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Chicago Fri Jan 13 2012

Chicagoans Voice Concerns Over Remapping Process at Second Hearing

On a snowy Thursday evening Chicagoans filled the Progressive Baptist Church sanctuary for the second ward-remapping hearing of the year, led by Ald. Richard Mell.

At this hearing, a main focus of the evening were concerns over how the 11th Ward, near where the hearing was held, would be drawn on the Map for a Better Chicago, but primarily the problems residents in Back of the Yards face due to being divided.

With one of the proposed ward maps, Back of the Yards would be smashed into four wards and another map would split the neighborhood into three wards. Currently the neighborhood is split into five wards, even dividing Hamline Elementary School, which consists of three buildings, into three wards.

Hamline Elementary Principal Valerie Brown was one of the speakers at the hearing and explained the situation for her school as well as the parents and students. For her, one of the buildings is in the Ald. Willie Cochran's 20th ward, another building is in the 3rd Ward, which is served by Ald. Pat Dowell; then another building has a portion in Ald. Cochran's ward, but the rest is in the 16th Ward, which is Ald. Joann Thompson's ward, according to Brown's testimony at the hearing.

"The families live in Thompson's ward. Three wards, one principal. Who do I go to?" Brown asked the group of Aldermen assembled at the hearing.

One of the most moving speeches at the hearing came from Josefina Marquez, a mother of three who lives in Back of the Yards.

"I am so concerned because our neighborhood needs to be one ward, one community," Marquez said.

Marquez told the audience gathered in the sanctuary about how much she loves reading and using the public library, as well as taking her three children to the library. The Back of the Yards library is closed due to "repeated flooding," and thus Marquez has to travel two miles to the nearest library branch. She then told the people gathered in the church that she is lucky that she has a car and her sons have driver's licenses since others in Back of the Yards do not.

"[Other mothers] have strollers with five kids in them," Marquez said.

She finished her testimony with a plea to the aldermen for another library before more from Back of the Yards spoke before the Aldermen. Like other words said by Back of the Yards residents, Marquez focused on what are the problems the neighborhood faces due to being shattered into five wards, including crime and gang problems.

Meanwhile, residents from the University Commons development spoke before the Aldermen about their development being split into two wards as part of the remap process.

University Commons is a condo development near the University of Illinois at Chicago campus that has helped contribute to the gentrification of the neighborhood.

Eleventh Ward residents at the hearing voiced concerns over the Map for a Better Chicago. Consensus among the statements was that the residents feel that the Taxpayers Protection Map worked the best, as it didn't divide the ward.

Around 8:45 pm, Ken Smith of Fuller Park addressed the crowd over the treatment of the small neighborhood.

"We were an afterthought. We've always had to scrap and fight for things that residents in other neighborhoods could call their alderman to get."

Smith said that the proposed maps would split Fuller Park into two wards, with the exception of the Equity Map, which would divide the neighborhood into three wards.

"I've got one word for the next remap: rectangles," Smith said to the crowd.

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Anthony / January 13, 2012 10:51 PM

This post is a bit tendentious. If you wanted to write about the problems in Back of the Yards you didn't have to use this meeting as a takeoff point. The meeting seemed to cover much more than that.
You could also use a bit of editing before posting. I believe the Progressive Baptist Church is in the 3rd Ward as well

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