By Pamela Bratcher-McMillan
As I observed the Community Development Commission meeting yesterday in City Hall, I realized that the 8th Ward alderman was more of a facilitator than an administrator. When she read the items in her notes one by one, it felt as though she was giving a report to her supervisor instead of selling the idea of why an oversized, low income senior housing development should be allowed to be built in the Pill Hill community.
And as quickly as the vote was acted upon by the Commission, it came across as a predetermined decision, that the committee knew beforehand how they would vote before the meeting started. Obviously, the committee wasn’t interested, didn’t care, or wasn’t concerned about what the community had to say. The 8th ward alderman took the mic and proceeded to say that 99% of the ward supported the Calumet Heights project. Not so!!!! And her remarks were immediately met with “not true” criticism from several people in the audience. A large part of the 8th Ward community is angry and insulted that she would even make a move to bring the low income, Section 8 housing into their middle-and upper-middle-class neighborhood.
Secondly, the alderman has not met with the immediate community about this Senior Housing Project, the ones that will be most affected by this low income, 7 -story building with 1-2 bedrooms, with a “100-person waiting list”, down from the 400-500 person list her staff mentioned last week in a community meeting. The alderman did hold a developers meeting last week at a Senior Housing development on East 78th Street, pitching the project to what appeared to be a room full of its residents, and she told them there was a “200-person” waiting list.
The alderman failed to attend the meeting at St. Felicitas
And although, about 8 or 10 people stepped up to the mic to express their opposition to the 7 story 1-2 bedrooms low income housing at 9329 to 9429 S. Stony Island Avenue, the Community Development Commission members – who do not live in the community, sided with the alderman.
The Community Development Committee, a small apathetic committee of folks that aren’t familiar with the area, to the horror of most in the audience, continued to vote in the face of a majority of community opponents who unanimously did not want to allow the development to proceed. This after listening to a trumped-up presentation by the 8th Ward Alderman, ignoring earlier community member comments about their concerns for losing their privacy with the huge building over their single family homes and their property value taking a dive.
The 8th Ward alderman aggressively pushed it through, and has yet to meet with the Pill Hill community, even after being sent two invitations to meetings.
What doesn’t the 8th Ward alderman get about the immediate concerns of the community that is affected by this project? The community doesn’t want it! She went on to say that in the Montclare building, another senior building in the 8th ward, that those residents had no complaints about the building being next to their homes. What does that have to do with an area where residents in homes are concerned? Her smug mockery is why the area is losing patience with her quickly. Someone in the audience at the meeting said her “attitude reaps of someone who has been in political office for too long and doesn’t care about the community. We know how we shouldn’t vote in the aldermanic election the next time around. We hear constant lies and a lack of transparency. We want our young people to find the area attractive, and we want to live and continue to grow it. And this will only take the neighborhood down.”
It is obvious that the alderman does not care what the community wants, as per her past and present agendas for the ward. It appears that she’s willing to spin stories – whether factual or not – to get what she wants in the 8thWard. One wonders if the alderman is complacent or passive aggressive when people push these ideas off for development? Or has she received a directive beyond her control to carry out at the expense of the community?
To be continued…
Chicago Plan Commission Meeting
City Hall, 2nd floor City Council Chambers
121 N. LaSalle Street
April 19th at 10:00 am