My 49th Ward Service Office will be CLOSED for the holidays from Friday, December 23rd, at 2 p.m. to Tuesday, January 3rd, at 9 a.m.
This will provide my staff members, who routinely work far more than 40 hours a week, an opportunity to spend time with their families during the holiday week when calls and emails to my office are almost non-existent.
Though the Ward Service Office will be closed, my ward superintendent, Dan Murphy, and his crew will continue to provide 49th Ward residents with garbage pick-up and other routine city services from Tuesday, December 27th, through Friday, December 30th. Snow removal and other emergency services always will be provided regardless of the holidays.
For non-emergency city service requests during the holiday week, email or call my office and leave a message (email: email@example.com; phone: 773-338-5796). We will return your email or telephone message promptly on Tuesday, January 3rd, and address your issue then. If you have a city service request that requires immediate attention, please call 311. Of course, if you have a police, fire, or medical emergency, you should always call 911.
The past year has been a challenging time for our city and our nation, but we have persevered. As we celebrate the holidays, let’s take a moment to count our blessings. We live in one of the most dynamic and exciting neighborhoods in the country, a community that continues to undergo positive change. I am both honored and humbled to serve as your alderman and look forward to working with you to make 2017 the best year yet for the 49th Ward!
Though we have faced many challenges on both the national and citywide stage, we in the 49th Ward have much to celebrate.
Our 49th Ward participatory budgeting process received national recognition this year. PBS aired a documentary broadcast nationwide that highlighted our groundbreaking initiative, Time Magazine listed our process as “one of the reasons to celebrate America,” and I was invited to the White House for a convening on participatory budgeting. This recognition came on the heels of a record-breaking turnout of 2,139 voters in our Participatory Budgeting election.
Our local schools continue to experience significant improvements with nearly half of Rogers Park’s schools now rated at Level 1 or 1+, the highest ratings that can be given to a school. And Sullivan High School bested thousands of schools nationwide when it emerged as a finalist in a national competition for a $10 million grant.
Rogers Park also is experiencing an economic renaissance with scores of new businesses opening their doors this year, including a new Hampton Inn on Sheridan Road and Anytime Fitness on Devon Avenue, and new restaurants, including Little Unicoco on Howard Street; Safari Lounge and Ethiopian Cuisine on Clark Street; and Clarke’s Diner, Rogers Pier and Blaze Pizza on Sheridan Road.
Rogers Park continues to be an arts mecca with two new theater companies opening their doors this year, including the Factory Theater, which brought live theater back to Howard Street, and the McCaw Theater, home to the renowned production company, Theater Above the Law. And a third theater company, The Cuckoo’s Theatre Project, just announced plans to open a performing arts center in the neighborhood.
Rogers Park’s famed artistic viaduct murals caught the attention this year of WBEZ’s Curious City, and our two annual arts and music-oriented street festivals–the Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival and the Celebrate Clark Street World Music Festival–continue to draw thousands to our community.
Rogers Park also enjoyed unprecedented investments in its parks and playgrounds, with Loyola Park and Leone Park receiving brand new playgrounds this year, joining eight other parks in our neighborhood that have received new playgrounds in the last three years. The expansion of the Divvy bikeshare stations north of Touhy and the announcement of a designated bike route through Rogers Park promise to add to the quality of life in our neighborhood by making our community safe for bicyclists and pedestrians alike.
With all these great initiatives, it’s no wonder the website Trulia this year named Rogers Park the top Chicago neighborhood for “living well” and the 11th best neighborhood in the nation to live in, and the Chicago Tribune reported recently that many investors view Rogers Park as the next “destination community.”
Though I welcome our neighborhood’s ongoing economic progress, we must remain vigilant in maintaining and increasing our neighborhood’s affordable housing stock. This is why I continue to support and seek out new affordable housing to make sure everyone, regardless of their income, can afford to live in Rogers Park.
In the meantime, my hard working 49th Ward Service Office staff and our ward superintendent, Dan Murphy, continue to respond to each and every city service request. In 2016 alone, my office, together with the City’s 311 system, fielded over 5,000 requests for city services, on issues ranging from potholes and tree trims to noise complaints to complaints of inadequate heating in apartment units. This is the bread and butter work of an alderman and no aldermanic staff does it better.
My staff and I also sponsored 99 public meetings and events last year, including meetings on zoning proposals, bike routes, new playgrounds and traffic safety hazards. They also included workshops on issues such as how to appeal your property tax assessment, knowing your rights as an immigrant, and how to expunge your criminal record.
And of course no year would be complete without our favorite annual 49th Ward events, such as the Valentines Day Family Movie Extravaganza, the Spring Clean-up, the Job Fair, the Satellite Service Offices, the Paper Shredder, the Trash to Treasure Swap and Electronics Recycling, the Bike Ride, the Follow Me on Fridays, and the most popular event of all–the 49th Ward Back to School Picnic.
I don’t yet know how many community events and meetings I will host in 2017, but I hope you attend as many as you can to meet your neighbors, learn about community issues and lend a helping hand to make the 49th Ward even better.
Finally, I want to recognize the many good things happening in our community on a daily basis that escape the news media’s attention. From the person who shovels the walk of a next door neighbor and the social service providers who help people facing personal crises to our city workers who make Chicago run and the businesses that provide us with jobs and needed goods and services, we all make contributions to our neighborhood.
I was especially touched by the overwhelming response my office received when we issued a call for help for seven families displaced by an apartment building fire on a cold winter morning. More than 200 neighbors opened their hearts and wallets to contribute nearly $20,000, a godsend to those families.
Rogers Park residents came through again when I issued a call last January for water for the residents of Flint Michigan. On very short notice, Rogers Park residents donated enough bottled water to fill an entire truck.
We truly live in a special neighborhood filled with people who care. If you want to feel especially “warm and fuzzy” about Rogers Park, take a look at these holiday and winter activity photos taken by your neighbors this season.
This past year has been challenging for many of us, and 2017 poses serious challenges in the 49th Ward and around the world. I truly believe we are better off when we work together and recognize the good in each of us. I hope the year ahead is filled with hope, health and happiness for you and your family.
On behalf of myself, my family and my tireless and dedicated staff–Kevin O’Neil, Michael Land, Wayne Frazier, Ann Hinterman, Cecilia Salinas and Bob Fuller–I wish you a blessed holiday season and a wonderful and prosperous New Year!