The Jefferson Park Free Press
March – April, 2010
Volume V News and Commentary Issue II
By Robert Bank
New Jefferson Park Library: “Sulzer-Size it”
After winning the last Aldermanic Election in ‘07, Ald. Levar (45th) said he was “...on record for a new library on Lawrence, for Jefferson Park...” I myself first brought the idea up at the Portage Park Neighborhood Association’s (PPNA) Aldermanic Debate nearly 4 years ago when I was a candidate for Alderman, and I was delighted at how many people responded with great enthusiasm for the idea of a new library. The residents clung to the issue forcing Alderman Levar to respond in favor of a new library, at a public meeting several months after the ‘07 election; maybe he hopes you forgot about it by now.
Alderman Levar has been Daley’s “yes man” for nearly 24 years, and it’s time to call in his IOU’s, and get something done for this neighborhood. Hopefully he hasn’t used up all those IOU’s with patronage jobs for his relatives and precinct captains.
The Chicago Public Library has only two Regional Libraries, Woodson and Sulzer; it’s time they added at least one more, Jefferson Park. Jefferson Park is as large as most suburbs, and most of those suburbs have their own Sulzer-size library. A nice place to start would be the unsightly lots on the 5201 W. Lawrence block (across from the Copernicus Center/Gateway Theatre). One could imagine picking up the Sulzer Regional Library at 4455 N. Lincoln, and plopping it down on the 5201 W. Lawrence lot next to the Sportif Bike shop, the properties are very similar in size, and the city already owns half the Lawrence Avenue property.
In defense of replacing a mere 20 year old library in Bridgeport, 11th Ward Alderman, James Balcer is quoted as saying, “It’s a democracy, if you want something, fight for it.”
I hope our 24 year veteran Alderman can muster up some courage, and start fighting for our fair share of the City’s nearly $495,000,000 TIF (Tax Increment Financing) slush fund pie; yes that’s $495 Million!
Levar’s perennial excuse “there’s no money in the budget” doesn’t ring true; Levar had no trouble proposing $5.8 Million of the taxpayers’ money in TIF funds for Jimmy Kozonis’ 132 unit condo plan on the same block of W. Lawrence Avenue, back in ’04, until 300 angry residents showed up at the Copernicus/Gateway Theatre to give the plan a resounding thumbs down. Levar even approved a $1.2 Million transfer of TIF funds from the Portage Park TIF to the Jefferson Park TIF, to purchase part of the land the failed condo project was to be built on.
Our nearly 40 year old Jefferson Park Library, built in 1970 B.C. (Before Computers), is tiny compared to most City libraries, and the online access is woefully inadequate, and eats up a large chunk of the reading room. Our 45th Ward seems to be last in line for everything, from streetscaping to park upgrades; it’s time for a new library. Come to the Capital Improvement Program public hearing at the 16th District Police Station at 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave. at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 6th, 2010 and let the City officials know what you think.
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