With temperatures warming up after record-breaking cold over the past few days, snowmelt and rain can lead to flooding in the Chicagoland region.
Frozen ground is unable to absorb water and snow, and run-off immediately flows into the sewers. In addition, ice can block storm drains and streams. As a result, flooding may occur when the sewer system becomes overwhelmed from the combination of normal sewage flow, rainwater, and snow melt.
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is preparing for the flow by lowering water levels in the Chicago Area Waterway System to make room for a runoff. In addition, their Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) tunnels, Majewski Reservoir, Thornton Composite Reservoir, and McCook Reservoir Stage I are ready to hold over 11 billion gallons of water.
Municipalities, as well as the public, can help plan for and minimize flooding by reducing water use. Postponing high water consumption activities such as bathing or showering, running dishwashers, or washing clothes will also help provide maximum capacity in the local and intercepting sewer systems.
Other activities that can help minimize flooding include:
- Make sure storm drains are clear and not buried under snow drifts;
- Keep areas around streams free of floatable debris;
- If your home has a backwater valve installed on the sewer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to ensure that it is functioning properly;
- Check your sump pump to make sure it is working properly;
- If your home or area is prone to flooding, you may want to remove valuable items from basement floors;
- Keep your gutters clear. When they are blocked, water will pour over the edges, landing on the ground next to your home. If you have cracks in the concrete wall of your basement or problems with your tile, this water could enter your home.
If you see flooding, report it to 3-1-1 or call my office at 773-286-4545.
Four New Restaurants Opening in the 45th Ward
The list of local restaurant offerings in the 45th Ward continues to expand.
Sabor a Gloria, 4208 N. Milwaukee Ave., is holding a grand opening, starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3. To celebrate, they are offering a free empanada or 10% off with purchase.
O-Manny’s, 3641 W. Irving Park Road, is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6. This is the former C-Manny’s location re-opening under new management but with the same great menu and famous margaritas.
Stackerz, 5729 N. Northwest Highway, is planning a February opening to begin serving hamburgers, hot dogs and other grilled delights.
El Asadero Colombiano is renovating the space at 4800 N. Central. They expect to open in the next few months in the corner space as well as the storefront to the north.
I hope you’ll join me welcoming these new businesses to the ward and continue to support all your current favorites as well. When we shop local, we keep the ward strong.
Voting Information for the Upcoming Municipal Election
The February 26 municipal election is around the corner. As of Tuesday, January 29, Chicagoans can vote early at the Loop Super Site, 175 W. Washington. This is the only early voting location that will be open until February 11.
Beginning February 11 through February 25, you may vote early at any early voting location. The 16th District Police Station, 5151 N. Milwaukee, is the early voting location in the 45th Ward. A list of all voting locations and hours throughout the city are available on the Chicago Board of Election’s website.
On February 26, you are required to vote at your polling place. You can find your polling place by entering your address on the voter’s information page on the Chicago Board of Election’swebsite. Polls close at 7 pm on Election Day.
Those interested in voting by mail may request a ballot on the Chicago Board of Election’s website. The deadline to apply for a vote by mail ballot is 5 pm on February 21. When you receive the vote by mail ballot, make sure to follow all the enclosed instructions and vote in secret. A mail ballot must be postmarked (or, in the absence of a postmark, certified by the voter) on or before Election Day, February 26, in order to be counted. In addition, the Board of Elections must receive the ballot by March 12 for the ballot to be counted. You may return the vote by ballot through the U.S. Postal Service, by personal delivery to the Election Board (either by the voter or an immediate relative), or through a state-licensed motor carrier (such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL). Once a mail ballot has been returned to the Board of Elections, it cannot be retrieved or withdrawn. The same voter cannot vote in person at a polling place on Election Day unless they bring the mail ballot (or a portion of it) to the election judges or completes an affidavit stating the mail ballot was never received by the voter or that it was received and lost.
You may register to vote at ANY early voting location or at your polling place on February 26. You will need two forms of identification, one which must show a current address, to register to vote at a polling place. A list of acceptable forms of ID are available to view on the Chicago Board of Election’s website.
Help Save Fannie’s Cafe
Small businesses are the foundation of our neighborhood. They act as spaces for neighbors to come together and build relationships.
However, small emergencies and changes in the market can create financial hardships, putting them at risk of closing their doors.
Fannie’s has acted as a space for dialogue among neighbors and been a partner for many local organizations. Our neighborhood is a better place because of their decision to open here.
I hope you will join me in making a contribution if you are able to save a neighborhood gem. You can make a donation online at GoFundMe.
Fines & Fees Practices Online Portal
The City Clerk announced an online portal to gain resident feedback on their experiences with the city’s fines and fees practices. The portal will allow residents to submit feedback that will be reviewed by the Fines, Fees, and Access Collaborative.
Through March 31, residents can submit their feedback onlineanonymously. Residents will also have the option to leave their name and contact information for follow-up from members of the Collaborative.
In addition to the roll out of the website, the City Clerk will host a Town Hall on Tuesday, March 12 at 6 pm in the Douglas Park field house, 1401 S. Sacramento. During the Town Hall, residents will have the opportunity to share their ideas and feedback on fines and fees practices in the city.
View How Your Tax Dollars Have Been Spent on Water, Sewer, and Other Infrastructure Improvements
My office has created two interactive maps, authorized menuand water and sewer projects, in an effort to help residents visualize how their tax dollars have been spent on infrastructure in the 45th Ward since 2011.
Every year, all 50 wards receive $1.3 million to spend on infrastructure through the aldermanic discretionary budget. This is colloquially known as the “menu money” because the Department of Transportation provides aldermen with a menu of projects items to install in their ward. This menu includes a variety of infrastructure options, including street repaving, sidewalk replacement, curb replacement, bike lanes, street light replacement, and other capital projects.
In most wards, this money is allocated by the alderman, with varying degrees of input from city departments, staff, and residents. Since 2012, however, I have invited residents of the 45th Ward vote on how they would like to allocate $1 million of those discretionary capital funds through a tool known as participatory budgeting (PB).
PB is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. The process was first developed in Brazil in 1989, and there are now over 1,500 participatory budgets around the world, mostly at the municipal level. The first PB process in the US was launched here in Chicago in 2009.
Often, residents are very familiar with their neighborhoods and might have unconventional ideas that can improve their daily commute, parks, schools, and more. Participatory budgeting is a tool that taps into that resident genius and allows it an incubator space. This process puts transparency into how the city spends our tax dollars and gives residents a real voice – by offering ideas and voting for specific projects – into how that money is spent in our ward.
You can view an interactive map reflecting all projects that were implemented using the aldermanic discretionary budget since 2011 on my website. Please note the ward boundaries changed due to a remap in 2015. Some projects that fall outside the current 45th Ward boundaries were in the former boundaries. These projects are still reflected on the map.
Water and Sewer Main Replacements
The Department of Water Management is responsible for delivering nearly 1 billion gallons of fresh, potable water to the residents of Chicago every day. They are also responsible for removing wastewater and stormwater from the streets through the sewer system. A major component to maintaining a healthy and functioning water system in the City of Chicago is by ensuring the integrity of the infrastructure can withstand the daily high usage that it’s presented. In 2011, the Department of Water Management announced that they would be replacing water and sewer mains across the city that date back 100 years or more to avoid main breaks and other potential problems.
Since then, they have been aggressive in replacing these outdated water and sewer mains. The projects are determined by, overseen, and managed by the Department of Water Management.
You can view an interactive map reflecting all water and sewer main replacements since 2011 throughout the ward on my website. Please note the ward boundaries changed due to a remap in 2015. Some projects that fall outside the current 45th Ward boundaries were in the former boundaries. These projects are still reflected on the map.
Property Tax Exemption Workshop February 4
Staff members from Commissioner Gainer’s office will be available to assist with exemption forms and answer questions. Come by my office, 4854 N. Milwaukee, between 10 am and 4 pm on Monday, February 4 for a Property Tax Exemption Workshop.
For those who would like to apply for the Senior Freeze, please remember to bring your 2017 Federal Income Taxes. A government-issued ID is required for all exemption forms.
More information on various exemptions and forms are available on the assessor’s website.
Princess Party Feb. 8
Rosedale Park, 6312 W. Rosedale, is hosting a Princess Party on Friday, February 8 from 6-8 pm.
Come dressed in your princess outfit or fancy dress for a night full of princess-themed songs, crafts, games, and fun!
All ages of princesses (children) must be accompanied by a king or a queen (adult).
You must register a princess ahead of the event to attend. You can register online or by calling the park at 773-631-7156. Registration only costs $5 per princess.
Austin-Foster Dog Park Meeting Feb. 11
In the Fall, 45th Ward residents voted to allocate $100,000 of the aldermanic discretionary budget to create a dog park at Austin-Foster Park.
Neighbors are organizing and starting a dog-friendly area committee to meet the requirements of the Chicago Park District to have this installed.
If you’re interested in joining the board or learning more, join them on Monday, February 11 at 6:30 pm at Fannie’s Cafe, 5044 W. Montrose.
File Your Taxes with Liberty Tax & Support the Irving Park Food Pantry
Liberty Tax Service, 4900 W. Irving Park, has partnered with the Irving Park Community Food Pantry, 3801 N. Keeler, again this tax season as a way to give back to our community.
For every person who files their tax return with Liberty Tax through February 28, they will donate $5 to the food pantry. Their tax professionals can answer all your questions about your return, including a program to receive your return quicker for qualified recipients.
Liberty Tax Service is open from 9 am to 9 pm Mondays through Fridays, 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays, and available by appointment on Sundays through the tax season. For questions or to schedule an appointment, call (773) 286-6900.
Property Tax Exemption Applications Now Available
The Cook County Assessor’s Office has released property tax exemption applications for the 2018 tax year (tax bills payable in 2019), including the Homeowner Exemption, Senior Exemption, and Senior Assessment Freeze.
Remember that senior citizen homeowners must complete their senior exemption and senior freeze forms every year.
Exemption applications are available to download on the Cook County Assessor’s website. The deadline to apply is February 6.
Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program Community Meeting Rescheduled for Feb. 28
The Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program invites all to attend, listen, learn, and participate during an informational community meeting on Thursday, February 28 at 6 pm in the theater at Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett.
Created by state statute, Home Equity guarantees you won’t lose any money if your property falls below its current fair market value. More information on the program is available online.
Chicago’s Free Tax Preparation Assistance Program Opens Early February
Eligible individuals and families with children could receive up to $7,589 from the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credit alone, and that’s not including other valuable credits. Many Chicagoans may not claim all the income tax credits they deserve without the help of knowledgeable preparers.
Families earning up to $55,000 or individuals earning up to $30,000 are eligible to take advantage of the city’s free and confidential income tax assistance at 17 sites across Chicago.
Volunteer tax preparers certified through IRS-approved training will assist eligible tax payers with federal and state income tax returns for the 2018 tax year. Sites will be open between early February and mid-April 2019. For specific information on location and site hours, visit the Tax Prep Chicago website.
The closest site for 45th Ward residents is:
Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett
- Fridays from 10 am-4 pm February 8 thru April 12
- Saturdays from 9 am-12 pm February 2 thru April 13
Last year, the City of Chicago’s free income tax assistance helped 20,000 families and individuals receive $30 million in tax refunds and credits. This added income not only has a direct impact on the lives of Chicago residents – it also helps sustain small businesses, strengthens neighborhoods, and infuses millions of dollars into the local economy.
For more information and to view additional locations, visit the Tax Prep Chicago website.
Submit Your Comment on the Interim Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Plan by Feb. 27
The FAA is currently conducting a written evaluation of the O’Hare modernization environmental impact statement for the proposed Interim Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Plan.
The Interim Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Plan would rotate the runways used between 10 pm and 5 pm on a weekly basis. The plan would balance the nighttime noise that is shared by all communities surrounding O’Hare rather than being concentrated over our neighborhoods.
The Fly Quiet Rotation Plan was first introduced in 2015 after the O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission (which I sit on), the Chicago Department of Aviation, and the FAA worked together to find a way to alleviate some of the noise pollution residents living near O’Hare incur. Since introducing the Fly Quiet Plan, the ONCC has overseen two additional rotation tests to collect data on how this could provide near-term relief to the highest impacted communities surrounding O’Hare.
The FAA is now evaluating the results of the tests and potential environmental impacts before making a decision on the proposed Interim Fly Quiet Plan. If approved, the new plan would be implemented through January 2021.
An integral part of the evaluation process comes from reviewing public commentary. Comments should be as specific as possible and address the analysis of potential environmental impacts. To assist the public in evaluating the environmental impacts, the FAA has published documents pertaining to the environmental impact for the proposed Interim Fly Quiet Runway Rotation Plan.
You may submit a comment online through February 27, 2019.
Thanks for reading,
Fri., Feb 1, 5-8 pm, Rex Tavern, 4933 N. Milwaukee. Join Jefferson Park Forward at their monthly First Friday Happy Hour event. This is a great way to meet neighbors and support a local business. Every month, JPF picks a new watering hole to host their event. This month, they’re meeting at Rex Tavern. Cost of purchases apply.
Tue., Feb 5, 7 pm, Independence Park Bungalow, 3900 N. Hamlin. Join neighbors to learn how you can participate in supporting your community at the monthly GIPNA Board Meeting. Free.
Sun., Feb 10, 10 am, Eden United Church of Christ, 5051 W. Gunnison. The Eden United Church of Christ will host its Annual Girl Scout and Boy Scout Sunday. The service will include a flag ceremony, participation of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and Reb. Jacki Belile’s message: Finding our way. Beginning at 11 am, the church and scout groups will host refreshments, a robotics display, a Boy Scout slideshow, and a play about the history of Girl Scouts. Informational tables on the troops and registration will be available. Free.
Sun., Feb 10, 5-7 pm, Irving Park Lutheran Church, Gym, 4057 N. Harding. If the weather forecasters are right, we’ll all be ready for a steaming bowl of soup come Feb. 10, which just so happens to be the date of Carlson Community Services’ Soup & Bread fundraiser. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Music, kids’ craft room, and bake sale.$15/adults; $10/seniors and teens; $5/kids 3-12; free/under 3.
Mon., Feb 11, 7 pm, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Parish Hall, 3857 N. Kostner. Meet neighbors and discuss how to improve your community during the Old Irving Park Association meeting. More info: online. Free.
Wed., Feb 13, 7 pm, Dunham Park, 4638 N. Melvina. Learn what you can do about crime the1622 beat meeting. Find your beat at the45th Ward map. More info: 312-742-4521. Free.
Wed., Feb 13, 7 pm, Athletic Field Park, 3546 W. Addison. Learn what you can do about crime during the 1732-1733 beat meeting. Find your beat at the45th Ward map. More info: 312-742-4588. Free.
Sat., Feb 16, 6:30 pm, St. Viator School, Recreation Center – Gym, 4140 W. Addison. The 8th-grade class is hosting a Trivia Night. This event is potluck style, so bring a dish, snacks, or refreshments for your table. Table themes and costumes not required but encouraged. Register by February 8. For forms and more info: email organizers. $25/person.
Sun., Feb 17, 2 pm, Irving Park Lutheran Church, 4100 N. Harding. The Irving Park Fine Arts Committees presents a free concert featuring Mary Jo Neher, horn, and Joseph Burgio, organ. A reception with the artists follows the concert. Free to attend, though donations are gladly welcomed.
Mon., Feb 18, 7:30 pm, Location TBD. Meet neighbors and discuss ways to become more involved in your community during the Portage Park Neighborhood Association meeting. Every month, PPNA hosts their meeting at a different business or organization in the neighborhood. For location and more information, view their calendar online. Free.
Tue., Feb 19, 7 pm, Phil’s Pizza D’Oro, 5800 N. Milwaukee. The Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association is changing their regular monthly meeting location to Phil’s Pizza D’Oro. This month’s meeting will be on February 19 so people can vote in the municipal election on February 26. Cost of purchases apply.
Wed., Feb 20, 11 am, Portage Park Senior Center, 4100 N. Long (Parking/Entrance at Berteau and Linder). Want to make Portage Park more age-friendly? If so, please join in learning how a village project is trying to help isolated seniors in the community and how you can become a volunteer during the Portage Park Village Meeting. Free.
Wed., Feb 20, 6:30 pm, Gladstone Park, 5421 N. Menard. Learn how you can help further park development through volunteering, fundraising, and support during the Gladstone Park Advisory Council meeting. The GPAC meets every third Thursday of the month. Follow them on Facebook to keep up on GPAC news. Free to attend.
Wed., Feb 20, 7 pm, 17th District Police Station, Community Room, 4650 N. Pulaski. Learn what you can do about crime during the 1722-1723 beat meeting. Find your beat at the45th Ward map. More info: 312-742-4588. Free.
Wed., Feb 20, 7 pm, Independence Park, 3945 N. Springfield. Help plan upcoming events and identify priorities to better the neighborhood park during theIndependence Park Advisory Council meeting. Show your community pride and have fun in the process! IPAC meets every third Wednesday of each month. Follow them on Facebook to keep up on IPAC news. Free.
Thur., Feb 21, 5:15 pm, Location TBD. Every third Thursday of the month, the Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association and the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce host aThirsty Third Thursday at a local watering hole. This is a great opportunity to meet new neighbors while supporting a local business. More info: online. Cost of purchases.
Thur., Feb 21, 7 pm, Location TBD. Meet neighbors and get involved in the community during the Jefferson Park Forward monthly meeting. Every month, JPF hosts their meeting at a different business or organization in the neighborhood. For location and more information, view their calendar online. Free.
Wed., Feb 27, 7 pm, Portage Park Senior Center, 4100 N. Long. Learn what you can do about crime during the1624 beat meeting. Find your beat at the45th Ward map. More info: 312-742-4521. Free.
Wed., Feb 27, 7 pm, Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, Basement Auditorium, 5320 W. Giddings. Meet neighbors and discuss how to improve your community during the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association monthly meeting. Free.
Thur., Feb 28, 7 pm, St. Bartholomew, Krueger Hall, 4910 W. Addison. Learn what you can do about crime during the 1634 beat meeting. Find your beat at the45th Ward map. More info: 312-742-4521. Free.