Thursday, May 31, 2012

Public Safety Meeting on Puerto Rican Fest Weekend: Tonight at the Fieldhouse

The Chicago Police Department is holding a public meeting tonight (Thursday) at 6 p.m. in the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse to discuss security for the Puerto Rican Festival activities on June 14-17 and address any resident concerns. As anyone who lives in Humboldt Park or the surrounding knows, this weekend traditionally brings a large amount of traffic and visitors to the park and surrounding areas, requiring the CPD to dispatch additional resources for traffic and security purposes.

Attending the meeting from the CPD are Deputy Superintendent John Escalante and 14th District Commander Linda Flores. This will be the third year that Deputy Superintendent Escalante has been in charge of the special detail devoted to the Puerto Rican Festival. It should be noted that the CPD does not provide security for the festival itself, which is the responsibility of the organizers, so this meeting will focus on the police presence outside the bounds of the festival.

The Puerto Rican Festival is the largest event that takes place in Humboldt Park on a yearly basis. If you'd like to find out more about what this means for the community or raise questions and concerns about the CPD's handling of the event, then this will be an important meeting to attend.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Humboldt Park Beach in Danger of Closing?

At the April HPAC meeting there were some concerned residents who attended to inquire about the status of the beach opening, because they had heard it was in danger of being closed for the season. In response to their concerns, Area Manager Cynthia Rosario, who is available at every HPAC meeting to address questions like this, gave the news that the City of Chicago is transferring the cost of running the water into the pond to the Park District and it is expected to cost upwards of $1 million to run throughout the season. Cynthia neither confirmed nor denied whether or not the Park District would be keeping the beach closed, and only offered the fact that there is a scheduled date for the opening. The only information available from the Park District's website is that the beach season starts on May 25.

To give some quick background, the swimming pond that serves the beach is filled by City of Chicago water (essentially tap water) treated with chemicals for sanitary purposes. The quality of the water is checked on a regular basis to ensure that it is safe for swimming. Water is constantly flowing in on one side and out through a drain on the other to keep it flowing and clean. This is different from the other bodies of water in the park, like the lagoon, which are standing bodies fed by rainwater or non-City sources.

As many of you may know, last year the City Council approved Mayor Emanuel's plan to raise water rates by 70% over the next five years with the intended purpose of replacing outdated water and sewer infrastructure. Although the HPAC hasn't received any official statements from Park District staff or the City of Chicago, it is probably safe to assume that the City's decision to transfer the cost of the beach to the Park District is related to the City's plan for more strict water billing enforcement, which has also affected suburban governments, churches and non-profits.

Park services and facilities face constant threats due to the City's financial difficulties and the loss of tax revenue to its many TIF districts. One of the results of this is a greater need for concerned citizens to raise their voices to receive the sorts of services they have come to expect. A group of Humboldt Park residents is starting a group to lobby the Park District and City government to keep the beach open. Save the Humboldt Park Beach can be found on facebook, where they have news on this issue and resources like a form letter to send to Park Superintendent, Mike Kelly, and a link to an online petition. Please get in touch with them if you support this cause.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bloomingdale Trail Community Meeting & Riot Fest in Humboldt Park

The Bloomingdale Trail public outreach process comes to Humboldt Park with a meeting at the Fieldhouse (1440 N. Sacramento) this Tuesday the 15th at 6 pm. There will be a presentation updating the status of the trail and discussion of the parks that offer access to the trail. So far the design team has been very active in getting feedback from the communities that the Trail runs through, and it's great to see them making a stop in Humboldt Park. If you or your neighbors want to find out more or make your voice heard on this project, this Tuesday is the time to come out and represent Humboldt Park. Members of the Advisory Council have been active in the public participation process and we expect to have a continued presence as it progresses.

This fall, Humboldt Park will host Riot Fest, a weekend long rock festival that will tentatively take place on September 15th and 16th. This is a big development for the park, since it hasn't hosted any music festivals of this scale in recent memory, and the Advisory Council is working in cooperation with the organizers to help make sure it's a positive experience for the community. Max Wagner, from the Riot Fest team, recently reached out to us to provide information about the event and address any questions or concerns we might have. He and other organizers of the festival will be giving a presentation and taking questions at our next HPAC meeting on Thursday the 17th. The festival could bring around 20,000 visitors a day to the park from around the metro area, so it's important that we work with Riot Fest staff to make sure the event is well organized and reflects positively on Humboldt Park.

It's an active week for new projects going on around the neighborhood. Both of these meetings will cover some important issues and give community members a chance to speak their minds about the impact they'll have on Humboldt Park. We hope you can make it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Camping in Cook County Forest Preserves?

The Cook County Forest Preserve District is working on a Camping Master Plan and wants to hear your thoughts. For years, the District has not allowed camping except for youth camps, but it is looking at opening up options for public use. This could be a great option for families who are looking for an affordable weekend vacation, or anyone wanting to take a quick break from the city. It would also open the possibility for campgrounds that are easily accessible by public transit or bike.

If this sounds interesting, you can take the survey here.