Planning questions await answers

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There are several proposals involving significant issues in and around Sheffield that await further word from the project proponents and the aldermen’s office.  The largest project is the proposed redevelopment of the Children’s Memorial site.  It appears that progress on the plans for the development of the site are being held up by questions relating to the possibility of including a new public school in order to alleviate overcrowding at the nearby Lincoln Elementary School.  An article in the November 1 issue of the Chicago Tribune describes the issues involved and the differences of opinion among the neighbors.  Meanwhile, planning by McCaffrey and Associates for the site remains stalled and the site remains empty.

It was anticipated that construction would have begun by now on the new Walgreens at Armitage and Dayton.  However, nothing much has occurred in the past months.  Centaur Construction’s representative has been reported in an article on a neighborhood website as indicating that work should begin soon and that the building will be substantially as proposed at the last community meeting, despite the reservations of many neighbors about the style of the building.  Alderman Smith’s office has been working on a proposed Operating Agreement with the owners and the Sheffield Neighborhood Association is awaiting word on the details.

The community also awaits further word on the proposed “woonerf” on Kenmore Avenue between Fullerton and Belden.  At the community meeting on October 8, the design was presented as an alternative to the previous proposal by DePaul University to close Kenmore entirely and make it part of its campus.  The “living street” design referred to in Dutch as a “woonerf” is a concept adapted from Europe in which the street remains open to limited vehicle traffic but is narrowed, curbs removed and landscaped so as to make it more amenable for use by pedestrian and bicycle traffic.  Despite the creativity of the proposal, neighborhood residents still had the same concerns that they did with the street closure proposal, namely the adverse effect on traffic on neighboring streets and the loss of 47 parking spaces along Kenmore.  It was clear from the comments that most neighbors did not think the DePaul proposal for alternative parking for neighbors in its lots and parking structures was a solution to the problem.  A number of people indicated that an expansion of the hours of resident-only permit parking on adjoining streets to restrict parking by DePaul students and Fullerton el commuters was a possible help in alleviating their problem in parking on their blocks.  The community awaits further word from Alderman Waguespack and Alderman Smith’s offices and the university about the Kenmore proposal.

The community awaits word on these proposals in 2014, if not sooner.

Ted Wrobleski chairs SNA’s Planning Committee.