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2012 Archive News

Last Week at City Council... 

December 17, 2012

The Chicago City Council held their last meeting of 2012 last Wednesday, December 12, 2012, and approved the following measures:

Municipal Marketing Ordinance

The municipal marketing ordinance authorizes the creation of a Digital Billboard Network for 34 sites on the city's expressways as well as advertising on the city's nearly 400 BigBelly trash cans throughout downtown.

Last year, the City formed the Municipal Marketing Advisory Council, which includes eight professionals with significant experience in marketing, architecture, and the arts. The Advisory Council advised the city throughout the process, developing a series of guiding principles and providing an independent voice to the decision making process. The City conducted a rolling Request for Qualification process - which remains open - that started in November 2011 and produced dozens of ideas from the marketing and advertising communities across the country and even internationally.

Currently, the City of Chicago has about 1,300 billboards that only provide $1 million in revenue to the City in fees and fines. The digital billboard network, which will lead to 34 sites along the city's expressways, will bring in a guaranteed $15 million in 2013 in addition to more than $155 million over the life of the 20-year contract. The signs will be built through a new joint venture between Interstate media and JCDecaux, known as Interstate JCDecaux, LLC.


Please click here to download the ordinance.

Municipal Electricity Aggregation Program

Municipal aggregation for electricity was also approved along with the selection of Integrys Energy Services as Chicago's electricity supplier. After undergoing a thorough review of its financial strength, customer service ratings, and ability to deliver cleaner energy, Integrys Energy Services was selected following an open and competitive two-stage bidding process because it offered the lowest price margin.

Based on the submitted price margins and current market conditions, the City projects that Chicagoans will save 20 to 25 percent a month on their first electricity bills from February to June, representing about $25 in monthly savings for the average household. Over the life of an agreement that ends in May 2015, Chicagoans will save 8 to 12 percent on their bills, resulting in a total savings of $130 to $150 for the average household for the entire agreement. In addition to delivering meaningful savings to Chicago residents and small businesses, the City's agreement with Integrys Energy Services will set new standards nationally by eliminating coal from its fuel mix.

Chicago's municipal aggregation supply agreement is the largest in the nation. The City is working on an expedited timeframe to ensure Chicago residents and small businesses can transition to the program as soon as possible. Chicago customers will begin seeing savings on their electricity bills in March 2013.

The transition to Integrys Energy Services will be seamless. ComEd will still be responsible for delivering electricity, reading meters, and responding to outages. ComEd will also continue sending monthly bills and receiving payments, and customers will be able to keep the same budget billing and automatic payment options they have now.

The City used its bulk buying power to secure a cleaner power mix and create incentives for additional efforts at incorporating state and local renewable energy sources in the City's portfolio.

In addition to providing Chicago residents and small businesses with cheaper and cleaner energy, the City's agreement will include a number of key customer service features, including:

  • A 24/7 call center with specialists who can speak multiple languages.
  • Customers will be able to exit the program at any time at no cost.
  • All Chicagoans will be eligible for the same low rate, regardless of credit history.
  • Integrys Energy Services will be required to always beat or match the ComEd price.

The program will be operated on an opt-out basis, meaning that Chicago residential and small commercial customers will be automatically transitioned into the program unless they opt-out. Residents and small businesses will have three ways to opt-out of the agreement, via phone, mail, and the web. The City will send an opt-out letter to each eligible customer, and recipients will have 14 days to opt out of the program. Additionally, residents can opt-out of the program at any time without charge, fee or penalty.

The City selected Integrys Energy Services to be its electricity supplier after an open and competitive, two-stage process. During the first phase, Integrys Energy Services was one of eight companies to respond to a Request for Qualifications, which required companies to establish that they could meet a number of customer service, account management, clean energy, and corporate health requirements. During the second stage, which ended on the afternoon of Friday, December 7th, the City selected Integrys Energy Services on the basis of lowest price margin.

Please click here to download the ordinance. For more informaion, visit the Integrys Energy Electric Aggregaion Program website, www.integrysenergy.com/il-chicago, call the Customer Service Hotline, 1-888-802-2885, or click here for a brochure on FAQs.

To view a summary of other measures approved and introduced at the December 2012 City Council meeting, please click here. A full video can be viewed on the City Clerk's Legislative Information Center.

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2013 Shared Cost Sidewalk Program to Open on January 1st!

December 17, 2012

After reaching capacity in 2012, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT)'s Shared Cost Sidewalk Program will re-open to participants on January 1, 2013. This program allows residents to share the cost of sidewalk repair with the City. The program has been a successful service for many years, offering an outstanding value to property owners. All property owners pay the same square-foot cost for new sidewalk: $3 per square foot -- well below what a private contractor would charge. Senior citizens and those with disabilities will receive a 50% discount.

The scope of a Shared Cost project includes the main walk, the courtesy walk (which runs perpendicular from the main sidewalk to the curb), and existing catwalks/landing steps (the small strip of concrete sometimes found adjacent to the curb).

Owner-occupants of corner properties will continue to be charged for both the main (address side) sidewalk and the sidewalk on the non-address side of the property. CDOT will continue to build ADA-compliant corner ramps where applicable, with the city paying the entire cost of the ramps. Replacement is based on engineering considerations. The scope of the repair work will be determined by CDOT.


In previous years, this program has been extremely popular and funds dry up very quickly. Participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis.  Please note that if you applied for the program in previous years, you must apply again in 2013.

Applications will only be accepted through the City's 3-1-1 system (phone or website). Owner information and the property address must be provided at the time of request.

Thousands of Chicagoans have been a part of this popular program, taking advantage of the low cost, exceptional value, and ease of participation. For more information, please contact CDOT at 312-744-1746 or cdotnews@cityofchicago.org.

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Happy Holidays from Alderman Brendan Reilly!

December 17, 2012

2012-13HOliday

Alderman Reilly wishes you and your loved ones a happy and safe holiday season! In observance of the holidays, the Offices of Alderman Brendan Reilly will be closed for the Christmas and New Year holidays beginning at 2:00pm on Friday, December 21st and will reopen for regular business hours on Wednesday, January 2nd.  If there are matters that you need assistance with over the holiday, please contact us before December 21st and we will be happy to serve you!

Please note that Tuesday, December 25th and Tuesday, January 1st are official City Holidays - City Hall, public libraries, health clinics, senior-service centers and other city offices will also be closed.

If you are in need of city service, please call 3-1-1 or call 9-1-1 in case of emergency.  All public safety services including police and fire will remain at full strength and will not be impacted. 

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Holiday Safety Tips from the Chicago Police Department

December 17, 2012

During the Holiday Season, most people are out shopping, attending parties and out traveling.  Everyone enjoys this time of year -- including criminals!  The Chicago Police Department would like to offer a few suggestions to make sure that your holidays are safe and secure.

  1. Give your home an "occupied appearance" by leaving various lights on. 
  2. Let a trusted neighbor know if you are going to be gone for long periods of time. 
  3. Don't use short cuts through alleys or walkways.  Always take well lit and traveled areas.
  4. Always keep a hand free for emergencies.
  5. Shop with friends or relatives.  There is safety in numbers.
  6. If you must take a purse, carry it close to your body with the clasp nearest to you.
  7. Cash should be carried in a front pants pocket.  Do not display large sums of cash.
  8. Never leave your purse in a shopping cart or upon a counter unattended while you shop.
  9. Transfer valuables to the trunk of your auto before you reach your destination
  10. Never leave valuables in plain view in your auto.
  11. Keys should never be carried in your purse.  Keep your keys in your pocket.
  12. When returning to your auto or home, have your keys in your hand ready.
  13. Use the "panic or alarm button" on your key chain if you feel fearful or suspicious.
  14. Be alert for suspicious persons loitering in parking lots
  15. Always lock your car even if you are going to be gone for a few minutes.
  16. Lock your doors immediately upon entering your vehicle and always drive with your doors locked.
  17. Remain alert at all times!

The Holiday Season is a very special time of the year.  It's a time for families, friends and festivities!  But it's also a time when busy people forget to be careful about their personal safety and property.  As a result, people can become victims of burglaries, thefts, frauds and con-games.

Everyone could use extra money around the holidays.  Criminals thrive on unsuspecting and innocent victims. Don't make it easy!  By using these crime tips, you can help protect yourself from holiday crime.

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Celebrate Safely this New Year! Reminders from the Chicago Police Department

December 17, 2012

The Chicago Police Department will be highly visible and enforcing all laws.

    • NO drinking on the Public Way.  This rule will be strictly enforced.
    • Do not drink and drive. Designate a driver.
    • Utilize public transportation.
    • Weapons should not be used as a means of celebration.
    • Keep your celebration indoors.
    • Be attentive to excessive noise and trash.
    • Know your destination.

The Chicago Police Department is dedicated to maintaining safety and will be highly visible. They ask your cooperation by exercising sensible and responsible judgment.

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Winter Preparedness Reminders from City of Chicago

December 10, 2012

The City of Chicago continues to implement, coordinate and improve plans to adapt to changing weather conditions and keep Chicago residents safe this winter. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Department of Streets and Sanitation, other city departments and sister agencies outline their readiness to provide services during the winter months and share tips to avoid weather and health emergencies during cold and extreme temperatures.

OEMC urges residents to prepare for cold temperatures and snowy conditions throughout the winter by stocking up on necessities and preparing emergency kits for residences and vehicles, which will help in emergency situations or if weather conditions become dangerous.

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation is prepared to keep Chicago's 4,100 miles of roadway clear of snow and ice and safe for motorists this winter. The department maintains a fleet of 284 snow vehicles. In addition, the department has replenished all 19 salt piles throughout the city and currently has approximately 285,000 tons of salt in reserve for the season.

The City will also re-launch  www.ChicagoShovels.org, where Chicagoans can access Plow Tracker in real-time during a storm to see the location of plows, and sign up to volunteer with the Snow Corp program, which helps to pair volunteers with elderly residents or people with disabilities who require assistance to shovel their sidewalks.

The Chicago Department of Water Management recommends acting now to make sure pipes in your home are properly insulated and not exposed to freezing air. This includes pipes in garages and unheated areas of the home. If your pipes do freeze, do not use candles or any open flame to thaw them; use a hair dryer or heating pad.

The Chicago Heat Ordinance mandates that heat be furnished to rental units during cold weather months. From September 15 to June 1, the temperature inside a rental residence must be at least 68 degrees during the day. During the evening, the temperatures must be at least 66 degrees.    

The Department of Buildings encourages residents to first contact their landlord or property manager when these temperatures are not maintained and to call 3-1-1 if no action is being taken. During extreme cold weather, the Building Department's first priority is responding to heat complaints and it reassigns inspectors to handle the increased number of heat complaints.

The Chicago Fire Department does not recommend using space heaters. However, if space heaters must be used, ensure they UL certified and at positioned at least 3 feet from anything that can ignite. Use of a space heater in children's rooms should be monitored closely as children sometimes move them close to or into the bed with tragic results. If extension cords are used, they should be rated at 15 amps minimum and never placed underneath carpeting.

In heavy snow, the Chicago Fire Department asks that residents shovel around hydrants so the Fire Department can find them and hook a hose up faster in the event of a fire. Don't park within 15 feet of hydrants - the house you save could be your own!

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) reminds those with travel plans through O'Hare or Midway International Airports to check their airline's website for flight status before going to the airport and plan to arrive at least two hours in advance of their scheduled flight. When severe weather causes significant delays and cancellations at the airports, travelers can receive airport-wide delay and cancellation updates by following O'Hare's Facebook page or Twitter account @fly2ohare and Midway's Facebook page or Twitter account @fly2midway.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is trained for winter weather operations and will, working closely with OEMC and other City agencies, carefully monitor weather and traffic conditions to quickly adapt transit operations to changing circumstances. CTA buses and rail system are equipped with features designed to mitigate the effects of cold temperatures and snow. CTA is also prepared to communicate timely service information to customers in the event of unplanned changes or significant delays in service through informational displays at rail stations and select bus stops, social media (Twitter and Facebook) and CTA's website. Customers are also encouraged to sign up at transitchicago.com for alerts to be notified of service changes or issues.

Peoples Gas suggests the following winter weather safety tips for residents:

    • Regularly inspect and service your boiler/furnace to ensure it is running safely and efficiently.
    • Keep the area around natural gas appliances clutter free to avoid a fire hazard.
    • Never store flammables near a furnace.
    • Ensure natural gas appliances are correctly flued and have the correct ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) buildup in living areas.
    • When lit, make sure flames are blue - a yellow flame could indicate the presence of CO.
    • Understand the dangers and symptoms of carbon monoxide, and have CO detectors installed and tested regularly.

Officials remind residents to be cognizant of weather conditions, heed the warnings given by experts, and know the implications of wind chill advisories, winter storm watches and warnings.  Residents should know the signs and care of frostbite and hypothermia. Officials advise to winterize your home and vehicles, and keep cell phones charged with extra batteries for emergencies. Additional winter preparation information is available at www.alertchicago.com, including links to other local, state and federal resources.

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Cold Weather Pet Care Tips from Animal Care and Control

December 10, 2012

In Chicago, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. 

Help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months by following these simple guidelines:

  • Don't leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops.  Most dogs and all cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise.  Regardless of the season, short-haired, very young or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision.  Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.
  • No matter what the temperature, windchill can threaten a pet's life.  A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. 
  • The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet.  Wipe the feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.
  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children.  Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach.  Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family.
  • Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood.  To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

Chicago Animal Care and Control strongly recommends keeping companion animals inside your home. The best prescription for winter's woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family.  The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time.  Dogs and cats are social animals who crave human companionship.  Your animals companions deserve to live indoors with you and your family.

If your dog is an outdoor dog:

  • Your dog must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat.  The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw.  The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
  • Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes their energy.  Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen.  Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal - when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
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Chicago Public Schools Department of Career and Technical Education Seeking Partnerships for Work Based Learning 

December 10, 2012

The Chicago Public Schools Department of Career and Technical Education (CTE) offers career programs in approximately 60 public high schools throughout the city.  Students are still responsible for their core academic coursework but take the CTE coursework as a part of their career education. The CTE partnership development unit works with organizations, companies, and government agencies to create work-based learning experiences - opportunities to bridge what students are learning in the classroom to real-world, real-life work experiences.       

The CTE are seeking partnerships with organizations that are willing to give back and offer students professional guidance in 12 career areas, including: Agriculture/Horticulture, Architecture/ Construction, Business & Finance, Digital Design & Broadcasting, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Transportation, Pre-Engineering, Culinary Arts & Hospitality, Cosmetology & Barbering, Education, and Law & Public Safety.


PARTNERSHIP OPTION A - QUALIFYING INTERVIEWS
Qualifying "mock" Interview sessions for  CTE students for future Job Shadows and Internship opportunities will be conducted in the morning and afternoon on two dates: Saturday, January 12, 2013 and Friday, February 1, 2013.


Approximately 300 students (juniors and seniors) each day will participate in the Qualifying Interview Sessions.  CTE needs professionals from all industries to help conduct these interviews and review resumes.  

Each interviewer/resume reviewer can expect:

  • at least 3 students in the morning session and the afternoon session
  • interviews to last approximately 10 minutes
  • an orientation packet on that day provided with questions and rubric evaluation material; no preparation from volunteers is needed.

If you are interested in participating, please register here by Friday, December 21, 2012.  Full day volunteers are needed but half day options are available. Registrants will receive a confirmation email and additional details.

PARTNERSHIP OPTION B - JOB SHADOWS
Job Shadow Day is a national initiative dedicated to engaging students in the world of work. The goal is to create an opportunity for students to shadow employees in businesses across the city. It is an academically motivating activity designed to give juniors and seniors and an "on the job" look at the world of work. All participants have been pre-screened by their teachers as work-ready and have indicated an interest in their career field.

Job shadow students are responsible for commuting via public transportation to volunteer host worksites for ½ of one day on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. On Job Shadow Day, CTE students will shadow workplace mentors through a routine (short) day on the job to see how the skills they are learning in school relate to competency and success in the workplace.

Students are typically on shadow from 9:30am-1:00pm. Hosts are asked to provide and have an inexpensive lunch with the students to provide a vital opportunity to allow students to ask questions and to motivate students for continued success.   

Interested parties must register here by Friday, December 21, 2012.  Full day volunteers are needed but half day options are available. Registrants will receive a confirmation email and additional details.


If you have any questions, please contact Maji Tharpe, Manager of Partnership Development for CTE at  mtharpe@cps.edu.

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Winter Overnight Parking Ban Now in Effect

December 3, 2012

Chicago's "Winter Overnight Parking Ban" took effect December 1st on critical arterial streets. This ban is in effect until April 1st, 2013. 

There are over 100 miles of city streets considered critical arterial streets, and the nightly ban is in effect between the hours of 3:00am and 7:00am regardless of the presence of snow.

Ignoring the Winter Overnight Parking Ban can result in a $150 towing fee (minimum), a $50 ticket and a daily storage fee of $10 that increases over time.

Small portions of Division Street, Milwaukee Avenue and Madison Street are the only streets affected by this ban in the 42nd Ward.

Please click on the following links to see a MAP and LIST of streets that are affected by the Overnight Parking Ban.


Overnight parking restrictions signs are posted throughout the designated routes.  Please be aware of these signs indicating the parking restrictions.

SnowSigns  

To learn more about the City's 2012-2013 winter snow program, please click here

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Arterial Snow Route Information

December 3, 2012


Other arterial streets in the 42nd Ward are considered "Snow Routes."  Parking restrictions on these streets are technically in effect year round, but are strictly enforced during the winter months when snow accumulation of over 2 inches is present. 

 
The following streets located within the 42nd Ward are affected by this ban:     

  • Madison Street, from Canal Street to Austin Boulevard
  • Washington Street, from Des Plaines to Austin Boulevard
  • Lake Street, from Canal Street to Austin Boulevard
  • Grand Avenue, from Columbus Drive to Harlem Avenue
  • North Avenue, from Clark Street to Austin Boulevard
  • Division Street, from Lake Shore Drive to Austin Boulevard
  • Chicago Avenue, from Lake Shore Drive to Austin Boulevard
  • Clark Street, from North Avenue to Devon Street
  • Milwaukee Avenue, from Kinzie Street to Devon Street 

Please click on the following links for a comprehensive MAP and LIST of all the arterial street snow routes in the City of Chicago.       

Arterial Street Snow Route parking restrictions signs are posted throughout the designated routes.  Please be aware of these signs indicating the parking restrictions.

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MaggieDaleyParkUpdateMaggie Daley Park November 30, 2012 Construction Update

December 3, 2012

Construction is well underway in Maggie Daley Park!

   

Tree removal and tree salvage operation are completed for the project as well as the installation of the site erosion control measures and the removal of the playground. The removal and salvage of the existing light poles and fixtures continues.  Tennis court removal and skating rink removal is also in progress in Daley Bicentennial. 

The topsoil removal in Peanut Park is complete and has begun in Daley Bicentennial. Approximately 8,000 cubic yards of topsoil has been stockpiled in Peanut Park to date. Following the completion of the topsoil removal, the subsoil will be removed in quadrants to expose the roof of the garage structure for repairs.

Upcoming construction work planned for the next month includes the continued removal of the existing light poles, the removal of the tennis courts and skating rink as well as the continued topsoil removal from Daley Bicentennial to the staging area within Peanut Park.

For additional information, please visit www.northgrantpark.org or contact Nichole Sheehan, Project Manager for the Chicago Park District at 312-742-4290 or nichole.sheehan@chicagoparkdistrict.com

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Condominium Refuse Rebate Program

2012 REBATE APPLICATIONS DUE BY JANUARY 2, 2013

December 3, 2012

*** The following information is intended for Condominium Property Managers and Condominium Board Members regarding the annual Condominium Refuse Rebate application. One application per Condominium Association shall be submitted by the Property Management Company or Condominium Association. ***

ATTENTION PROPERTY MANAGERS:  

You must return all completed 2012 refuse rebate applications to Alderman Reilly's City Hall office no later than JANUARY 2, 2013, or your application may be denied.

DO NOT DELAY!

Application forms and additional information are available at the Committee on Finance website.   Submit completed applications to Alderman Reilly's City Hall Office, located at 121 N. LaSalle Street, Room 200 no later than January 2, 2013, or your application may be denied.  

Please ensure that completed applications are sent via a method that provides a "delivery confirmation" receipt.

If you have any questions about the Refuse Rebate program, please contact the Committee on Finance at (312) 744-3332 or Alderman Reilly's City Hall Office at 312-744-3062 or via email at rebates@ward42chicago.com.

Please note: Applications submitted after January 2, 2013 may be ineligible for the 2012 rebate and all subsequent years.

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Reconstructed Wacker Drive Now Open!

December 3, 2012

The Wacker Drive and Congress Parkway Interchange, a major thoroughfare for Chicago commuters through the heart of downtown, completely reopened to traffic last Friday, November 30.  The historic reconstruction project dramatically benefits motorists and pedestrians through less congestion, easier navigation and faster, safer travel through state-of-the-art engineering and technology.

The $303 million project created or supported 3,100 jobs and was completed on time and on budget.  It completes the modernization of historic Lower and Upper Wacker Drive from Randolph Street to Congress Boulevard, and reconfigures the busy Congress Parkway Interchange.

The project was managed by the Chicago Department of Transportation and funded by the State of Illinois through the Governor's 2009 "Jump Start" Capital Improvement Program and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Bridge Program.  The total project cost was $303 million with $240 million being reimbursed by the federal government, $60 million from the state of Illinois Jump Start program, and $3 million from the City of Chicago. 

Wider roadways and bridges, safer merging ramps, pedestrian "islands", reconfigured traffic signals, and better lighting and ventilation in Lower Wacker are key features of the renovation. The revitalization of Wacker Drive will now make it easier to navigate and relieve congestion in Chicago's Loop. The east-west section of Wacker Drive was renovated in 2001.

Upper Wacker Drive is now significantly improved from Randolph to Congress. Ramps to Lower Wacker Drive at Jackson, Adams and Washington were removed and replaced with landscaped medians.  In addition to the medians, Upper Wacker Drive is now outfitted with sidewalk planters and decorative light fixtures.  The ramp at Monroe was removed and replaced with a new one-way ramp to Lower Wacker Drive.

Lower Wacker has a series of improvements from Randolph to Congress.  The deteriorated viaduct structure built in the 1950s was replaced, lifting the vertical clearance by more than one foot.  New lighting improves visibility and new ventilation equipment improves air quality.  The service drive and through lanes on Lower Wacker are also separated, alleviating congestion and expediting traffic.

The Congress Parkway Interchange reconfiguration improves traffic safety and creates new green space.  Improvements included moving the eastbound Congress exit ramp at Franklin below ground and moving the Lower Wacker Drive entrance ramp onto westbound Congress below ground.  

Traffic improvements include removing the Franklin ramp onto westbound Congress. This eliminated the double-merge with the Lower Wacker Drive ramp onto westbound Congress.  Additionally, the Lower Wacker ramp now has a longer merge lane.

The Wacker Drive project also incorporated a number of environmentally sustainable elements and practices.  The Congress Parkway Interchange reconstruction created three acres of new green space with a park area between Franklin and Wells.  The City plans to plant meadow grass, upright deciduous trees, flowering trees, evergreen trees, deciduous shade trees, perennials and shrubs in this area, which will be publicly accessible.

Additional green space will be created at Upper Wacker Drive by replacing ramps to Lower Wacker at Jackson, Adams and Washington with landscaped medians.

Other sustainable elements include: LED traffic signals, which are much more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and longer-lasting; a stormwater management system designed to direct storm runoff into the combined sewer system instead of the Chicago River; and the extensive use of recycled steel and concrete in construction.

Click here to read the full press release or visit www.wackerdrive.net for more information about this project.  

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New Bike Lanes Installed on Dearborn Street in the Loop

December 3, 2012

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) took advantage of favorable weather this weekend to install the Dearborn Street two-way barrier-protected bike lanes.  It will be the first two-way bike route with dedicated bicycle traffic signals in Chicago.  

Work started at Polk Street and will continue north to Kinzie Street with the goal of completing the roadway striping this weekend and officially opening the new bike lanes by mid-December, weather permitting. 

This stretch of Dearborn Street will continue to be one-way northbound for vehicle traffic, but will function as a two-way street for bicyclists, with southbound bicyclists located adjacent to the west curb and northbound bicyclists located between southbound bicyclists and parked cars.  To install the protected bike lanes, one motor vehicle travel lane will be removed between Polk Street and Wacker Drive. 

Every intersection will have bicycle traffic signals to provide guidance for southbound bicyclists, and to separate northbound bicyclists from motorists turning left off Dearborn Street onto westbound cross streets.  The bike traffic signals were installed in mid-November, and will be activated when the bike lanes are complete. 

For motorists, new left turn lanes and dedicated left turn arrows at westbound cross streets will allow for more efficient turns off Dearborn.  Loading zones will also be clearly marked to ensure their proper use.     

CDOT is committed to improving the safety for all roadway users, and the Dearborn Street barrier-protected bike lanes will provide bicyclists with a safe and comfortable route, making a key connection for people who commute via bicycle through the heart of the Loop.  This project will balance roadway space to ensure that pedestrians, transit users, bicyclists and motorists can travel safely.

Please click here to read the press release.

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VaccinateChicagoWeekIt's Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot During Chicago's Inaugural "Vaccinate Chicago Week"

December 3, 2012

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has teamed up with Walgreens and community partners across Chicago to remind you that It's Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot during "Vaccinate Chicago Week," running December 2- 8, 2012. 

The inaugural Vaccinate Chicago Week encourages Chicagoans to get a flu shot at a time when they may be at greater risk of getting the flu, as influenza activity most often peaks in January and February in the U.S.  CDPH urges every Chicagoan over 6 months of age to get a flu shot to help them stay healthy throughout the season. 

All Vaccinate Chicago Week flu shot clinics provide FREE flu shots and are open to the public.

42nd Ward Flu Shot Clinic:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

9:00am - 3:00pm

City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street

The Chicago Area Immunization Campaign, Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, University of Chicago and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois are also taking part in Vaccinate Chicago Week, a localized celebration of the CDC's National Influenza Vaccination Week on December 2 through December 8.

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FREE Weatherization Workshops

December 3, 2012

The cold Chicago winter is almost here, is your home ready?  Chicago Conservation Corps (C3) will hold several FREE weatherization workshops in the coming weeks.  Participants will learn how to save money on energy bills by stopping air leaks and drafts, and can practice using the materials available in their free weatherization starter kit.  All events are open to both homeowners and renters in Chicago.  Space is limited and advanced registration is required.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

  • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. - 8441 S. Yates Boulevard.
    Register: (773) 386-3259
  • 12:30 to 2 p.m. - 11705 S. Elizabeth Street.
    Register: loustew.ad@gmail.com    
  • 2 to 3 p.m. - Logan Square (address upon RSVP).   Register: weatherize2012@gmail.com  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

  • 12:30 to 2 p.m. - 4445 S. Wabash Avenue.
    Register: here    
  • 2 to 3 p.m. - Logan Square (address upon RSVP). 
    Register: weatherize2012@gmail.com 

Can't attend one of these workshops? Visit the C3 website for more information, including videos and local resources to help you through your weatherization process. 

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ComEd Urges Customers to be Aware of Utility Scams

December 3, 2012

ComEd is warning customers to be on the alert for scam artists claiming to be a ComEd representative seeking payment. 

Over the last few weeks, ComEd has seen an increase in reports of individuals calling customers claiming to be ComEd representatives and telling the customer their service will be disconnected unless payment is made.  They instruct the individual to buy a prepaid credit card and call them back with the personal identification number (PIN).  Variations of the scam include stories that the customer's billing cycle has changed and payment is needed immediately, or that the account is past due and immediate payment is required to avoid immediate disconnection, or that the customer's previous payments were not accepted or processed.

ComEd reminds its customers that scammers may call or come to your home. Representatives from ComEd always carry proper identification and never ask customers for cash or personal financial information. Customers can verify if a ComEd worker is in the area or whether a caller is an employee by calling 1-800-EDISON1.

The Illinois Commerce Commission has also received similar complaints from ComEd customers. The ICC is advising customers that in most cases utilities are required to provide advance notice prior to disconnection of service and when in doubt customers should call the utility or visit its website to verify their account status and the utility's authorized payment methods.

People that believe they have been a phone scam target are urged to contact the Illinois Attorney General's office toll free at 1-800-386-5438 (TTY 1-800-964-3013) or visit the Illinois Attorney General's web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov and click on the link "Protecting Consumers".

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2013 CTA Budget Recommendations

December 3 , 2012

Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool recently proposed a $1.39 billion budget for 2013 that maintains current service levels, freezes base fares, and calls for modest reductions in discounts for CTA passes to bring them in line with other major U.S. cities.  To read the full press release, please click here.

CTA customers and the general public will have the opportunity to provide comments to the Chicago Transit Board regarding the President's 2013 Budget Recommendations at the following budget meetings:

Monday, December 10, 2012, 6:00pm

CTA Headquarters, 567 W. Lake St., 2nd Floor

Monday, December 17, 2012, 6:00pm

Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd., Auditorium

*Both facilities are accessible to people with disabilities


Written and oral comments will be taken into consideration prior to implementation of the 2013 Budget and Program, the 2013 Capital Program of Projects, and the Financial Plan. This input will be welcomed at the hearing or by correspondence addressed to Gregory P. Longhini, Assistant Secretary of the Board, Chicago Transit Authority, 567 W. Lake Street, Chicago, Illinois 60661. Input can also be sent via e-mail to: glonghini1@transitchicago.com.

Additional Information & Resources:

CTA Finance & Budget page

Download the President's 2013 Budget Recommendations book 

Pass increase chart

Frequently Asked Questions

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City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation Now Hiring General Laborers

December 3, 2012

The Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) is now hiring general laborers to support the City's efforts to roll out residential recycling citywide in the coming year and expand forestry services, as outlined in Mayor Emanuel's 2013 budget.

The new general laborer position, made possible by a work rule change, will be a hybrid position that provides intensive job and classroom training for a variety of duties within the DSS, including tree trimming, graffiti removal, sanitation removal, and hand labor work. DSS will be able to move employees freely through the work types, based on workload.

In addition, the City will ensure that a minimum of 25 percent of candidates referred to DSS for hiring consideration are veterans and for the first time ever, that 25 percent are Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school graduates.  The CPS hiring preference was announced earlier this year in an effort to incentivize students to stay in school and graduate.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and apply online by December 12 at the Department of Human Resources CAREERS  website: www.cityofchicago.org/CAREERS.

If you need assistance with your application, please call the Department of Human Resources at 312-744-4976 or visit them at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Room 100.

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Motorist Advisory - Temporary Testing for New Speed Camera Equipment

December 3, 2012

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) is advising motorists that there will be temporary testing of speed camera equipment at four locations during a month-long evaluation of technologies.

The systems will operate from December 3 to January 3 for the sole purpose of evaluating equipment.  No violations will be issued based on data from the cameras during the test period.  However, motorists should always obey the posted speed limit.

City officials are testing both mobile camera systems and permanent camera systems, which have been temporarily installed at:

  • McKinley Park, at approximately 2223 W. Pershing Road
  • Warren Park, at approximately 6541 N. Western Ave
  • Dulles Elementary School, at approximately 6340 S. King Drive
  • Near North Montessori School, at approximately 1446 W. Division

A variety of factors determined the test locations, including location within a safety zone, frequency of speed related crashes, and ease of accessibility to power.  The systems will be removed after the evaluation period.

Signs are installed to inform motorists of the evaluation period and that no violations will be issued.

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Drive Less Live More Initiative

December 3, 2012

Imagine getting real rewards for leaving your car at home.  Drivelesslivemore.com is a new initiative that will give employees throughout northeast Illinois a new perspective on commuting and have them smiling and ready for their best day of work yet. The newly launched program-a joint effort of the Regional Transportation Authority and Active Transportation Alliance-is free to use for everyone, including workplaces like yours.

Anyone can sign up at drivelesslivemore.com and begin tracking his or her trips through an interactive calendar. Once you start, you'll be eligible right away for rewards. The website also offers helpful tools for planning trips, calculating costs, and more.

Employers can use the site to measure demand or effectiveness for workplace travel benefits, such as pre-tax transit or indoor bike parking, and even add their own employee rewards!

Drivelesslivemore.com promotes both wellness and environmental sustainability.  It's an easy and effective way to support clean-air initiatives and build a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace:

  • Employers implementing health promotion programs have achieved on average: -28 percent reduction in sick leave -26 percent reduction in direct health care costs.
  • Public transit can leave users an average of 6.5 pounds lighter, and over time make people 81 percent less likely to become obese.
  • A Minnesota bike parts company recently attributed an annual healthcare savings of $220,000 in part to its bike commuting program.
  • Effective workplace travel plans can prevent up to 10 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually and reduce parking costs by 20 percent or more.

Take the healthy route as you travel through life-join today at www.drivelesslivemore.com.

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B37Community Presentation for Block 37 Signage Proposal

December 3, 2012

Alderman Reilly invites you to a community presentation for the amendment to the Planned Development that governs Block 37.  The City has required the ownership of Block 37 to amend the Planned Development because their proposed signage package is in conflict with Chicago Zoning Ordinance.   Prior to any hearing before the Chicago Plan Commission, Alderman Reilly requires a public meeting to inform area residents of the proposal and gather feedback.


This public meeting will address the specifics of the sign package which is designed to secure retail tenants suitable for this prominent location within our downtown core.   The ownership of Block 37 will be present to answer any questions you may have.  The Chicago Loop Alliance supports this amendment to this development and the proposed sign package.


WHAT:     108 North State Street - Block 37


WHO:      Chicago Loop Alliance and the Friends of Downtown


WHEN:     Monday, December 10th, 2012at 6:00 pm


WHERE:   Block 37

              108 N. State Street

Corner of State and Randolph Before:

b37after

Corner of State and Randolph After:

B37after  


Please click on the following links to view the PD Amendment Application and renderings

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Take the Pledge to Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink & Buy Local this Holiday Season!

November 26, 2012

Join in building a new Chicago tradition that strengthens the local economy, expands employment, nurtures a sense of community, and provides a more relaxed, fun, and rewarding holiday experience.  As customers, a large portion of our annual shopping budget will be spent in November and December.  By making it a habit to direct a portion of those dollars to locally owned businesses, we can build a more prosperous Chicago.


Take the pledge to shift a small percentage of your holiday shopping dollars to locally owned stores, restaurants and entertainment establishments, and together we can keep millions of dollars in Chicago.   The Unwrap Chicago campaign urges Chicago households to pledge to shift at least $100 of planned holiday spending from chain stores to locally owned merchants.  By doing so, this action would provide a boost to the local economy, keep more dollars in your community, create and preserve local jobs and reduce your carbon footprint.


Chicago is a city of vibrant neighborhoods rich with character.  By shopping local, you experience Chicago's unique flavors and textures while supporting the city's local living economy.

Visit www.unwrapchicago.org for more information.  Take the Eat, Drink & Buy Local Pledge today!   

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2012 Safe Shopping Guide

November 26, 2012

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently released her annual Safe Shopping Guide for 2012, detailing recalled products to warn parents about potentially dangerous toys and household items in their homes and to help Illinois families create a safe environment for the holidays.


The Safe Shopping Guide features toys and other products that were recalled over the past year and could potentially pose a danger to children - from toys covered in lead paint and baby dolls that pose a choking hazard to defective high chairs and strollers.

In addition, this year's guide features a new section on food safety in light of the growing number of food recalls every year and the increasing number of children and adults who are diagnosed with food allergies. The guide identifies common causes for food recalls, whether due to contamination or allergens, and outlines the important steps families can take to ensure the meals at their holiday celebrations are safe to eat.

Consumers are urged to review the guide and use it as a resource during this holiday shopping season. The guide can be particularly important for consumers purchasing items secondhand at garage sales or online due to the possibility that secondhand sellers may not be up to date on items that have been recalled.

To view and download the Safe Shopping Guide, please visit Attorney General Madigan's website.  You can also request a free, printed copy in the mail by calling the Attorney General's Recall Hotline at 1-888-414-7678.

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Christkindlmarket Chicago Now Open for the Season!

November 26, 2012

Once a year, Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago transforms into a European holiday village filled with candy cane striped wooden huts and twinkling lights that harkens back to the traditional holiday market in Nuremberg, Germany. The magical atmosphere of the Christkindlmarket Chicago returns to Daley Plaza for its seventeenth year and is open daily from November 20 until December 24, 2012.

 

The Christkindlmarket Chicago is host to over 50 vendors boasting one-of-a-kind offerings that are destined to become treasured gifts for loved ones of all ages.  The vendors' traditional wooden huts are filled with holiday ornaments of all colors, materials and sizes, nutcrackers, cuckoo-clocks, beer steins, wooden toys, jewelry, wood carvings, and European sweets and treats. The market also has various heated walk-in cabins that offer a cozy place to shop for unique gifts.  The Grand Timber House and Festival Tent provide visitors a place to warm up, relax, sit down, and enjoy a place to eat and drink.

The air at the Christkindlmarket is filled with aromas of holiday spices, sweets and treats.  German delicacies such as sausages, potato pancakes, and schnitzel sizzle at every corner of the market and the aroma of the traditional holiday goods like stollen, strudel, pretzels, and roasted nuts seize the senses. Visitors can enjoy an abundance of delicious fare and quench their thirst with a refreshing imported German beer or warm up with a cup of Glühwein (hot spiced wine), which is served in a unique collectable souvenir boot-mug. 

Experience this unique holiday tradition in the heart of downtown Chicago.  The market will be open daily from 11am until 8pm Sunday through Thursday, and until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays. On Thursday November 22, and Monday December 24, the market will close at 4pm.  Admission is always FREE!  For further information, please visit the official Christkindlmarket website at www.christkindlmarket.com or call (312) 494-2175.

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Madison Street Bridge Celebrates 90th Anniversary

November 19, 2012

November 29th will mark the 90th anniversary of the opening of the bascule bridge at Madison Street.  The design process, which began in 1913, was complicated by the proximity to Union Station and the railroad tracks along the west bank. The city decided to complete the bridges at Jackson Blvd., Lake St., and Monroe St. first.  Construction on this bridge began in 1920.

The key players for the construction and design of the bridge are summarized on the bridgehouse plaque. These individuals and organizations were active on most of the bridges built between 1913 and 1930 - the bridge era most influenced by the 1909 Plan of Chicago.

The ideal bridge aesthetics during this period dictated that deck support be placed below street level where possible.  This bridge is the first bridge to implement the rail height truss, an innovation that satisfied aesthetic and structural requirements.

While the current bridge celebrates 90 years, this crossing is one of the six downtown crossings that has been in use since the 1840's.  In this time, the crossing has seen the three major types of movable bridges that mark Chicago's bridge history. 

The first bridge type was a movable pontoon bridge, followed by swing bridges, the last of which was replaced by the bascule in place today.  Because it is located near both Union Station and the Olgilvie Transportation center, this bridge is one of the busiest pedestrian crossings downtown.  Approximately 42,000 people make their way over the span each day. 

When this bridge was opened in 1922, Chicago was still a busy port.  In the early years, this bridge was raised approximately 2,500 times per year.  Now it's raised about 50 times per year for the annual sail boat migration to and from Lake Michigan.  It is estimated the bridge has been raised approximately 48,000 times in its 90-year history.

This bridge was officially christened "Lyric Opera Bridge" at a ceremony on January 26,1989 commemorating the 35th season of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  According to the Chicago Tribune, 2,200 silver balloons were released as Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" played during the eight minute outside portion of the celebration.

For more information, please contact Jim Phillips at 312-540-0696 or visit www.chicagoloopbridges.com.

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Construction Resumes at 111 W. Wacker Drive!

November 5, 2012

111  

111b  (Commissioner Merchant, Commissioner Mooney, Alderman Reilly, Tom Villanova and Curt Bailey)

Alderman Reilly helped celebrate construction beginning at 111 W. Wacker Drive after four years of inactivity on site.  111 W. Wacker is the site of the former Waterview Tower, which anticipated a Shangri-La Hotel and luxury condominiums.  In 2008, construction reached the 28th floor but has been stalled ever since. 

Related Midwest partnered with NY-based architect Handel Architects, Chicago-based Epstein, Kara Mann Design, and general contractor Lend Lease U.S. Construction to restart construction. The 950,000 square foot building will include 504 luxury rental units - studios, convertibles, one-, two- and three-bedrooms - with unrivaled amenities and services, and more than 400 parking spaces. The building will also include unique and signature restaurant and retail spaces accessible from the street level.

Once completed, the site will house the premier rental property on the Chicago River between the Loop business district and bustling River North submarket. The Silver LEED designed tower will also bring more than 900 new construction jobs to Chicago, demonstrating a visible recovery in one of Chicago's most prominent real estate locations. The development is scheduled to be complete in the Spring of 2014.  Click here to view the building renderings.

Recent Press:

Abc 7 News

Official Press Release

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Wells Sreet Bridge to Close for Reconstruction November 5, 2012

Ocober 31, 2012

Wells Bridge Detours

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will close the Wells Street Bridge over the Chicago River to traffic and pedestrians beginning on Monday, November 5th for a year-long reconstruction of the historic structure. Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) trains will continue to use the bridge during the project, except for two minor service interruptions next spring.

 The Wells Street Bridge has been in use for 90 years and serves as a key transportation link for cars, trains, bikes and pedestrians, but has outlived its useful life and requires a complete reconstruction. The bridge's historic elements, railings, bridge houses and major structural components will be replaced to preserve the 1920s look of the bridge. Crews will replace the trusses and all of the steel framing for the lower level road and upper level railway structures. The mechanical and electrical components will also be replaced.

Work will begin Monday, November 5, 2012, and the project is expected to be complete by SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2013.   

Project Scope:             

The project involves the complete rehabilitation of the Wells Street Bascule Bridge including structural steel replacement, center lock and rear lock rehabilitation, sidewalk and roadway replacement, CTA track replacement, bridge house improvements at both the northwest and southeast corners of the bridge, and machinery and electrical rehabilitation. 

Traffic Impacts:

The bridge roadway will be closed for one year - the full duration of the project. Southbound vehicular and pedestrian traffic on Wells will be rerouted to the LaSalle and Clark Street bridges over the Chicago River. Southbound bicycle traffic will be able to cross the river on the Clark Street Bridge.


Detour Routes: 

The full closure will take effect after morning rush hour at 10:00 am on Monday, November 5, 2012.

  • Vehicular Reroute - Wells Street, east on Illinois Street, south on LaSalle Street, west on Wacker Drive and south on Wells Street
  • Bicycle Reroute - Wells Street, east on Kinzie Street, south on Clark Street
  • Buses Reroute - Wells Street, east on Hubbard Street, south on LaSalle Street, west on Wacker Drive and south on Wells Street

CTA Bus Impacts:

The #11 and #125 buses will be rerouted to Hubbard then south on LaSalle to Wacker Drive and back to Wells. The Merchandise Mart bus stop will be closed until December, 2013. Users will be directed to the Hubbard Street stop.

CTA Rail Impacts:

CTA rail service interruptions will be kept at a minimum.  At the same time that the Wells Street Bridge work is under way, the CTA will rebuild the 'L' structure junction at Lake and Wells Streets, known as Tower 18. That work will require two nine-day closures of the Wells bridge to CTA Brown and Purple Line trains - one in early March 2013, the other in late April. 

During the two nine-day closures, to run from early morning Saturday through early Monday of the following week, CTA will provide alternative bus and rail service.   On weekdays, Brown Line trains will alternate between terminating at Merchandise Mart or continuing into the Loop through the State Street subway. Bus shuttles will be available from the Mart as well as special shuttle service on the Loop Elevated to make sure passengers can efficiently reach their usual destinations. 

The Tower 18 junction is one of the busiest railroad junctions in the country, handling nearly 700 trains on an average weekday and nearly 500 trains on an average weekend. Five of the CTA's eight rail lines pass through the junction. 

The Tower 18 work was originally scheduled to be part of the ongoing Loop Track renewal project, but by performing the work while CDOT completes the Wells Street Bridge repairs, CTA will reduce the duration of the work by eight days. Additionally, combining the work will save CDOT and CTA $500,000 in construction coordination costs. 

If you have any questions about the project, please call the Chicago Department of Transportation's Division of Engineering at 312-744-3520 or email cdotnews@cityofchicago.org.  To read a copy of the CDOT press release, click here

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Open311 to Partner with SeeClickFix to Further Enhance 311 Service Reporting

Ocotber 29, 2012

SeeClickFix, the most widely-distributed citizen reporting tool in the world, has now integrated Chicago's Open311 tools into their platform, thereby empowering residents to submit service requests via SeeClickFix.com, iPhone, Android and Facebook applications. This partnership will allow the City of Chicago's 311 service center to improve the public's ability to submit and track 311 service requests. 

When someone submits a service request on SeeClickFix, the City will automatically post a confirmation and a service number. For  the most popular service requests, a tracking number and link will be posted enabling residents to use Chicago's 311 Service Tracker to see the status of their issue and sign up to receive an email notification when it has been resolved.  

To read the full press release, please click here.

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2013 City Budget Public Hearing and City Council Meeting on Wednesday, October 31st

October 29, 2012

The next meeting of the Chicago City Council will be held on Wednesday, October 31st at 10:00am in Council Chambers on the 2nd Floor of City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago.  If you would like to provide feedback to the Budget Committee on the official record, please attend this Public Hearing session. A live video stream is viewable on the Chicago City Clerk's website and archive videos can be seen on the Clerk's  Legislative Information Center.

As Vice-Chair of the Budget Committee, Alderman Reilly encourages you to participate in this important annual event.  The Alderman also welcomes written feedback and ideas via email to office@ward42chicago.com.  

 

The remaining budget hearing schedule is posted below, and can also be found on the City Clerk's website:

10/31/12 WEDNESDAY -  

City Council Meeting - Public Hearing

11/7/12 WEDNESDAY -   

Budget Committee Meeting - 1:00pm

11/8/12 THURSDAY -      

City Council - Budget Committee Reports

Annual Appropriation Ordinance *

CDBG Ordinance

* Defer and Publish

11/13/12 TUESDAY -     

Budget Committee Meeting - 1:00pm

11/15/12 THURSDAY -   

City Council Meeting - Vote to Adopt Both

Annual Appropriation Ordinance * *

CDBG Ord, (if deferred and published 11/8)

* * Amendments Up or Down

If you would like to review Mayor Emanuel's 2013 Budget address as prepared, please click on this LINK

Mayor Budget Summary and Press Release LINK.   

2013 Budget Overview, Recommendations and Draft Action Plan.

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2013 Cook County Proposed Budget Now Available for Public Review

October 29, 2012

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle recently presented the Proposed Fiscal Year 2013 Executive Budget for Cook County and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

To view the Cook County 2013 Budget Public Hearing Schedule, please click here.

For more information on the 2013 Cook County Budget, please visit the official website, www.cookcountyil.gov/budget.

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Pre-registration Open for 2012 Assessment Complaints

October 29, 2012

The Cook County Board of Review is now accepting pre-registration 2012 assessment complaints from individuals filing on their own property for any township that has not yet opened for review by the Board of Review for its 2012 session.

The Board of Review will process any pre-registration complaint form for review once the relevant township opens for filing during the 2012 session.  If you would like to file a pre-registration assessment complaint at this time, please click here.

The Board of Review has started its 2012 session.  During this session, the Board of Review will open each township in the County for a thirty-day (30) filing period.  During this filing period, the Board of Review will accept assessment complaints for property located in a designated township. 

Individual property owners may file an assessment complaint online regarding their property during pre-registration or during the period that the relevant township is open for its thirty-day (30) filing period. 

Please be advised, that the Board of Review will not accept any pre-registration complaints or regular assessment complaints for a property located in a township where the thirty-day (30) filling period has ended for the 2012 session.

For more information about the preregistration period or appealing with the Cook County Board of Review, please contact the Chief Clerk's office at 312-603-5586.

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North Columbus Drive Bridge Celebrates 30th Anniversary this Halloween

October 29, 2012

columbusbridge

The youngest downtown river crossing will mark 30 years on Halloween. The Columbus Dr. bridge was officially opened to traffic on October 31, 1982.

The christening of the Columbus Drive / William Peter Fahey Bridge was marked by a Sunday brunch for dignitaries in the Hyatt Regency hosted by Mayor Jane Byrne. A ribbon cutting ceremony at the bridge followed. The family of William Fahey, a Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty in February of 1982, was in the first car to cross the bridge. The plaque honoring Officer Fahey can be found on the NE corner of the bridge.

Columbus Dr. was a key piece in the master plan to provide another north / south traffic link across the river between Michigan Ave. and Lake Shore Dr. This link improved traffic flow and accessibility between the growing Illinois Center and Streeterville areas. In addition, it became the detour that minimized the traffic impacts of the Lake Shore Dr. realignment project that followed later in the decade.

This modern bridge used the basic concepts of the Chicago-type fixed trunnion bascule bridge with up-to-date features of the era. This is the first of the downtown bascules to use box girders instead of trusses to support the leaves. Technological advances in steel and its fabrication allowed bridge designers to keep all structural support below the bridge deck - an aesthetic goal for downtown bridges dating back to the 1909 Plan of Chicago.

For more information, please contact Jim Phillips at 312-540-0696 or visit www.chicagoloopbridges.com.

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Oak Street Closure between Clark and LaSalle 

October 29, 2012

Oak Street between Clark Street and LaSalle Street will be closed for an emergency sewer main replacement and corresponding work required of the private utilities.  Appropriate detour signage has been placed.  Parking will be restricted on Oak Street but sidewalks will be fully accessible for pedestrians.

Westbound traffic will be closed until December.  Traffic will be detoured via the following route: southbound Clark Street, westbound Chicago Avenue, northbound LaSalle Drive.

Eastbound traffic (1 lane) will be allowed during both morningand evening rush periods, but will be closed during off-peak hours, again thru December.  Traffic will be detoured via the following route: southbound LaSalle Drive, eastbound Chicago Avenue, northbound Dearborn Street.

The north/south alley between Clark and LaSalle that connects Oak and Maple Street can only be accessed via Maple.  The alley driveway will be closed at Oak Street, so drivers will have access to the full length of the alley but cannot exit or enter at Oak Street. 

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Maggie Daley Park Construction Update

October 26, 2012

Construction fence installation will be completed around the perimeter of Daley Bicentennial and Peanut Park by Monday, October 29th. Removal of the above-ground features such as benches, play equipment and other site furnishings is underway and will continue over the next several weeks.

\Tree removal in Peanut Park will begin Monday, October 29th followed by other site clearing activities to prepare Peanut Park for the soil staging. The tree removal and site clearing at Peanut Park will be completed in two weeks.

At Daley Bicentennial, 160 honeylocust trees (currently marked with a ribbon) have been identified for removal, salvage and re-use as features in the park development. A demonstration tree felling of these salvage trees will occur on November 1st with four trees removed by the Contractor during this time.

The week of November 5th marks the start of the tree removal activity at Daley Bicentennial. The salvage trees will be cut, craned out of position, loaded onto a flatbed truck and transported to a storage site for processing. The remaining trees will be removed, chipped and disposed of by the Contractor during this same period. The removal activity at Daley Bicentennial is anticipated to take six weeks to complete.

For additional information, please visit www.northgrantpark.org or contact Nichole Sheehan, Project Manager for the Chicago Park District at 312-742-4290 or nichole.sheehan@chicagoparkdistrict.com.

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Alderman Reilly's City Club Address

October 22, 2012

CityClub

Please click on the link below to view a video of the Alderman's speech:
http://cityclubvideo.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/hon-brendan-reilly-alderman-city-of-chicago-42nd-ward-2/

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Public Informational Meeting on Electricity Aggregation Referendum

October 22, 2012

On November 6, 2012, City residents will vote on an Electricity Aggregation referendum question that would authorize the City of Chicago to negotiate lower electricity rates on behalf of residential and small business electricity consumers located within the City.

Public informational meetings have been scheduled to allow residents to learn more:

  • Tuesday, October 23, 7:00pm at Arturo Velazquez Institute, 2800 S. Western Ave.
  • Thursday, October 25, 7:00pm at Kennedy-King College, 6301 S. Halsted St.
  • Tuesday, October 30, 7:00pm at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave.
  • Thursday, November 1, 7:00pm at Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett Ave.

For more information about electricity aggregation, please click on the following links to view FAQ, Facts Brochure and Handout.

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Public Meetings for Chicago Bike Share Program Plan

October 22, 2012


The Chicago Department of Transportation will hold five public meetings to introduce Chicago residents and businesses to the city's new bike share program. Representatives from CDOT and Alta, the bicycle provider and operator, will discuss the new program and answer questions.

Meeting attendees can suggest locations to install bike stations in the proposed service area or use a newly launched website, www.chicagobikes.org/bikeshare, to suggest locations for bike stations and receive additional information on the program.

Chicago's initial bike share service area will span from 41st Street to Montrose Avenue and from the lakefront to Damen Avenue.  The meetings are free and open to everyone, with no RSVP required. All meeting locations are accessible by CTA.

Chicago Bike Share Meetings:

Monday, October 29 

11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Chicago Architecture Foundation
224 S. Michigan Avenue

3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Pop-up meeting at Union Station

6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Chicago Architecture Foundation
224 S. Michigan Avenue


Tuesday, October 30
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Lincoln Belmont Public Library
1659 W. Melrose Street

Wednesday, November 7
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Charles Hayes Center
4859 S. Wabash Avenue

Chicago's bike share system will provide a convenient, easy-to-use transit option available 24/7. It is envisioned for point-to-point short trips, or as alternative option for a multi-mode commute. Users will pick up a bike from a self-service docking station and return it to the station nearest their destination.

The specially designed bikes will be comfortable for all users.  Features include a one-size fits all design, upright handlebars, wide seats, hand brakes, and a chain guard to protect clothing.


Membership and user fees will be affordable for Chicagoans and visitors alike. Users will be able to purchase yearly memberships or daily passes.  Members will sign up via a website, while one-time cyclists will use a credit card at the automated kiosk. 

The solar-powered docking stations will be placed approximately a quarter-mile apart and located in high-density areas, including near transit stations. CDOT will work with the operator and the public to determine station locations. Stations are modular and mobile; they can be expanded in reaction to demand, or moved based on need or construction. Initial funding for the program is from federal grants for projects that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. 

People are encouraged to visit www.chicagobikes.org/bikeshare to learn more about the program, and follow CDOT on Twitter @ChicagoDOT and Facebook.com/CDOTnews.

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Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 Unveiled

October 22, 2012

Last week, Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) released the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012, the first new plan for strengthening the city's arts and cultural sector in more than 25 years.

The Plan was developed after months of meetings with stakeholders and community members across the city and includes input from thousands of Chicagoans. The new Plan will serve as the central planning document for enhancing Chicago's thriving arts and culture sector, supporting creativity, innovation and excellence in the arts. The final Plan and executive summary can be downloaded at:

www.chicagoculturalplan2012.org, and www.cityofchicago.org/DCASE

The Chicago Cultural Plan 2012 contains a set of 10 initiatives with 36 recommendations and over 200 ideas. The result is a call to action for communities, individuals, government, cultural institutions, non-profits and corporations to work together to ensure success. The ten initiatives of the plan include:

  1. Reinvigorating arts education and creating new opportunities for lifelong learning.
  2. Attracting and retaining artists and creative professionals.
  3. Elevating and expanding neighborhood cultural assets.
  4. Facilitating neighborhood planning of cultural activity.
  5. Optimizing city policies and regulation that impact the arts and creative industries.
  6. Strengthening capacity within the cultural sector.
  7. Promoting culture's value on Chicago's economy and our way of life.
  8. Strengthening Chicago as a global cultural destination.
  9. Developing and sustaining innovation in culture.
  10. Integrating culture into daily life - across public, nonprofit and private sectors.

Click here to read the press release.  For additional information on the Chicago Cultural Plan please call 312-744-3316, email culturalplan@cityofchicago.org or visit the official website www.chicagoculturalplan2012.com.  

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MaggieDaleyParkUpdateMaggie Daley Park Project Overview and Update

October 15, 2012

Maggie Daley Park

North Grant Park, recently rededicated as Maggie Daley Park is poised for a dramatic transformation. As the 3,700 car Millennium Lakeside Parking Structure undergoes extensive repairs to the roof membrane, the complete removal of the park above has provided the Chicago Park District the opportunity to reconsider the design and function of the area above the garage.

The Chicago Park District's goal for this site is to create a world class, multifunctional park and develop landscape experiences that reflect the evolving open space needs of Chicago. The new park will have a distinctive presence that will delight Chicagoans and visitors with signature elements like rock-climbing sculptures, an ice-skating ribbon, and play garden. The landscape spaces encountered through the park will vary in character, scale and seasonal attributes creating a progression that unfolds in space and time. As visitors follow major pathways through the park, they will be introduced to a range of multisensory landscape experiences which are interspersed with views of the lake, the city and the rest of Grant Park.

By replacing the aging urban plaza with a more naturalized multi-use landscape, Maggie Daley Park will contribute distinctive new types of open space and activities to the programmatic range of Grant Park as a whole. With this transformation, Maggie Daley Park is positioned to become a new downtown destination that benefits all of Chicago, drawing visitors from near and far to enjoy an informal place for recreation and relaxation, strong seasonal characteristics, and a connective landscape that will broaden the appeal of Grant Park as a whole.

Pre-Construction

Daley Bicentennial Field House is closed and will remain closed throughout construction. Children's programs are accommodated at Northerly Island (1400 S. Linn White Dr., 312-747-0298) and adult fitness programs are accommodated at Lake Shore Park (808 N. Lake Shore Drive, 312-742-7891). After construction, expanded programming will resume at Daley Bicentennial Field House.

Construction

The Park District has awarded the first phase of the Maggie Daley Park construction to James McHugh Construction Company. Preliminary structural analysis has occurred on the site and construction will begin in mid-October 2012.

Construction fence will be installed around the perimeter of Daley Bicentennial and Peanut Park. Once the site is secured, removal will begin of the above-ground features such as benches, pavement, play equipment, trees and other site features. Soil removal will occur next in the construction sequence. The soil will be removed from above the roof of the garage parking structure and stored at Peanut Park for re-use. Once the soil removal is completed, concrete repairs to the garage and concrete foundations will begin for the new park elements like the play garden and rock climbing walls.

At the completion of Phase I, the garage operator will waterproof the entire garage structure followed by the Park District beginning its second phase of construction. Phase II includes the full re-development of the park. Substantial completion for the entire project is anticipated in Winter 2014, with additional spring plantings in Spring 2015.

Work planned in the next week

Utility locates and the start of the installation of the construction fencing began the week of October 8. Construction fence installation will start in Peanut Park and then progress into Daley Bicentennial Plaza. This activity will take approximately four weeks to complete.

For additional information, please visit www.northgrantpark.org  or contact Nichole Sheehan, Project Manager for the Chicago Park district at 312-742-4290 or nichole.sheehan@chicagoparkdistrict.com.

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LaSalle Street Resurfacing Project Completion!

October 1, 2012

Alderman Reilly is very pleased to announce the recent completion of the LaSalle Street Resurfacing Project which the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) began in mid-June. This long-awaited improvement includes a full resurfacing of LaSalle Street from Kinzie to Division Streets.

Due to the level of disrepair and daily traffic volumes on LaSalle Street, Alderman Reilly requested "priority repair" status by CDOT. In response, CDOT included LaSalle among initial repairs set for the 2012 Arterial Resurfacing Project schedule. The project received funding via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)-commonly referred to as the Federal Stimulus Program.

The resurfacing called for the removal of the existing pavement and installation of an entirely new, more durable street surface, as well as the installation of new pavement markings throughout the transit route. At select locations that had experienced the most significant deterioration, existing curb, gutters and sidewalks were replaced with modern infrastructure.

Additionally, concrete blocks were installed underneath the asphalt street surface at Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus stops. These blocks, known as "bus pads", provide substantial underground support that decreases the likelihood of the formation of potholes or buckled pavement caused by heavy, routine CTA bus traffic.

Please see the below photographs for a visual of the "before" and "after" condition of LaSalle Street:


 LaSalle at Illinois Street facing south

LaSalle Illinois

 
LaSalle at Superior Street facing south 

LaSalle Superior  

While the LaSalle Street Resurfacing Project has been completed, CDOT is in the process of completing street repairs at several dozen other locations throughout the 42nd Ward. As Alderman Reilly's office is made aware of the completion of these projects, we will continue to keep neighborhood residents updated via our weekly e-newsletter!   

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New 42nd Ward Landmark Coming Soon: 1337 N. Dearborn Parkway

September 24, 2012


1337NDearborn

The Augustus Warner House at 1337 N. Dearbornn Parkway, in the Gold Coast community, is an exceptional example of the English Queen Anne style in Chicago.  After learning that a demolition permit was filed, Alderman Reilly visited the site to assess the structure and determine his position.  Alderman Reilly understood immediately that this beautiful historic structure must remain.  The Warner House is not only a stand-alone architectural gem, but is also an important contributing building to an entire city block of important architecture along Dearborn Parkway.

Soon after the owner filed for a demolition permit, Alderman Reilly drafted a letter to the City's Department of Housing and Economic Development's (HED) Historic Preservation Division offering his strong support for the landmark designation of this important historic building. 

Alderman Reilly is pleased to announce that the Chicago Landmarks Commission granted preliminary landmark recommendation for the Augustus Warner House at their September 6, 2012 meeting.  Alderman Reilly was present at the hearing to testify in support of landmark status and represent his constituency who have called and emailed his office asking for preservation over demolition. 

The Alderman's efforts were also successful on another front.  Late last week, the owner of the Warner House voluntarily withdrew his demolition permit application.  Alderman Reilly would like to thank those who participated in the public hearing by submitting testimony or attending the meeting.

To learn more about the Augustus Warner House at 1337 N. Dearborn, click here to view the Preliminary Summary of Information Report provided by the (HED) Historical Preservation Division.

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Time Capsule from 1928 Discovered in Landmark Loop Building and Placed Back by Alderman Reilly with Items from Today!

September 24, 2012

A time capsule was recently discovered during the restoration of 188 West Randolph.  The property, on the National Registrar of Historic Places and was first constructed in 1929 by architect Karl Vitzhum. The building was home to the former Steuben Club, a famous stomping ground for the movers and shakers of the 1920's (most recently depicted in the gangster-era film "Public Enemies"). 

An array of items was found in the time capsule including:

  • Two newspapers including a 1928 Chicago American with the headline "Florida Swept by Hurricane" and a Chicago Evening Post with the headline "Cubs Trample Braves; Sox Lose,"
  • An American flag with 48 stars,
  • The Steuben Club yearbook,
  • Notecards containing the names of the guests at The Steuben Club Gold Party dated 7-18-28 as well as small gold favor baskets filled with pastries from the party.

188WRandolph1  

At some point in the mid-1950's, the time capsule was reopened during a 50's era renovation and items from the period were added to the capsule, including a Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune newspaper dated 9-21-55.

Last Monday, September 17th, Alderman Reilly joined Kenneth E. Barnes, Principal of Randolph Tower Development Company at a ceremony to celebrate placing the time capsule back in cornerstone of the building - 84 years to the day after it was originally put there.  

188WRandolph2  

Several items representing the millennium were added to the box, including: 

  • photographs of project participants,
  • a USB stick containing architectural & engineering drawings of the 2012 rehabilitation,
  • newspapers of the day, a pair of workman's pliers from 1928 found buried in concrete,
  • before and after rehab photos from the National Park Service landmarks approval,
  • a map of the world, and
  • price lists and items representing the technology of today.

Village Green, the developers of Randolph Tower are now nearing completion of the $146.6 million restoration of the newly named Randolph Tower City Apartments - a mixed-use residential development with more than 300 residential units.  This rehabilitated landmark will once again join the Chicago landscape as a vital, contributing structure to downtown Chicago.  Alderman Reilly applauds the development team not only for their skill but their diligence in seeing this project through to completion during a very challenging market.

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Upcoming Repairs to Lake Shore Drive at Michigan Avenue and Oak Street!

September 24, 2012

Beginning on October 1st, the Chicago Department of Transportation will begin much needed repairs to the deteriorated viaduct and retaining walls on the northbound Lake Shore Drive entrance ramp at Michigan Avenue and Oak Street.  

The repairs, expected to last until mid-November, are needed due to the continued deterioration of the viaduct deck and include: repair of the underside and top surface of the on-ramp viaduct, repairs to the concrete retaining walls in addition to miscellaneous electrical and lighting renovations.  The repairs will be the first significant rehabilitation work since the initial construction of the viaduct in 1963. 

For the duration of the project, the on-ramp will be closed to traffic and northbound vehicles will be rerouted along Inner Lake Shore Drive for one mile (to LaSalle Drive), where they will then be able to exit onto northbound Lake Shore Drive.  CDOT will adjust the traffic signals and will also deploy traffic control aides (TCA) to assist vehicles that travel along the detour route. 

Southbound vehicular traffic is not expected to be affected by the repairs, although motorists are to expect intermittent evening lane closures in either traffic direction on Lake Shore Drive as CDOT engineers work on the top side of the viaduct deck.  

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Chicago Launches New Open311 System to Improve Service Delivery

September 24, 2012


Residents now have a new Open311 service request system, which allows Chicagoans to track service requests from the time they are submitted and receive an email when the issue is resolved through a new 311 Service Tracker.   The system also allows residents to submit photos with service requests, encouraging more accurate and detailed reporting of issues to City departments.  Chicagoans can use the new tool by visiting www.cityofchicago.org/311.

The City's 311 call center receives an average of two million service calls annually, and nearly 40 percent of the most requested service calls into 311 are either duplicates or residents calling to check on the status of a request.

By allowing residents to check service requests online, the City can reduce redundancies and improve wait times for Chicagoans calling 311.  Chicago is the only city in the country to include a "Service Tracker" in its Open311 system. An informational video on the new technology can be seen here.

In the initial launch phase of Open311, 14 of the most requested service types are available for submissions, including graffiti; potholes; and non-functioning street lights.  Other service types will be added to the system later. The next phase of the Open311 program will also include an enhanced ChiTEXT tool, which will give Chicagoans the ability to submit and track service requests via smartphone text messaging. 

The Open311 technology was developed through a partnership between the City's Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and Code for America, and was funded in part by the Smart Chicago Collaborative.

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Chicago's First Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan

September 24, 2012

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Council (MPAC) recently released the Chicago Pedestrian Plan, the city's first-ever comprehensive plan that identifies infrastructure enhancements, policies and programs to increase safety, reduce pedestrian and vehicle conflicts, and make Chicago a healthier, more livable city.

The 114-page document contains 250 recommendations, goals and action items, with short-, mid- and long-term agendas.

It identifies specific infrastructure treatments - from improved crosswalks and signalization to traffic-calming devices like "road diets," chicanes and traffic circles. All of these improvements provide for safer intersections, corridors and neighborhood streets.

The plan identifies new citywide programs and policies to improve pedestrian safety through education, engineering and enforcement.   It also seeks ways to improve connectivity by identifying and eliminating gaps and barriers in the pedestrian network and establishing policies that prioritize pedestrian access.

The plan also recommends ways to make Chicago's streets more livable through increasing the amount, quality and activity within pedestrian space. It additionally identifies programs, policies, and strategies that will encourage a healthier Chicago by increasing the number and mode share of pedestrian trips for enjoyment, school, work, and daily errands.

The recommendations in the plan were formed with ideas and feedback from hundreds of Chicagoans who participated in seven community meetings across Chicago, where they shared their experiences as pedestrians and proposed ways of improving the walkability of our neighborhoods.

The MPAC guided the development of the plan. The council includes members representing a broad spectrum of backgrounds, from health care and enforcement to disability rights and community groups. It is focused on a wide range of pedestrian issues: safety, public awareness, enforcement, and infrastructure investment. The MPAC is co-chaired by Klein and Peter Skosey, Vice President, Metropolitan Planning Council.

Chicago experiences roughly 3,000 crashes annually between motor vehicles and pedestrians, resulting in an average of 50 deaths each year.   The Chicago Pedestrian Plan reaffirms CDOT's goals of reducing serious pedestrian injuries by 50 percent every five years and eliminating pedestrian fatalities within ten years.

Chicago Pedestrian Plan 

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Clark/Division CTA Station Renovation

September 24, 2012

http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs027/1102200958373/img/329.jpg

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently started a project to completely renovate the 70-year-old Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Clark/Division Red Line Station - the first major renovation since it opened during World War II. The station will remain open but the work requires the temporary closure of a portion of Division Street.

 

The Clark/Division renovation is one of several CTA capital improvement projects that are key elements of Building a New Chicago, a comprehensive $7.3 billion infrastructure renewal program put forward by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

 

The project, which has a construction budget of $41.1 million, will rebuild the original 1940's mezzanine and platform, and build a new mezzanine at LaSalle Street and Division.   Construction of the new 8,800-square-foot mezzanine at LaSalle will increase the entering/exiting capacity of the station by adding stairs, fare turnstiles, elevators and escalators.

 

Major highlights of the renovation project include:

  • Two new elevators and three new escalators
  • New granite floors and stairs
  • New decorative wall and ceiling tiles
  • Brighter and more energy-efficient lighting
  • New security equipment and customer-assistance kiosks
  • Improved communication and speaker systems
  • New cast iron street-level entrances
  • Bike ramps and racks to promote alternate modes of transportation

The new mezzanine at LaSalle will to open to CTA customers in September 2014.   The renovation will continue on the original portions of the station to mid-2015.  

 

LaSalle and Clark will remain open to all traffic throughout the construction project.  However, one half-block of Division, from LaSalle to the alley west of Clark Street, will be closed to traffic for approximately one year.  Division will partially reopen to traffic next fall with one eastbound lane for about nine months.  After Division fully reopens to traffic, the construction will continue underground for several additional months.

 

Pedestrian access will be maintained on one side of Division at all times during the construction period.   CDOT will closely monitor vehicular and pedestrian movement, while traffic aides will help to minimize the impact of construction.

 

As a result of the closure, nine (9) bus stop changes will be taking place beginning Monday, September 10th, impacting the following bus lines: #36, #70 and #22.   Please click on the following links to view a MAP of the bus reroutes associated with this closure.

 

Eastbound traffic on Division will be rerouted south on LaSalle to Chicago Avenue, east to Dearborn Street and back north to Division.  Westbound traffic on Division will be rerouted south on Clark to Chicago, west to LaSalle and back north to Division.

To learn more, please click on the following links: Project Flier 1 and Project Flier 2

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Alderman Reilly Introduces Ordinance to Upgrade Wrigley Building Plaza - Public-Private Agreement to Improve Prominent Public Space

September 12, 2012

WRIGLEY

Alderman Brendan Reilly today introduced an ordinance authorizing a plan to reconstruct and improve one of Chicago's most prominent public plazas along Michigan Avenue, at the base of the Wrigley Building. Alderman Reilly worked with Mayor Emanuel, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), BDT Capital Partners and Zeller Realty Group to secure an agreement to dramatically improve the highly visible public space adjacent to Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

The estimated cost of the improvement project is $2 million, which includes the removal and replacement of deteriorated concrete slabs and substantial repairs to the support framing of the plaza. A granite paver system and embedded lighting will be installed to upgrade the aesthetics of the public plaza. Once renovations are completed, the Wrigley Building owners will assume ongoing maintenance responsibilities for the Plaza for the next 50 years, at no cost to taxpayers. The City will retain sole permit authority for activities at Wrigley Plaza.

"Over the past three years, I have been working to identify creative ways to fund the renovation of our city's most prominent and highly visible public plazas in downtown Chicago's 42nd Ward," said Reilly. "Thanks to our working partnership with Mayor Emanuel, CDOT, and building ownership, the plaza that runs through the Wrigley Building will be greatly improved, at no cost to Chicago's taxpayers."

The Wrigley Plaza project is the third public-private partnership forged to improve public space along the Michigan Avenue corridor. In 2009, Alderman Reilly worked with CDOT to successfully negotiate the privately-funded renovation of the dilapidated and condemned, city-owned pedestrian bridge that joins Wabash Avenue and Michigan Avenue. Just months later, Reilly secured a $750,000 public-private agreement for the total reconstruction and on-going maintenance of the Plaza of the Americas, immediately north of the Wrigley Plaza.  

"We've enjoyed great success engaging private property owners to work with the City of Chicago to improve and enhance the safety, functionality and aesthetics of these highly-visible and well-used public plazas. I am grateful to the new owners of the Wrigley Building for making these much needed improvements to the Plaza as they work to restore the property to its original beauty and repurpose this Landmark as a successful mixed-use structure," Reilly said.

Earlier this year, Alderman Reilly strongly supported the designation of the Wrigley Building as a Chicago Landmark and worked with the BDT Capital Partners and Zeller Realty throughout the landmark designation process.  

"Like many Chicagoans, I always believed the Wrigley Building should be protected as an official Chicago Landmark," said Reilly. "The building is historically significant and is one of the most recognized buildings in our skyline. As the owners are investing in restoring and upgrading this beautiful building, it was only fitting that the public plaza be restored and refreshed as well."

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Alderman Reilly Negotiates Improvements to VA Lot in Streeterville

September 3, 2012

valot

Alderman Reilly recently met with representatives of Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) to discuss the commitment they made during the Chicago Plan Commission Hearing - promising some temporary improvements to the now vacant VA lot in Streeterville.

The Alderman's support for NMH's Outpatient Care Pavilion at 259 East Erie was, in part, contingent upon the institution making significant temporary improvements to the vacant VA lot. The condition of that site has been unacceptable for some time. NMH's last Plan Commission proceeding provided the Alderman with an opportunity to force a better condition at this highly-visible, important corner in Streeterville. Alderman Reilly is grateful to SOAR for their support while he negotiated these details with NMH.

Alderman Reilly is very pleased to report that his persistence has paid-off. The Alderman believes we have secured a solution that not only requires NMH to deliver on their promise to provide green space on the site, but will also provide some additional streetscape improvements.

NMH will provide a 15-foot setback on the east and west sides of the site - including new wrought iron fencing to secure the entire perimeter as well as new and improved lighting. The interior planting area will include prairie grasses and wild flowers encircled by a sodded perimeter just beyond the fencing. Per the Alderman's request, NMH will also widen and repair the sidewalks on both Fairbanks and McClurg Courts. Click on the following links to view the site plan and rendering.

Alderman Reilly is thankful for SOAR's partnership in securing an outcome that includes a true public benefit for the neighborhood. He is excited this lot will be dramatically improved - not only aesthetically - but also in terms of security with improved lighting, secured fencing and chamfered corners to eliminate pedestrian blind spots around corners of the lot.

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North Lake Shore Drive Resurfacing Project Begins This Week

September 3, 2012

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will oversee the resurfacing of portions of North Lake Shore Drive, scheduled to begin on the morning of Wednesday, September 5th and completed by the first week of November.

Sections of Lake Shore Drive from Sheridan Road to Foster Avenue and Belmont Avenue to North Avenue will be resurfaced.  All four lanes in each direction will be improved - a total of 2.75 miles of roadway.

Work will largely be performed during off-peak hours in order to minimize traffic impacts, but drivers should expect some delays as the work that will be occurring at various times, both day and night. However, at least two travel lanes will be open at all times in both directions at all times and there will be no lane obstructions during rush hour peaks - neither in the southbound direction between 6am - 10am nor in the northbound direction between 3pm -7pm.

These sections of LSD resurfacing will cost about $3.8 million in total, funded by the State of Illinois and Federal Highway Administration.

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Dearborn-Division Newsstand Removal

September 3, 2012

Alderman Reilly is very pleased to announce that last week, engineers from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) removed the vacant newsstand formerly located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Dearborn and Division Streets. The removal of this vacated newsstand frees up significant room on the public right of way for greater pedestrian usage on this frequently traveled intersection.

As many neighborhood residents know, the newsstand had been vacant since January 2012, as the vendor had ceased operating out of the newsstand and declined to renew the business license. Given that the stand was not in use, and that no additional vendors had been identified to operate the newsstand on a full-time basis, Alderman Reilly requested that CDOT begin the process of removing the newsstand in early August.

Once CDOT had cleared all the requisite hurdles to ensure the prompt removal of the newsstand was feasible, a work order was commissioned to Commonwealth Edison to sever the electrical ties to the stand. Upon Commonwealth Edison's action to remove the power, a maintenance team was dispatched and the newsstand was promptly removed from the intersection.

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Upcoming Residential Street Light Improvements to East Lake Shore Drive!

August 27, 2012

Beginning September 3rd, 2012, the City of Chicago's Division of Electrical Operations will begin work on a new residential lighting program on East Lake Shore Drive, between Michigan Avenue and North Lake Shore Drive.

 

The project, expected to last until late November, will remove the existing light poles and replace them with newer, more energy-efficient lighting that will enhance the amount of "on-street" lighting on this block. 

The preliminary portions of the project will require the Division of Electrical Operations to begin installation of new underground wiring required for these lights.  Upon the completion of the new wiring, expected to last until mid-November, the old residential street lighting will be replaced with the new models. 

As part of the project, the Department of Transportation will require a lane closure to facilitate the construction; however, there will be no full street closures as part of the work. 

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New Bike Lanes in Chicago!

August 27, 2012

The city plans to build more than 30 miles of new bicycle lanes in neighborhoods across Chicago this year, as part of a planned 650-mile network of biking facilities expected to be in place by 2020 to provide a bicycle accommodation within half-mile of every Chicagoan.  

Chicago's Streets for Cycling Plan 2020, to be released later this month, sets forth a strategy to achieve Mayor Emanuel's goal of making Chicago the best big city for bicycling in America.  The Plan, developed through a community process, identifies a bike network of on-street bikeways that will allow all Chicagoans to feel more safe and comfortable riding on city streets.

By the end of this year, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) will install 34 miles of new bike facilities, including:

  • A two-way north-south protected bike route through the Loop on Dearborn Street from Polk Street to Kinzie Street.  The City will also extend the Kinzie bike route east to meet up with this new route.  The Dearborn bikeway will separate bicyclists from high-speed traffic and include bicycle signals to separate bicycle and motor vehicle conflicts.
  • The City's first "Neighborhood Greenway" to begin construction later this summer on Berteau Avenue, connecting the bike routes on Lincoln Avenue and Clark Street.
  • The start of the Milwaukee Avenue "spoke route," which will provide a safe and comfortable bikeway connection between the popular Kinzie and Elston protected bike lanes. 
  • New buffered bike lanes as part of a "road diet" on South Chicago Avenue that will increase safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.  The improvement will work to reduce crashes along South Chicago Avenue, which is consistently ranked as one of the city's highest crash corridors.
  • Newly installed protected and buffered bike routes on parts of: Wabash Avenue; Halsted Street, Jackson Boulevard, 55th Street, 31st Street, Clark Street, Martin Luther King Drive and the West Side Boulevards. 

The Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 identifies three kinds of bicycle routes that will form the network:

  • 310 miles of Neighborhood Routes: Neighborhood Routes are quiet, mostly residential streets that connect to local destinations such as neighborhood retail, schools, parks and transit.  Many of the streets identified as Neighborhood Routes are already low stress bike routes.      
  • 275 miles of Crosstown Bike Routes:  Crosstown Bike Routes are long, continuous routes that get bicyclists across Chicago. These routes are mostly located on commercial streets and connect neighborhoods, major destinations and Neighborhood Routes. The majority of Chicago's protected and buffered bike lanes will be located on Crosstown Bike Routes.     
  • 60 miles of Spoke Routes:  Spoke Routes are direct routes in and out of the Loop that provide safe, continuous bikeways connecting all areas of Chicago with the downtown.  The primary goal of the Spoke Routes is to increase commuting by bicycle citywide. 

The Plan's network was developed using three key principles: provide a bicycle accommodation within half-mile of every Chicagoan; provide more bikeways where more people live; and build more infrastructure where ridership is high, while establishing a strong backbone of infrastructure where ridership is currently lower.

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Vaccinations for Children Protect Against Disease - New Statewide Whooping Cough Vaccine Requirement 

August 13, 2012

The Chicago Department of Public Health is joining with other State of Illinois health officials to raise awareness about the importance of getting children vaccinated in order to prevent deadly diseases.

While most vaccine-preventable diseases have become rare, some outbreaks still occur. In Illinois, over 1,500 cases of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) were reported in 2011, with the majority of cases in children under 18 years of age. The number of whooping cough cases in 2011 increased by more than 40 percent from 2010. As of August 2012, Illinois has already recorded over 1,200 cases. Currently, Illinois ranks 5th nationally with four states having more whooping cough cases than Illinois. These states include Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota, and New York.

With school around the corner, health officials are stressing the importance of parents checking with their children's doctor to make sure their children are up to date with all of their shots.  Whooping cough is on the rise, making it especially important that every child is vaccinated against it. Most children are vaccinated against whooping cough before entering kindergarten. However, a booster dose (Tdap) is necessary because protection from the pre-school vaccines decreases over time.

To reduce the number of whooping cough cases, children 11 years and older and unvaccinated adults should get this booster as soon as possible. Whooping cough is easily transmitted in schools. This year the State of Illinois has a new requirement for sixth and ninth grade students to show proof of having received a single dose of Tdap.

Parents should discuss Tdap and all recommended vaccines with their healthcare providers when taking their children for their back-to-school physicals. For vaccination schedules, visit the CDC's web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html

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New Mobile Food Truck Ordinance

July 30, 2012

Last week the City Council passed an ordinance to expand the food truck industry in Chicago.  Operators will now be permitted to prepare "food to order" on board their trucks and have the opportunity to park in newly created "food truck stands" designed for highly congested areas in addition to any legal metered space that is 200 feet from a retail food establishment.

Currently, food truck operators are limited to selling pre-packaged food (assembled in a health-inspected commercial kitchen) and stage in a (paid) metered space that is 200 feet from a retail food establishment.  The new law will further encourage this creative industry that spurs small business development and a diverse, vibrant cultural scene across the city.

The ordinance is a practical compromise resulting from months of conversations with restaurateurs, the food truck industry, the public and local aldermen.  Input from these stakeholders and a study of best practices from other major cities helped to create smart and workable requirements for food trucks by providing additional selling locations and expanded operations.  The ordinance also protects the public by setting health standards, linking food truck operator requirements with existing city code.

The ordinance legalizes expanded food truck operations and includes:

  • "Food to Order": Food truck operators will now be allowed to provide "food to order" for their customers, or fresh meals prepared directly on board a truck.
  • "Food Truck Stands" Across the City: In addition to the legal parking spaces food trucks currently use, food trucks will now be allowed to park at designated Food Truck Stands across the city. These locations will be selected through an open and collaborative process in each ward by aldermen, the business community and residents. Similar to a traditional loading zone, these dedicated locations will help food truck operators to park safely, especially in high-congestion areas where parking is scarce and successful pedestrian circulation is key.
  • Increased Hours of Operation: Food trucks may operate from 5am-2am, 7-days a week. Each food truck will be able to park at one food stand or other legal parking spot for up to 2 hours.
  • Regular Health Inspections and Trainings: Food trucks must adhere to the highest health standards, the same standards as traditional restaurants, and will undergo regular inspections through the Chicago Department of Public Health. At least one employee trained and certified in food sanitation, must be present on the truck at all times.
  • GPS Data: Data on food truck locations will be available online to the public. Food truck operators will be required to use mounted GPS devices in each truck so that the City and consumers can follow their locations. 

Alderman Reilly co-sponsored this ordinance with Mayor Emanuel and his colleagues Aldermen Tom Tunney, Joe Moreno, Scott Waguespack, Emma Mitts, Michele Smith and Walter Burnett, Jr. 

To download a copy of the ordinance, please click here.

Recent Press:

Chicago Sun Times

Chicago Tribune

CBS 2 Chicago

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Alderman Reilly Promotes Bike Safety in the 42nd Ward with Annual Share the Road Campaign!

July 30, 2012


Alderman Reilly has once again partnered with the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT)'s Bicycling Ambassadors this summer to improve bike safety. With more cyclists on the road than ever, Chicago is showing its commitment to the safety of all road users by upholding traffic laws through the Share the Road Campaign.

Earlier this month, the Bike Ambassadors canvassed Michigan Avenue from Wacker to Jackson, to alert cyclists that riding on the sidewalk is prohibited.  They were positioned at Lake and LaSalle, and at Randolph and the Lakefront trail for general enforcement and bike light distribution.  Bike Ambassadors were also at the intersection of Kinzie and Kingsbury to encourage bicyclists to stop for pedestrians (photos below).

shareroad2


shareroad1

Share the Road enforcement efforts are also planned for August:

  • Monday, August 6 from 1:30pm-3:30pm
    General enforcement at Lake and LaSalle
  • Thursday, August 23 from 3:30pm-5:30pm
    General enforcement/ Cyclists running red at Kinzie and Wells
  • Friday, August 24 from 7:30am-9:30am
    Cyclists stopping for pedestrians at Kinzie/Kingsbury
  • Tuesday, August 28 from 7:30am-9:30am
    Cyclists stopping for pedestrians at Kinzie/Kingsbury

The Bicycling Ambassadors are a team of bicycle safety and education specialists who have been encouraging Chicagoans to ride their bikes more often and safely since 2001. The Ambassadors appear at hundreds of events each year, providing information and education to children, teens and adults.


For more info about the Ambassadors, visit: 

www.bicyclingambassadors.org.

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Filing A Complaint - Who Do I Call? 

July 30, 2012

Many consumers are victims of scams.  Whether they are victims of identity theft, phishing scams, fraudulent business practices or other consumer crises, the question is always, "Who do I call to file a complaint?" There are many great resources available to help resolve issues and protect consumers:

Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection 

(BACP) - BACP protects consumers from fraud by resolving complaints and taking action against fraudulent businesses, including suspending or revoking the license to operate. BACP promotes consumer awareness through education and information to help consumers protect themselves.  Call 311 to file complaint or click here.

Federal Trade Commission

(FTC) - The Federal Trade Commission is the nation's consumer protection agency. The FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection works for the consumer to prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practices in the marketplace.  The Federal Trade Commission collects complaints about companies, business practices, identity theft, and episodes of violence in the media.   Click here to file a complaint.  Click here for contact information.  

Better Business Bureau 

(BBB) - BBB is the resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses. Their network of national and local BBB operations allows them to monitor and take action on thousands of business issues affecting consumers at any given time.  The BBB handles disagreements between businesses and their customers.   Click here to file a complaint.   

 Illinois Attorney General's Office 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan's Consumer Protection Division protects Illinois consumers and businesses victimized by fraud, deception, and unfair business practices.  Law enforcement actions are taken by the Attorney General to protect the public good and ensure a fair market-place.   Click here to file a complaint or click here for contact information.   

Illinois Commerce Commission 

The Consumer Services Division (CSD) of the Illinois Commerce Commission responds to inquiries from customers served by the public utilities under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Commerce Commission and investigates informal complaints against public utility companies. Click here to file a complaint or here for contact information.   

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations

The Department's mission is to protect and promote the lives of Illinois consumers. IDFPR licenses over one million professionals in nearly 100 industries, including banks, barbers, architects, veterinarians, doctors, and more. For a complete listing of the professions they regulate. File a complaint with IDFPR if you have experienced or know about mistreatment by a person or business that the Department regulates.  Click here to file a complaint.  

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Emergency Identification Bracelets Available from Chicago Police Department  

July 30, 2012

The Chicago Police Department is encouraging seniors aged 60 and older, and people with disabilities of any age to obtain an Emergency Identification Bracelet.

The bracelet is FREE of charge, and the emergency information provided will be kept on file at the local police station of the district in which you reside, under a confidential code number. The number is inscribed inside the emergency ID bracelet along with the 24 hour telephone number of the station. If the wearer is subsequently injured or incapacitated, the confidential information on file will be available for authorities through one telephone call. This will insure prompt and appropriate care, and in case of an emergency, proper notification will be made to whoever is designated.

Please click here to download the Emergency Identification Bracelet application. This form will need to be submitted to your local police station:

1st District: 1718 S. State St., 312-745-4381
13th District: 937 N. Wood St., 312-746-8355
18th District: 1160 N. Larrabee Ave., 312-742-5778

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Wells Bike Lane Improvement Updates

July 23, 2012

During the final week in June, the City of Chicago's Department of Transportation (CDOT) completed the installation of the "buffered" bike lane on Wells Street, between Chicago Avenue and the Merchandise Mart.

The new buffered bike lane will provide cyclists with a wider bike lane in which to operate as well as moving them further away from parked cars and moving motor vehicles in order to reduce the likelihood of "dooring" related incidents and other bike related crashes.

A buffered bike lane consists of the application of wider coatings of paint on the street surface, and does not include the installation of bollards or any other "physical" barrier along the route of the bike lane, nor does it include the installation of colored pavement markings. Please see the below photograph for a visual of the recently installed buffered bike lane:

wells

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Upcoming Clark Street Bike Lane Improvements!

July 23, 2012

In the coming weeks, the City of Chicago's Department of Transportation (CDOT) will begin the installation of a "buffered" bike lane on Clark Street, between Oak Street and North Avenue. The new buffered bike lane will provide cyclists with a wider bike lane in which to operate as well as moving them further away from parked cars and moving motor vehicles in order to reduce the likelihood of "dooring" related incidents and other bike related crashes.

To install the buffered bike lane, the width of the motor vehicle lanes will be reduced to 10' each; however, CDOT will not be removing any travel lanes. All existing parking, loading, standing and valet zones will remain as well. The reduction of traffic lanes to 10' in width is also expected to enhance pedestrian safety as the reduced dimension will reduce the speed in which motor vehicles travel.

A buffered bike lane consists of the application of wider coatings of paint on the street surface, and does not include the installation of bollards or any other "physical" barrier along the route of the bike lane, nor does it include the installation of colored pavement markings.

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ComEd Urges Customers to be Aware of Utility Scams Activity typically increases after major storms and natural disasters

July 23, 2012

ComEd is warning customers to be on the alert for scam artists who increase their activity after major storms and other natural disasters. Following the recent storm that knocked out power to more than 300,000 customers, ComEd experienced an increase in calls about two current scams that could cost customers money and valuable personal information.

  • Individuals professing to be from utility companies are claiming that there are federal programs that will pay electric bills. People are being asked to provide their social security numbers in exchange for fake bank routing numbers that can be used to make payments.
  • Individuals claiming to be from utility companies are telling customers that they need to make an immediate payment or their service will be disconnected. They ask the customer to purchase a gift credit card and call back with the card information to make the payment.

Scammers may call or come to your home. Representatives from ComEd always carry proper identification and never ask customers for cash or personal financial information. Customers can verify if a ComEd worker is in the area or whether a caller is an employee by calling 1-800-EDISON1.

Customers can avoid being scammed by taking a few precautions:

  • Never provide your social security or personal information to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be a ComEd representative or requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than ComEd.
  • Always ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any utility worker into your home or business.
  • Be skeptical of individuals wearing clothing with old or defaced company logos. If you have any doubts, ask to see a company photo ID. If you are at all concerned or suspicious that the individual may not be from ComEd, call 1-800-EDISON1.
  • Never make payment for services to anyone coming to your door

Customers approached for this kind of personal information, or who believe they may be a victim of a scam, should report the incident to their local police.

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Segway Ordinance Introduced by Alderman Reilly

July 2, 2012

At the June 27th City Council meeting, Alderman Reilly introduced an ordinance prohibiting the use of segways on the Lakefront Trail. This draft ordinance is intended to begin an important discussion with city agencies on how segways should be categorized in the code, the types of regulations to be codified for the industry and the role of segways for personal transportation use versus tourist attraction. To view a copy of the draft ordinance, click here.

After receiving numerous complaints from constituents and business stakeholders downtown related to segway collisions or near-misses with pedestrians, bicycles, baby strollers and even cars, Alderman Reilly conducted some research. He found that there are no standards, guidelines or rules to direct segways users and protect pedestrians.

Currently segway companies are licensed by the City of Chicago through the limited business license (LBL), the most generic, catch-all category. A LBL is required for businesses in the city engaged in general sales, that provide a service, engage in office operations or businesses that do not fall under another license category and are not exempt from City licenses.  Alderman Reilly was concerned that no other mention of the segway industry appears in the code, with no further specific code section governing segway mobility devices.  

The Alderman's concern grew once he learned that, although the city Department of Business and Consumer Protection (DBACP) licenses these companies, it is the Park District who issues concessionaire permits and puts forth the only rules for operation of segways which consist of:

  • Segways can drive only on paved paths, and not on the grass in Chicago Parks
  • Segways are not allowed to go over 10 miles per hour in Chicago Parks
  • Segways must yield to pedestrian traffic and cannot block pedestrian traffic in Chicago Parks

Unfortunately, not one of those guidelines address the safety issue of segway riders who do not know how to operate a segway, trying to navigate our very crowded public-right-of-way downtown. Alderman Reilly looks forward to working with the segway industry and the city departments to formulate a series of guidelines to protect those riding the segways and those of us around them.

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City of Chicago Launches New Restaurant Start-Up Program

July 2, 2012

To simplify and streamline the process for opening a restaurant, the City of Chicago recently launched the Restaurant Start-Up Program.  The City will now act a partner to assist entrepreneurs by making the start-up process easier by reducing inspection visits and wait times through a team-based approach, helping restaurants pass their inspections and increasing inspection transparency.  These steps will make it easier for business owners to focus on attracting customers and hiring workers.

Visit www.cityofchicago.org/restaurant to learn more about this new program.  The website also features comprehensive Start-Up Guides, links to all the necessary forms needed, and a list of community partners and city agencies that can help.  For more information, please call the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection's Business Center Hotline at 312-74-GOBIZ, or email restaurant@cityofchicago.org

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Downtown Public Safety Update

June 25, 2012

Many downtown stakeholders have contacted Alderman Reilly's office with concerns about the recent occurrences of violence in the ward.  The Alderman is very proud of the police personnel assigned to downtown Chicago, appreciating their long hours and watchful eye kept on our city's economic engine and its residential population.  The Police Department continues to do an excellent job with their limited resources, prioritizing personnel to keep everyone safe.

Last briefing, Alderman Reilly was informed that additional patrols have been assigned to the downtown area on establishing a more visible police presence.  That said, the Alderman continues to petition the Police Superintendent to make our city center a priority for additional resources so that it is safe for residents, businesses and tourists.  It is our hope that the Superintendent can provide bicycle and foot patrols, when possible, signaling with a greater uniformed presence, that criminal behavior will not be tolerated.

Residents should also be aware that the Police have engaged sister agencies such as the CTA, CPS and OEMC to increase public safety and forge more creative strategies.  CTA has agreed to increase the level of security and service on their bus and rail lines which serve downtown.  Those traveling to and from the downtown area should have a safer, more comfortable trip without overcrowding and long wait times.

Although Alderman Reilly is in daily contact with area police, he does not decide resource allocation.  We ask that you continue to call 911 when you are witnessing a public safety issue, regardless of whether the situation is an emergency.  The Police Department logs every 911 call and that log is an important tool for the Police Superintendent to decide how to allocate resources.  Please make 911 your first call with a follow-up to our office should you want to alert the Alderman of a concern.

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Safety Reminders from the Chicago Police Department

June 25, 2012

Personal Safety Tips

You're often told not to be a victim of crime, but you may wonder how to ensure that. While no one can guarantee total safety, you can lessen the chance of being a victim by making it more difficult for a would-be thief or attacker. The Chicago Police Department offers the following personal safety tips.

At Home: Don't be Surprised -

Keep your doors locked when home alone and lock your windows when leaving the house for any long period of time. Turn your porch lights on at night and illuminate your backyard to ensure that anyone lurking there will be easily detected

On the Street: Be Alert -

Make sure you are not an easy target for crime on the street. Carry your purse in a manner that makes it hard to get - across your chest or under your arm where more than a simple grab is needed to snatch it. Men should carry their wallets in their inside coats or side pants pocket, never in your back pants pocket where it is easy to grab. If you walk to and from work or public transit stations, particularly at night, use well-lit and populated streets. When possible, walk with friends, and if you can, vary the route you take each day or night.

On Public Transit: Be prepared -

Have the exact fare ready before you leave home so that there is no need to open a purse or wallet. During late night or early morning stay near the agent on duty in subways and when possible sit on the aisle seat where you will have more mobility should trouble occur.

In Your Car: Secure Your Ride -

Lock your doors and be sure to store your purse, wallet or other valuables beneath your seat - not on the seat next to you where they are easy and inviting targets for theft. Park in a well lit area for the safety of your car and yourself and always lock your car. If you notice the street lights are out, call 311 or your Police District's Community Policing office to make sure this "condition for crime" is remedied.

Going Home: Be Ready -

Always carry your keys in your hand so that you are ready to open the door.   If you know you will be coming home after dark, make sure you leave some lights on.

Finally, Wherever You Are -

Remember - a crime-free city requires that everyone report suspicious activity by calling 911 and reporting conditions that make crime possible by calling 311.

How to Describe a Suspect -

To capture a criminal in these highly mobile times, it is of utmost importance for the police to promptly obtain an accurate description. Following are some of the most important identifiers the police need to apprehend criminal suspects. Keep this information in mind so that you can give the police an accurate description of any criminal or criminal incident you may observe. 

Location information is critical:  

    • Observe where you are and the exact location of the crime. Try to remember if you have ever seen the suspect in the area before.  
    • Note the time as precisely as possible.  
    • Observe if the suspect is carrying a weapon and, if so, what type-revolver, handgun, shotgun, knife, etc.  
    • If the suspect leaves the scene, note the direction of flight.  
    • If the suspect is in a vehicle, note as much of the following information as possible: vehicle type (auto, truck, van, etc.); color; make and model; condition (dirty, damaged, etc.); and license plate numbers.  
    • Note also if the vehicle has no license plates or a "license applied for" sticker in the rear windshield.  
    • Watch for decoys or accomplices.  

A variety of general description information about the suspect should be noted:  

    • Sex  
    • Race or national origin  
    • Age (estimated)  
    • Height-use comparisons with your own height, a door, or some other standard measure  
    • Weight (estimated)  
    • Build-fat, husky, slim, muscular, etc. 

Facial information is also important:  

    • Hair - note the color, texture, hairline, style; also possible dyes or wigs  
    • Forehead - note forehead height, and whether the skin is smooth, creased or wrinkled  
    • Eyes - note the color, shape (round, slanted), whether clear or bloodshot, and the heaviness of eyelashes and eyebrows  
    • Nose - overall shape (long, wide, flat, etc.) and nostrils (wide, narrow, flared) are important  
    • Cheeks - is the flesh sunken, filled out, dried or oily? are there wrinkles around nose or mouth? are cheek bones high or low, wide or narrow?  
    • Ears - note size and prominence (protruding or flat against head)  
    • Mouth - are lips thin, medium, full? do corners turn up, turn down, or level?  
    • Chin - what is the shape (round, oval, pointed, square)? double chin, dimpled, cleft?  
    • Neck - note protruding Adam's apple or hanging jowls
    • Complexion - note pores, pockmarks, acne, razor rash, bumps  
    • Facial hair - clean shaven? unshaven? beard, mustache, goatee, sideburns?  
    • Tattoos - shape and style; on what part of the body  

Clothing information is also very important:  

    • Hat - note color, style, ornaments, how it is worn (bill forward, backward, to one side)  
    • Coat - note color and style (suit coat, jacket, topcoat, overcoat) 
    • Shirt/Blouse/Dress - note color, design, sleeves, collar
    • Trousers/Slacks/Skirt - note color, style, cuffs  
    • Socks - note color, pattern, length  
    • Shoes - note color, style, brand name for sneakers (if possible), condition  
    • Accessories - sweater, scarf, gloves, necktie  
    • Jewelry - rings, watches, bracelets, necklaces  
    • General appearance - neat or sloppy? clean or dirty?  
    • Oddities - look for clothing too large or too small; odd colors; patchwork  

Look for other physical features or peculiarities:  

    • Voice - pitch, tone, rasp, lisp  
    • Speech - articulate, uneducated, accent, use of slang  
    • Gait - slow, fast, limp  

You will never be able to remember all of these details about any one suspect you may see. But remembering as many as possible can be particularly helpful to the police and to your community.

More information is available on the Chicago Police website, www.chicagopolice.org. You may also click on the following links to download the flyer: Personal Safety Tips and How to Describe a Suspect.

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Navy Pier Flyover Project Schedule

June 11, 2012

In July, 2010, Alderman Reilly co-hosted community presentation with the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to share plans for the Navy Pier Flyover: an improvement to the Lakefront Path bike trail which calls for a dedicated grade-separated Trail section.

Currently, the Lakefront Trail runs along the Lake Shore Drive Bridge sidewalk and street-designated paths around Navy Pier, crossing both Grand and Illinois Streets.

The Navy Pier Flyover is designed to meet the consistent demand of bicyclists, joggers, in-line skaters and other recreational users, in one of the most heavily traveled sections of the Lakefront Trail.

This project is scheduled to be built in three segments.


Phase 1: The new structure between the Ogden Slip and Jane Addams Park.

  • The proposed bike path from the north side of Ogden slip to Jane Addams Park, including the ramp to Navy Pier is currently in final IDOT and CDOT Contracts review. CDOT anticipates going out to bid this fall and starting construction in spring 2013 with duration of 2 years.

Phase 2: The proposed bike path from the north end of the Chicago River Bridge to the north side of Ogden Slip through DuSable Park.

  • In order to accommodate the changes made to the site by the Spire development, including new LSD ramps, a Phase 1 amendment to the approved PDR is currently in process.
  • CDOT is working very closely with the Park District on this effort and the entire project. They anticipate going out to bid on Phase 2 in the fall of 2013 and starting construction in 2014 with duration of 2 years. This will facilitate overlapping construction schedules for Phases 1 and 2, so they don't have a completed segment that does not connect to the rest of the trail.

Phase 3: The Chicago River Bridge retrofit, which is currently in Phase 1, anticipates starting construction in 2014.


To learn more about the Navy Pier Flyover, please visit CDOT's website.

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Welcome Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago!

June 4, 2012

After 130 years of treating the most critically ill children in Chicago and beyond, Children's Memorial Hospital is moving to a new state-of-the-art facility at 225 E. Chicago Avenue, enabling them to provide better, more efficient care to every child in need.  The location of the new hospital, just west of Prentice Women's Hospital on the downtown campus of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, will increase clinical, academic and research opportunities that will lead to world-class care for children.   

The new hospital will be named the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, or Lurie Children's for short, in recognition of a $100 million gift from Chicago philanthropist and former Children's Memorial nurse Ann Lurie.  Alderman Reilly is pleased to welcome their new facility to downtown Chicago!

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New Ronald McDonald House in the 42nd Ward!

June 4, 2012

After 14 months of construction, Alderman Reilly is happy to welcome the new Ronald McDonald House® near Lurie Children's Hospital to the Streeterville neighborhood.  The new House at 211 East Grand will provide care and comfort to the families of children seeking care at the new Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

To celebrate the opening of this world's largest Ronald McDonald House, the neighborhood is invited to the "Ronald McDonald Family Fun Walk and Open House" on June 23rd.  Supporters of the House will meet at the original Ronald McDonald House at 622 West Deming in Lincoln Park at 9:00 and walk a 4 mile route to the new House at 211 East Grand.  An Open House will follow at 11:00 with fun planned for the whole family.  Tours of the will be given, refreshments served and the kids will be entertained on the rooftop garden.

If you have questions about this event, or would like to reserve your spot to attend the Walk, Open House, or both, please email Ali Turner at aturner@rmhccni.org.

The new Ronald McDonald House will open for the families who need it on June 26th, offering many opportunities for volunteer.  If you may be interested, please plan a visit to the House and see how you might become involved in this wonderful addition to Streeterville.  To find out more about Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana and the new Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children's Hospital at RonaldHouseChicago.org.

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Sign up now to participate in the 2012 Taste of River North!

June 4, 2012

Hosted by the River North Residents' Association (RNRA), the Taste of River North returns July 20-22, 2012 to Montgomery Ward Park, at the intersection of Erie and Kingsbury Streets. This professionally managed, family-friendly, riverfront festival features great live entertainment and showcases the area's wonderful dining, art and design scenes. The annual fest gives discerning palates, music fans and casual art lovers a gratifying taste of the best of everything the trendy River North neighborhood has to offer, all in a picturesque riverfront setting.

Space is limited, but RNRA is looking for food vendors, merchants, artisans, exhibitors and  volunteers to participate in this neighborhood festival. For more information, please visit the RNRA website.

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2012 Business Plan Competition

June 4, 2012

The Chicago City Treasurer's Office is proud to announce the launch of the annual Business Plan Competition. The competition is open to start-up and existing small businesses throughout the city, and gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to win their share of $10,000 in cash prizes and mentoring services critical to running a successful business.  

To compete for a chance to win cash for your small business, submit your two-page executive summary detailing your business and what makes it unique.  Executive summary templates can be found at www.jvschicago.org/duman or plan to attend a Business Plan Worship to get started.


For more information about the Business Plan Competition, visit Treasurer Stephanie Neeley's website, call 312-673-3429 or email businessplans@cityofchicago.org.  The application deadline is July 6, 2012.

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Pay Less for Energy through the Clean Air CountsEnergy Savings Program

June 4, 2012

The Clean Air Counts Energy Savings Program can save you up to $200 over sixteen months and reduce pollution. 

The Energy Savings Program (ESP) allows you to pay less for you energy guaranteed through 2013 by providing energy at a lower cost.  The only difference is that your ComEd bill will state that the energy is supplied by Integrys and the amount you pay will be significantly lower.

In addition to paying less, all households and small businesses will be eligible to receive 4 CFL light bulbs, which use 25% less energy than 60 watt bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer.  If installed, the CFLs can save you $40 this year!

Sign up now at www.integrysenergy.com/ESP-chicago to reduce your energy costs and visit www.energysavingprogram.net to learn more.

Clean Air Counts is a six-county Chicago regional initiative of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, US EPA - Region V, Illinois EPA and City of Chicago.  It seeks significant reductions in smog-forming pollutants and energy consumption.  For more information, please visit www.cleanaircounts.org.

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City Vehicle Sticker and Residential Permit Parking Reminders

May 29, 2012

It's time to buy your 2012-2013 Chicago Vehicle Sticker! The 2011-2012 vehicle sticker expires on June 30, 2012.

The City Clerk's Office provides a 15-day grace period before vehicle sticker enforcement begins on July 16th.

Stickers are now available for purchase on the Chicago City Clerk's website and at various neighborhood locations

The 2012-2013 vehicle sticker features residential zone information on the annual vehicle sticker. Residential parking permit (RPP) zones limit parking to residents and their guests during specified hours. This program helps to ensure that residents of densely populated areas have reasonable access to parking near their residences.  Vehicles parked in an RPP zone must display an RPP annual permit or daily pass on their windshield or they may be ticketed.  In addition, residents parking in an RPP Zone must adhere to any other parking regulations or restrictions on the street - including, but not limited to paying meters, adhering to rush hour or tow zone regulations, and street cleaning parking restrictions.  It is the driver's responsibility to read and comply with all the posted parking restriction signs.

Residents can check to see if their address falls in a residential parking zone by clicking here

A city vehicle sticker is not required to purchase daily guest passes. Daily passes are for guests of a RPP zone resident. The pass is valid for no more than 24 hours from the time written on the permit. All other traffic restrictions must be followed while displaying a permit. By ordinance, an RPP zone resident can purchase up to 30 daily passes every 30 days.

A city vehicle sticker is not required to purchase daily guest passes. Daily passes are for guests of a RPP zone resident. The pass is valid for no more than 24 hours from the time written on the permit. All other traffic restrictions must be followed while displaying a permit. By ordinance, an RPP zone resident can purchase up to 30 daily passes every 30 days.

If a resident is buying 24 hour daily guest passes online for the first time this year, they must do so in conjunction with the purchase of a city vehicle sticker. The first time a resident wants to buy only guest passes without also purchasing a vehicle sticker, they must do so in person. After the initial in-person purchase the resident will be able to buy the guest passes online with or without an annual vehicle sticker purchase.

Please be advised that residents will need to bring a photo id with their current address or proof of residency (mortgage or lease, water, gas, light, satellite or cable television or land line phone bill), in order to purchase the annual residential permit parking sticker or daily guest passes.

Please visit the City Clerk's website for additional information on vehicle stickers and residential passes, or call them directly at 312-744-6774.

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New Business License Reform Ordinance Passes!

May 15, 2012

Last week the City Council passed the Business License Reform Ordinance, which dramatically reduces the number of Chicago license types to encourage small business growth and job creation. Alderman Reilly has been working with Alderman Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, on a draft of this legislation for the past 4 years and appreciates Mayor Rahm Emanuel's commitment to reform that promotes a healthy economy.  Please click here to view the legislation. 

The new ordinance will make Chicago's business licensing simpler, smarter and more streamlined by reducing the number of license types by 60 percent. Compared to other cities like Washington DC, New York, Charlotte and Philadelphia, Chicago had the most license categories at 117.  With the new reform, Chicago will now have 49 license categories - the least in this group. Philadelphia passed a similar rule in 2009 to by consolidating and eliminating several license types; they went from having 148 to just 50.

By cutting the number of license categories and requiring businesses to obtain fewer licenses to get up and running, the reform will save over 10,000 small businesses $2 million in license fees each year, which they will be able to reinvest in their communities to create jobs.

Under Chicago's current licensing system, thousands of business owners pay for licenses they either do not need or should not have to get. For example, restaurants that sell cookbooks, shirts and coffee mugs needed a separate license for retail sales. Pet shops needed as many as four licenses: to sell pets, another to groom them, another to provide veterinary care or dog training, and a fourth license to sell pet supplies.

The ordinance will also help the city enforce in a smarter way - by spending less time fining for licensing code violations that pose little risk to public safety - and focusing on problem businesses. Fewer license types will mean inspectors can concentrate its enforcement on bad actors, instead of businesses confused by Chicago's outdated license requirements. The ordinance will also increase fines by 5 times on businesses that engage in consumer fraud, deceptive practice and unfair competition. It doubles fines on businesses that sell tobacco to minors and pawnbrokers or secondhand dealers who sell stolen goods.

Click on the following links to view the Mayor's press release, benefits and highlights and business license reform list

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Three New 42nd Ward Landmarks Established!

May 15, 2012

Alderman Reilly would like to introduce you to our three newest landmarks! Last week at City Council, three structures in the 42nd Ward were granted Chicago landmark status via final Council vote: 227 E. Walton Place Apartments, the iconic Wrigley Building at 400-410 N. Michigan Avenue, and the Motor Club Building at 68 E. Wacker Drive, an Art Deco gem.

227 East Walton Place Apartment Building

The thirteen-story, 24-unit, 227 East Walton Place Apartments is a significant post-World War II structure by noteworthy Chicago architect, Harry Weese. Harry Weese was one of Chicago's most eclectic and innovative architects of the Modern American architectural movement. 227 E. Walton Place incorporates features inspired by historic Chicago School buildings; the most distinctive being the projecting three-sided bay windows. The modernist design with references to past architecture was highly unusual and innovative in the context of 1950s-era Chicago high-rise architecture.

Harry Weese was one of the most significant architects working in Chicago from the early 1950s through the 1990s. He demonstrated his skill as a modern architect, urban planner and preservation architect through local, nationwide and international commissions. He questioned the primacy of the International Style modernism being championed in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his followers. Weese fought for modern architecture that would be more humane and responsive to historic architectural traditions and urban context. 227 East Walton Place exemplifies Weese's interest as a modern architect in the primacy of human scale and texture over the machine-made. Weese favored a contextual design over a "one-size-fits all" approach, considering the importance of the continuity of architectural history rather than a clean break from the past. His return to traditional architectural forms with a modern translation set him apart from his American architectural mainstream colleagues of the 1950s.

Please click on the following links to view the Commission on Chicago Landmarks Final Designation Report for 227 E. Walton or download the ordinance.

Wrigley Building - 400-410 North Michigan Avenue

An enduring symbol of Chicago and one of the city's most recognizable buildings, the Wrigley Building is a gleaming terra-cotta structure located at the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River. The twenty-four story original building (1921) and massive sixteen story north annex (1924) that comprises the Wrigley Building were constructed to serve as the headquarters of the Chicago-based Wrigley Company, the largest producer of chewing gum products in the world. William Wrigley, Jr. commissioned the architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White to design a building that would serve as a fitting monument to the company's success. The firm drew on a variety of influences ranging from European classicism to early skyscraper development. The resulting structure served as the centerpiece of the new "Gateway to Chicago" created by the opening of the Michigan Avenue Bridge in 1920. As the first major commercial structure constructed north of the river, the Wrigley Building inaugurated the rapid commercial development of North Michigan Avenue during the first half of the twentieth century.

Graham, Anderson, Probst and White was one of the most prolific and important architectural firms working in Chicago during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The firm designed many of Chicago's most prominent buildings, including Union Station (1925), the John G. Shedd Aquarium (1929), the Civic Opera Building (1929), and the Merchandise Mart (1930).

The Wrigley Building is one of the largest and most highly ornamented terra cotta skyscrapers in the city, with over 250,000 pieces of architectural terra cotta originally designed and produced by the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company.

Please click on the following links to view the Commission on Chicago Landmarks  Final Designation Report for 400-410 N. Michigan or download the ordinance

Motor Club Building - 68 East Wacker Drive

The Chicago Motor Club Building is an exceptional example of an Art Deco-style skyscraper that also exemplifies the importance of the automobile to the history of early 20th-century Chicago. Built in 1928, the building was the long-time headquarters of the Chicago Motor Club, a nationally-prominent motor club founded in 1906 to promote automobile ownership and to advocate on behalf of motorists, good roads and traffic safety. An early affiliate of the American Automobile Association (AAA), the club played a major role locally in lobbying for the implementation of improvements proposed in Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett's 1909 Plan of Chicago to better accommodate automobile traffic in the City's central business district.

Situated on the north side of E. Wacker Place just west of North Michigan Avenue, the Chicago Motor Club Building is a fifteen-story steel-frame building clad with gray limestone on its primary façade. The base is visually dominated by a highly-decorative and dramatic cast-iron surround that frames the building's monumental entrance, with its three doorways and a set of triple-height windows above. Designed in the Art Deco architectural style by the preeminent Chicago firm of Holabird & Root, the building is elaborately detailed with a plethora of Art Deco-style ornament, including stylized flowers and plants, flowing fountains of water, zigzags, swirls and sunbursts.

Due to its relatively small size, the Chicago Motor Club Building did not require the upper-story setbacks typical of taller 1920s skyscrapers under Chicago's pioneering 1923 zoning ordinance; consequently, the building rises into the sky with uninterrupted verticality.

The visually dramatic, triple-height lobby is one of the finest Art Deco interior spaces in Chicago. The rectangular lobby features small mezzanines at both the north and south ends and is lavishly detailed with Art Deco-style ornament throughout. Alcoves along the east wall were originally designed to showcase scores of auto touring pamphlets and lighted by tall windows ornamented with foliate ornament, geometric figures and Art Deco-style chandeliers.

Situated along the opposite wall above a bank of elevators is a large-scale cartographic mural of the United States by important Chicago artist John Warner Norton depicting 1920s-era transcontinental automobile routes. All of these finely-wrought details convey a sense of luxury, modernity, and sophistication of this exciting era in the evolution of the automobile age.

Please click on the following links to view the Commission on Chicago Landmarks Final Designation Report for 68 E. Wacker o download the ordinance

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Alderman Reilly Honored with IHLA Ambassador of Hospitality Award!

May 15, 2012

Alderman Reilly stands with other recipients of the IHLA Hospitality Ambassador Award: Richard Simon, United Service Companies; Jim Donivan, USA Today; and Lifetime Achievement award recipient Chuck Floyd, Hyatt Hotels

Alderman Reilly was pleased to accept the 2012 Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association's Ambassador of Hospitality award. He was honored with three other notable Chicagoans for their work supporting the hospitality industry. He received the award during the 17th Annual IHLA Hospitality Luncheon, held on Tuesday, May 8th at McCormick Place. The Ambassador of Hospitality Award is a prestigious accolade given annually to three people that have made significant contributions to the development and promotion of the tourism industry statewide. Alderman Reilly is honored that the IHLA chose to recognize his work on behalf of downtown Chicago businesses and offers his congratulations to his fellow honorees.

Upcoming Wells Street Bike Lane Improvements!

May 15, 2012

In the coming weeks, the City of Chicago's Department of Transportation (CDOT) will begin the installation of a "buffered" bike lane on Wells Street, between Chicago Avenue and the Chicago River. The new buffered bike lane will provide cyclists with a wider bike lane in which to operate as well as moving them further away from parked cars and moving motor vehicles in order to reduce the likelihood of "dooring" related incidents and other bike related crashes.

 

To install the buffered bike lane, the width of the motor vehicle lanes will be reduced to 10' each; however, CDOT will not be removing any travel lanes. All existing parking, loading, standing and valet zones will remain as well. The reduction of traffic lanes to 10' in width is also expected to enhance pedestrian safety as the reduced dimension will reduce the speed in which motor vehicles travel.

A buffered bike lane consists of the application of wider coatings of paint on the street surface, and does not include the installation of bollards or any other physical barrier along the route of the bike lane, nor does it include the installation of colored pavement markings. 

Additionally, CDOT will soon install an "enhanced marked shared lane" on Wells Street, south of the Chicago River and ending at Van Buren Street. This will not be considered a true "bicycle lane", as it will merely consist of the application of bicycle symbols on the right side travel lane to notify motorists that bicyclists will also be using the lane.

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Alderman Reilly Views on Chicago Infrastructure Trust Credits Mayor for Ambitious Proposal; Cites Need for More Accountability

May 7, 2012

Dear Neighbor:

As you may know, the City Council recently approved the creation of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust by a vote of 41-7.  As one of the seven aldermen who voted "No" but one who considers himself a supporter of Mayor Emanuel and his vision for fiscal reform in Chicago, I want to explain why I voted against the proposal.

Mayor Emanuel deserves praise for his aggressive pursuit of creative new ways to fund city government and repair our aging infrastructure.  In fact, I support the concept of the Infrastructure Trust and agree with the Mayor that it has the potential to serve as a powerful and effective new financial tool for Chicago.

That said, when the Mayor unveiled this proposal in March, I expressed a sincere interest in finding a way to address the need to ensure the Trust would be directly accountable to Chicago taxpayers. 

I believe Mayor Emanuel has the best intentions for the Trust and agree that it could serve as a creative new financial instrument for the City of Chicago and its sister agencies to fund exciting new infrastructure projects that will transform our city and put people back to work.  In fact, with the addition of some key accountability provisions, I believe the Trust could emerge as a national model.

After carefully reviewing the Ordinance; the Mayor's subsequent Executive Order; and conducting my own research into alternate public-private partnership models, I identified three important changes that I believe would have greatly improved the Infrastructure Trust proposal.

First, I thought it important to codify the commitment the Mayor expressed in his Executive Order requiring a detailed independent financial analysis be conducted for every project that includes a risk assessment, cost analysis and determination of economic benefit to the City of Chicago or its coordinating units of government.  I believe that the Mayor's commitment, made via Executive Order, should have been integrated into the text of the Infrastructure Trust Ordinance.

Second, I agree with the Better Government Association and others that Trust obligations should not confer any obligation to the City or the City's sister agencies (CTA, CHA, CPS and Park District) not expressly stated in a grant agreement.  It is important that all obligations be fully disclosed in grant agreements before the Trust approves the funding for these large projects.

My third and greatest concern about the Trust proposal focused on accountability to Chicago taxpayers.  I believe it is critical for the City Council to review each project proposed to be funded by the Trust - whether it is a City of Chicago initiative or a project benefitting one of our sister agencies.

By requiring the City Council to review and approve each Trust project, the Trust's Board would be expected to package the deal and present it before the City Council for a simple "Yea" or "Nay" vote to ratify the project - with no opportunity for Council amendments or other changes to the original proposal.

I acknowledge the fact that the City Council has no appropriation authority over sister agencies like the Public Schools, CTA or Park District.  However, I believe the Council, by voting to create the Trust and its related governance structure would be essentially endorsing the creation of a relatively untested new financial vehicle - the bulk of which would be used to fund projects approved by appointed boards at sister agencies, not by elected officials who are directly accountable to voting Chicago taxpayers.  This was a very serious problem for me.

As the Mayor has stated repeatedly, the Trust is intended only to be used to launch transformative infrastructure projects that benefit the city and provide a value to Chicago taxpayers.  Based on that rationale, requiring the City Council to provide a simple "Yes" or "No" vote on these projects would not pose any unnecessary burden that could reasonably jeopardize these proposals.

Because Illinois statute prohibits the City Council from having appropriation or spending authority over the City's sister agencies, I suggested the City of Chicago invest a nominal sum of money in every Trust project (City or Sister Agency related) - to serve as a trigger for City Council review and approval.  Unfortunately that suggestion was not integrated into the final proposal that was approved by the City Council.  As such, I had no choice but to vote "No."

I consider myself one of Mayor Emanuel's stronger supporters on the Chicago City Council.  I share his goal to reform the City Budget and restore discipline to our city's financial practices.  More importantly, I want to see our Mayor successful in every way, because the future of the City of Chicago is depending on strong, principled leadership during these difficult and uncertain times.

We are very fortunate to have a Mayor leading city government who is not afraid to propose bold new approaches to solving old problems.  I believe old proposals deserve careful, open review before implementation.  Taxpayers deserve to know the details of these exciting plans are subject to review, analysis and public scrutiny in the light of day.

This policy disagreement aside, I very much look forward to continuing my work with Mayor Emanuel to stabilize the City of Chicago's finances and erase our long-time structural budget deficit once and for all.

Sincerely,

Brendan Reilly

Alderman, 42nd Ward

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Central Loop Bus Rapid Transit Project Unveiled!

May 7, 2012

Last week, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) co-hosted a public presentation to share plans for the Central Loop (East-West) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project. 

The new bus service will provide riders with fast and reliable connections throughout the central business district - from Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center, through the Loop and up to Streeterville and Navy Pier.

To review CDOT's power point presentation from the meeting, please click here.  Public comments on this project are welcome and needed.  Please email your thoughts to CentralLoopBRT@cityofchicago.org.

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Grant Park Saved: Forever Open, Clear and Free . . . Again!  Alderman Reilly Repeals Chicago Children's Museum Development

May 1, 2012

Dear Neighbor:

On Tuesday, April 24th the City Council unanimously approved the ordinance I sponsored to repeal the Chicago Children's Museum controversial development "rights" in Grant Park. Many Chicagoans remember the very public debate between then Mayor Richard M. Daley and me that started in 2007 regarding the legality of the City's decision to allow buildings and development rights in Grant Park.

Mayor Daley aggressively supported the Chicago Children's Museum plan to build a new 100,000 square-foot facility in Grant Park to replace their very popular Navy Pier location. I remained strenuously opposed to approving any buildings in Grant Park based on 100 years of legal precedent and four separate Illinois Supreme Court rulings that each clearly determined the special covenants governing Grant Park must be honored by the City of Chicago.

I formed my position on Grant Park by immersing myself in the history behind the long and tumultuous battle to protect the Park from buildings and obstructions. During that process, I discovered four separate Illinois Supreme Court decisions that conferred special protections on Grant Park as public land.

Those four Supreme Court decisions, commonly referred to as the "Montgomery Ward decisions," affirmed the original 1836 decree that clearly designated Grant Park as "Public Ground - a Common to Remain Forever Open, Clear and Free of any Buildings, or other Obstruction Whatever."

I dedicated this significant amount of time to studying the 176-year history behind Grant Park, because I know that it is one of Chicago's most precious resources. Many people may not be aware the Chicago Children's Museum was not the first worthy organization to pursue a facility in Grant Park. Over the past 150 years, dozens of exciting projects were proposed to be built in Grant Park. However, if exceptions had been allowed for those proposals over the years, we would not have had this debate today, because there would be no open space left to develop in Grant Park.

My position on this issue had nothing to do with the merits of the Chicago Children's Museum or the designs for their proposed facility. This debate was about the future of Grant Park and whether or not it would be prudent to abandon 176 years of history that has preserved this open space as a park for all residents of the City of Chicago. I believed supporting the Children's Museum in Grant Park would set dangerous precedent that would open wide the flood-gates for other entities to lobby for their own development sites on Grant Park.

Grant Park belongs to all residents of Chicago and, thanks to Aaron Montgomery Ward's vigilance, Grant Park has remained protected open-space for 176 years and is one of our city's most precious and popular public assets. There is only one Grant Park and it should remain forever open, clear and free for future generations - from every corner of Chicago - to enjoy for many years to come.

Although the debate over Grant Park grew contentious with an overwhelming majority of Chicagoans opposing the Plan to build in Grant Park, I remained a strong supporter of the Children's Museum's mission and the good work they perform each day. I tried to help the institution identify alternate locations that would have allowed the Museum to expand on a site they would control. I also offered to work with the Museum and Navy Pier to facilitate an expansion at their current home because the Pier and the Museum have enjoyed a mutually beneficial synergistic relationship. Navy Pier is the number one tourist destination in Illinois and data proved that had a lot to do with the Chicago Children's Museum being located at the front of Navy Pier.

As we now fast-forward to today: the Chicago Children's Museum has signed a new lease with Navy Pier and are developing a new expansion plan that will allow the Museum to grow and flourish at its current home on Navy Pier - fantastic news for all!

We all have Aaron Montgomery Ward to thank for fighting to preserve the Grant Park our generation currently enjoys today. I was inspired by the story of his fight to protect Grant Park and determined that it was my duty to honor his legacy and pay it forward to ensure future generations of Chicagoans enjoy Grant Park for many decades to come.

I want to thank the thousands of Chicagoans for their strong advocacy throughout this most recent chapter of the fight to protect Grant Park, with a special thanks to our passionate civic partners and allies at: Save Grant Park, Metropolitan Planning Council, Friends of the Parks, IVI-IPO, Friends of Downtown and the League of Women Voters and many, many others.

We should also recognize those in the Chicago media community who advocated for preserving Grant Park during this latest fight: the editorial pages of Crain's Chicago Business and the Chicago Sun-Times and columnists John Kass, Rich Miller and others who joined the fray. Special recognition goes to the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, who published literally dozens of editorials against this ill-advised plan, offering potential alternatives for the Museum.

Finally, I want to personally thank the 17 courageous members of the City Council who stood with us in 2008 and voted against opening Grant Park to development. I would also like to thank the 30 aldermen who joined me this spring in co-sponsoring the repeal of the Museum's zoning approvals to build in Grant Park. This latest debate is over!

Sincerely,

Brendan Reilly

Alderman, 42nd Ward

"The lakefront by right belongs to the people. It affords their one great unobstructed view, stretching away to the horizon, where water and clouds seem to meet...not a foot of its shores should be appropriated by individuals to the exclusion of the people. On the contrary, everything possible should be done to enhance its natural beauties, thus fitting it for the part it has to play in the life of the whole city." - Daniel Burnham, 1909.

To view past articles on the Chicago Children's Museum, please click here.

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Save up to 50% with Rebates through the 2012 Chicago Sustainable Backyards Program!

May 1, 2012

The Chicago Sustainable Backyards Program returns this spring planting season to give residents information and incentives for more environmentally friendly landscapes in their front, side and back yards.

Rebates are available to Chicago residents for up to 50% back from their next local purchase of:

    • Trees - up to $100 back
    • Native Plants - up to $60 back
    • Compost Bins - up to $50 back
    • Rain Barrels - up to $40 back

More than 50 local retail outlets have rebate forms available, along with Alderman Reilly's Constituent Service website and from the City's website at www.cityofchicago.org/rainbarrel.

The Chicago Sustainable Backyard Program rebates are funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency's Pollution Prevention Program and a USDA Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant.

More information can be found at  www.cityofchicago.org/rainbarrel.  Questions can be directed to RainBarrel@cityofchicago.org or by calling 312-743-9283.

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A. Montgomery Ward Park Playground Expansion Underway!
April 16, 2012

In response to neighborhood concerns regarding the wait times required to enjoy swings and other playground equipment, Alderman Reilly worked with the Chicago Park District to expand the popular public playground at A. Montgomery Ward Park.  The Alderman monitored the development of this expansion plan for almost a year to ensure its ultimate implementation and approved the use of TIF dollars as a funding source. 

We are pleased to announce that the long-awaited expansion of the children's playground began last week!  As many residents have noticed, protective fencing was installed along the perimeter of the south parcel of Ward Park, located at the intersection of Erie and Kingsbury Streets.

The initial construction of the playground was completed during the winter of 2010 but a playground expansion quickly became necessary.  The original playground equipment that was installed, while suitable for children aged 2-6 years of age, would not accommodate children as they progressed through childhood and the expansion project will be enjoyed by children aged between 6-12 years of age.  

The expansion project will increase the current area of the playground by approximately 50%, and the new amenities will include the following:

  • Additional swings
  • Additional seating areas
  • Children Spinners
  • Climbing Dome
  • Enhanced ADA Accessibility to the playground

The peripheral fencing is a necessary safety precaution and will remain in place for the duration of the playground expansion, expected to be completed prior to the 4th of July Holiday.  As part of this construction, the playground will be fully closed to ensure public safety for the entirety of the project.  Additionally, approximately 5 parking spaces on the south side of Erie Street have been temporarily removed as part of the construction; however, these will be returned to public usage upon completion of the project. 

The Alderman's office will continue to monitor this site to ensure minimal disruption to residents during construction.  We appreciate your patience during this temporary inconvenience.  

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