Every winter, the Cubs hold a community meeting for Wrigleyville residents to hear what the team has been doing and for the team to listen to community comments and questions. In attendance for the Cubs:
Michael Lufrano: Executive Vice President, Community Affairs/General Counsel
Kam Buckner: Manager, Goverment & Neighborhood Relations
Julian Green: Vice President, Communications and Community Affairs
Carl Rice: Vice President, Ballpark Operations
Other Cubs staffers were also in the room. Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) was the only alderman present. There were representatives from the other Wrigley Field area wards (32nd, 46th and 47th). In the past, other aldermen usually made an appearance. Ald. Tunney acted as moderator for the evening, as he usually does. It was interesting that when the WGN-TV news crew appeared, Tunney started to speak up. They appeared around 20 minutes after the meeting started. Prior to their appearance, Tunney seemed a bit annoyed that each speaker was taking too long.
Unlike last year, the meeting room at the CPD 19th District Police Station was not full. Last year, the crowd spilled out in the hallway. I estimate 120 people were there. This year, maybe half that number, about 50 or 60. It was hard to estimate, since many in the room were aides to city officials, or Cubs staffers, in the room.
In past meetings, Michael Lufrano was the primary representative for the Cubs. He would make the Cubs presentation and take any questions. This year, Kam Buckner handled all that. Since this was his first time, he appeared to be just reading a PR type script and looked a bit uncomfortable. I recognized most of the city officials from previous meetings, so they knew what was expected of them.
There weren't any fireworks. During the Q&A session, there were the normal concerns about neighborhood quality of life issues such as noise, littering, public urination and traffic. There will be no "Sausage Fest" this year. This was a street festival held on the 3600 block of Sheffield Avenue last year. For any street festival events planned by the Cubs this year on the 3600 block of Sheffield Avenue, the events will begin two hours before game time and will continue until the end of the second inning.
There were concerns expressed about events that the Cubs would like to hold in the "triangle lot" along Clark Street. Residents were concerned about how these events would be regulated, particularly regarding liquor licenses, noise and curfew times. Ald. Tunney responded that no blanket permit has been issued, so the Cubs would have to apply for each individual event. Each event would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
There were questions raised about the future plans for the "triangle lot." The residents who spoke were opposed to liquor being served in any future Cubs plaza.
Last year, the city changed how the neighborhood parking hot line was operated. The hotline is now being answered at the 19th district station. The city admitted there were problems with the new arrangement. The district commander stated that this would be taken care of, for the upcoming season.
The police sergeant in charge of the special Clark St. entertainment detail is now also in charge of the Cubs detail. This should improve the communications between the police and the Wrigleyville bar businesses. Bar owners will now be called into the station if the police observe any particular issues. Bar owners are now responsible for having security staff at the both the front and rear of their businesses.
The Cubs were criticized for the transportation information on their website. It did not emphasize alternative transportation. The first thing listed is driving information, instead of public transportation. The Cubs agreed that their website needs to be updated to clearly offer public transportation and cycling options.
There's nothing really new on the Wrigley Field renovation plans. Ald. Tunney just made it clear that the city has approved the Cubs' plans. Everyone is now waiting for the Cubs to start work.
Entertainment was provide by a local resident who I always see at these meetings. Some of the city officials seem to be familiar with him; he lives on the 1000 block of Roscoe. He doesn't want Wrigley Field to turn into the next Shea Stadium. According to him, with the landing strip changes at O'Hare, planes are now passing lower over Wrigleyville. He was concerned about increased noise levels in the community. He urged residents to contact Congressman Quigley's office. This same resident gave an impassioned speech to not narrow Sheffield to accommodate the Cubs. After reciting the history of Sheffield Avenue, he concluded that if the street were changed, construction would awaken the ghosts of Joseph Earl Sheffield, the man for whom the street was named.
Here are some numbers provided by the various speakers for things of interest regarding the team, the community, and the city.
Chicago Cubs Manager, Goverment & Neighborhood Relations Kam Buckner
2013: 35,000 fans used the remote parking services. It came out to 14,259 cars.
2013: 4,500 bikes took advantage of the Cubs operated bike valet parking service. In addition, hundreds of other bikes utilized the bike racks around the ballpark.
2013: $1.1 million went to the Cubs fund for neighborhood improvement projects. This included new traffic signals.
2013: Helped organize a hospitality task force, with off duty Chicago Police officers, to help patrol the neighborhood.
2013: $500,000 went to Lakeview neighborhood groups.
2013/14: Contributed $1 million for a new park at 1230 W. School St.
2014: Wrigley Field will host a college women's lacrosse game, Northwestern vs. USC, Saturday, April 26 at 7 p.m.
2014: The remote parking service will be changed for this season. It will be a free service, offered by the Cubs. The lot will be relocated to Irving Park Rd and Rockwell Ave. Details on the new pickup and dropoff points are still being worked out. The shuttle bus route is also still being worked on. (Note: I have heard elsewhere that the CTA will not be involved in this service.)
2014: Adding parking to the Eddy St. facility (Brown Lot). Construction scheduled to start around the All-Star break.
2014: Currently repaving and upgrading the parking facility at the Green Lot (located at Grace & Seminary).
Chicago Police Department: 19th District Commander Elias Voulgaris
2013: Increased post game presence.
2013: Removed the presence of the "bucket boys" from outside the ballpark.
2014: Continue a "crackdown" on cyclists not obeying traffic laws. Will add two bike patrol officers to detail around the ballpark.
2014: During concerts, will not allow drinking on the public way outside the ballpark. Issues with fans camping out outside the ballpark to listen to the show.
2014: Will continue monitoring parking (selling parking) on private property. No more than three cars are permitted.
2014: Will be adding bike patrol officers to district. Will primarily be added to lakefront areas.
2014: CPD camera will be added somewhere along Clark St.
Streets & Sanitation Department
2013: 309 tows during night games.
2013: 13 tows during concerts.
2013: Average of 65 blue police barricades used during games.
Department of Transportation
2013: Installed left-turn traffic arrows at Clark/Irving Park, Addison/Ashland and Halsted/Belmont to help traffic flow.
2013: Replaced damaged LV-2 zone parking signs.
2014: $700,000 from Cubs Fund to add traffic lights to Clark/Roscoe and Clark/School-Aldine intersections. (School St. changes to Aldine at Clark St.)
2014: Will be changing traffic light programing at the Clark/Irving Park intersection. There is also a light for vehicles exiting Graceland Cemetery at that corner. The light for the cemetery exit will be changed to a sensor system, rather than a preset time.
Department of Revenue
2013: Approximately 5,200 parking tickets issued. This was an 11 percent increase from the previous year.
2013: 5-7 PEO's (Parking Enforcement Officers) assigned for each game.
2014: Approximately 4,000 LV-2 Parking Zone passes will be mailed out March 21.
Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
These are the figures for the area between Lake Shore Drive to Ashland, and Irving Park to Belmont.
2013: 124 investigations. 52% of the businesses were in compliance.
2013: 313 citations issued. 38 notices to correct issued. (Depending on notice, 10-30 days to correct.) 3 cease and desist notices issued.
Office of Budget Management
2013: "The Cubs have turned in their money."
2013: Night games, 865 rides (This must be for the Addison St. bus, and is the largest number of rides for one game.)
2013: Day games, 564 rides per date. (Again, this must be for the Addison St. bus, also the largest number for one game.)
2013: Night games, nine 40-foot and two 60-foot buses positioned on Addison St. for the end of the game.
2013: Day games, six 40-foot and two 60-foot buses positioned on Addison St. for the end of the game.
2013: Two 40-foot buses added to Irving Park route for the end of the game.
OEMC (Office of Emergency Management and Communications)
2013: 45-55 traffic aides assigned for game days.