole life and they love them. what would happen if we take away cops dounuts because we need more police officers in shape?

  30. @Running in Place

    Yes, but the skateboarders don't sell drugs or shoot guns. They encourage positive activity!

  31. Finally, someone who is more concerned about the community as a whole than their own personnel well-being. The court is there, with out the hoops, it's now just a waste of space.

    Ever heard the phrase that it "takes a community to raise a child?" If the adults in this neighborhood spent even half the time that a gang spends to influence these kids, it would go a long way to discourage gang affiliation.

    And just because these kids wear skinny jeans and ride skateboards, doesn't mean they are any less inclined to be in a gang, or participate in illegal activity. Let's be careful not to profile.

  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. "But Still Many Kids And Teens Who Are Not GangBangers Use Those Courts Because It's Safe Than Going Anywhere Else Chase Is Limited, Clarendon Park Is In A Rival Gang Place And So Is The Boys And Girls Club, Kids Know What Happen If Asked Where You From."- Ignorance is Bliss

    IIB, I wonder if you ever noticed there's been plenty of gang activity at Bronco Billy Playlot as well? You would know if you regularly attended the CAPS meetings. It's much safer for these teens to be playing where there is some amount of supervision than none at all. Regardless, the police asked to have the hoops removed and they probably have a better sense of safety issues than most others in the neighborhood.

    If you can influence the police into believing Bronco Billy has no problems with gang activity, maybe that would influence Cappleman to have the hoops placed back up. However, if I were a parent of a teenage boy in the neighborhood, I would not want him playing basketball in an unsupervised area that has a high rate of gang activity. Just sayin'.

  34. Am I concerned more about my and my child's safety than I am about gangbangers and their friends having a place to play basketball - I sure am! We aren't talking about bored youths - we are talking about people dealing drugs and shooting and killing people. Do I want this behavior off my block at the cost of some hoops? YES! Do I care if teenagers have to find another basketball hoop? No. I don't want people get killed in front of my home anymore. This is my home and I feel like I have much more a right to not worry about getting shot than the youth do to play basketball. Call me self-serving but until you live here with kids you don't know how you would feel.

    And if you really believe a community is necessary to raise a child, then you would know that the community needs to be safe first and foremost.

    (And besides most responsible parents are looking to themselves first to raise their children and not to the community.)

  35. It's Go Skateboarding Day today, so try not to get peeved if some guys are using bronco billy to skate :)

  36. that explains so much based on busy wilson!

  37. I was just outside the Broncho Billy playlot and unfortunately heard some teens talking to an older lady who stated "I talk to'em today and those hoops be coming back".

    BTW, the sign on Broncho Billy has always stated the playlot is for children 12 and under. I have to say it's enjoyable walking by and seeing the young kids playing together without the older kids swearing up a storm and shootin' dice while watching way too aggressive basketball. Although some idiot was shooting off fireworks there yesterday evening.