Tough target: Wood Street police station



When residents gather at the Wood Street police station Wednesday for the monthly East Village CAPS meeting, crime is likely to take a back seat to the cop shop itself.

The 13th District station house at 937 N. Wood might be eliminated in next year's city budget, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel submits to the City Council this month. Although the location has been a target for a generation, reports of its potential lockdown have prompted circulation of an "Act Now" handbill in the neighborhood.

Modernizing the 13th squad would be more economical than a distant relocation, according to the broadside, and its closing would lead to "reduced police responsiveness ... an erosion of public safety and more 'broken windows' in this great neighborhood."

Anne Shaw, a local attorney, has created an online petition to save the Wood Street station. There's a Facebook page where you can "Like" the 13th District, and a growing comment board on EveryBlock.

The flier suggests that neighbors contact the local aldermen (linked at left), the police superintendent, the Chamber of Commerce, the mayor's office and the East Village Association.

Wood Street's status indeed was an issue in Monday's EVA meeting. Ald. Proco Joe Moreno has asked the city to spell out its 13th District intentions, said Ronda Locke of the 1st Ward office. Locke says Moreno intends to keep the station house open.

"We're being punished for having an active community and good police officers," said EVA vice president Neal McKnight, suggesting that its low crime rate put the district at risk for consolidation.

EVA was challenged on its position, restated here last month, to retain the site for community use in the district's "eventual relocation." Scott Rappe, who co-chairs the planning committee with McKnight, said the intent was to take sale of the property off the table, removing a big incentive to shutter the station.

McKnight indicated the community's first priority should be to retain the current police presence, with officers who know the neighborhood. One alternative, McKnight said, is to establish a police substation in the renovated, city-owned Goldblatt's Building at 1625 W. Chicago. But Locke suggested not much space was available there.

Crime-stoppers likely will find the city budget a more vital topic than the next iPhone. But the gadget's anticipated release has prompted a CAPS reminder not to be so oblivious when using mobile devices.

Tom Tomek, EVA's CAPS liaison, noted that an aware community plays an underrated crime-fighting role: Convicted burglars at a July police seminar said their top reason to reject a target building is the presence of nosy neighbors.

Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy Beat 1322 meets at 7 pm Wednesday at the Wood Street station. EVA's board of directors meets at 6:30 pm Monday at Leona's Restaurant, 1936 W. Augusta Blvd. If you can't attend either meeting, leave your comments below.

2 comments:

  1. There are a lot of fairly reliable rumors and reasonable bad things that will happen with the station space if it is closed. In a good economy, the land that the station occupies would be sold to developers for top dollar - but these are not good times. Also the structure is immense and will require some significant expense to demolish. Despite the age, the station is a very solid structure and in good shape - just needs updating. Rumors 'heard' of the possibilities include:
    - City will transfer the property to some other city department for various mixed uses (most likely case... Ironic too, as the argument to close the station is because it is 'too old' and 'too expensive' to keep open - if just transferring it to another department, they will incur similar expenses. )
    - City will sell the property as is. Previous stations have had this happen and sold to various private / charitable organizations.
    - The latest rumor was that the station could become a homeless shelter!?

    One thing that all data points indicate is that the City is definitely NOT going to pay to demolish the structure and then use the land as a park. That simply is not going to happen.


    Another thing, speaking with 'sources'.. I have learned that even though there are things that could be done to reduce costs at the station, neighborhood offices such as the Wood Street Police Station do not have many 'expensive' operations such as lock up, labs, etc. The Wood Street Police Station has considerably lower overhead than many other stations, aside from higher than average energy bills and some maintenance, which could be covered with some building modification (insulate, update HVAC, etc.). So the argument that closing the station will greatly save cost really does not add up. What really seems to be the case here is that there is a power play, to change from the neighborhood offices, to larger centralized stations and re-distribute police as desired. This is alarming these actions threaten to destabilize areas as the East Village, West Town and Ukrainian Village which have seen their neighborhoods bloom and prosper in the past 15 years, due much in part to decreased crime and the feelings that we are safe where we live and work.

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  2. I learned tonight that we should also do a letter writing campaign and that the Mayor will unveil a budget on Wednesday, October 12, which will likely include police station closings.

    If we are going to Rally, we should do one on Monday, Oct. 10.

    A sample letter can be found at http://www.change.org/petitions/act-now-save-13th-district-police-station or on the Facebook page. Please mail your letters opposing the closing of the station to the following:

    Hon. Rahm Emanuel
    Mayor
    City of Chicago
    121 N. LaSalle - Room 507
    Chicago, IL 60602

    Hon. Alderman Proco Joe Moreno
    2058 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60647-6531

    Hon. Alderman Robert Fioretti
    1319 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605-2537

    Hon. Alderman Roberto Maldonado
    2434 W. Division, Chicago, IL 60622-2942

    Hon. Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr.
    1463 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60642-8664

    Hon. Alderman Jason Ervin
    259 N. Pulaski, Chicago, IL 60624-1833

    Hon. Alderman Scott Waguespack
    2657 N. Clybourn, Chicago, IL 60614-1003

    Hon. Alderman Brendan Reilly
    325 W. Huron, 510, Chicago, IL 60654-3640

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