The East Village unites

President's Message by John Scheer

The neighbors of East Village continue to work together to support each other and improve their neighborhood.

The most recent Clean and Green event set an excellent example of the volunteer spirit, lead by Joe Hunnewinkel and co-managed by Susan Knapp. 1st Ward Alderman Manny Flores, his chief of staff Raymond Valadez and ward superintendent Manny Gonzalez made sure that the volunteers had tools, supplies and food to make this successful. Thank you to Joe for coordinating the details and for organizing students to make posters promoting the event.

Another example of neighbors supporting neighbors was the multiple block coordination after a series of shootings last year on Wolcott and Honore. Old and new residents alike came together to help the local police defuse the tension surrounding the initial shooting on the 1100 block of North Wolcott. This was a good example of experienced residents helping newer neighbors understand the options available to improve their neighborhood.

Dan Nehm has been vigilant in monitoring renovations within the landmark zone. Dan has helped raise awareness while engaging the EVA Planning, Preservation and Development chair, Scott Rappe, to assure communication with the Landmarks Commission and aldermanic offices.

Supporting our neighbors is one of the keys to the EVA success story. Baby showers have been frequent since the beginning of the year. Sidewalk sales have bonded numerous families on Damen Avenue. Neighbors also are contributing to school projects and checking on the elderly when weather is bad. Neighbor helping neighbor has made EVA a community institution.

Working with City of Chicago departments is part of the secret. Last month, 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waugespack attended the EVA general meeting and shared his vision for management of the ward and services available through his office. Ald. Flores has continued to make his office available to address the needs of the East Village residents, with support from Streets and Sanitation and Business Affairs and Licensing.

At the June EVA meeting we have scheduled Chicago Police 13th District Commander Judith Martin to provide her insight into the changes being lead by the new Superintendent Jody Weis and advise all of us on the state of safety in our neighborhood.

The West Town library branch has been championed for years by Marjie Isaacson and so many other residents to keep even a temporary footprint of a library in our neighborhood. Now EVA is supporting the proposal to relocate the West Town branch to the Goldblatt’s building on Chicago Avenue. This is a poetic solution, considering EVA’s 1990s involvement in saving the Goldblatt’s building.

Landscaping and Commercial Park have been supported by so many members. Jeanne Felknor has led parkway landscaping with local students and family members. Jeanne has been awarded city honors for her initiatives and her parkways around the neighborhood are amazing. The Commercial Park advisory committee has invested so much time and money to improve East Village's only park. This group has set expectations for even better things to come for Commercial Park.

Neighbors have invested a lot with EVA in both property and business development. Many members are property owners who have continued to invest in renovation, development and sales. All have aided in attracting new residents and raising property values. Numerous EVA members are also members of the West Town Chicago Chamber of Commerce and own or operate neighborhood businesses. This is a very integrated model: Both residents and business owners benefit from their mutual support.

Resident involvement helps EVA to continue to improve our neighborhood. Please bring your own passions to the next EVA meeting and join the community.

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