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Cubs, City, Wrigleyville Neighbors Meet, And Peacefully

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There was a meeting involving Cubs officials, representatives from the city and Wrigleyville neighbors Thursday night. The big news was that it was relatively peaceful and calm.

Remember when Wrigley Field looked like this? It was less than six months ago.
Remember when Wrigley Field looked like this? It was less than six months ago.
David Sameshima

The photo at the top of this post shows Wrigley Field as it looked September 25, 2014, the day after the last 2014 Cubs home game. Keep this photo in mind as you read the report on the Cubs' annual community meeting which took place Thursday night at the new Chicago Police Department facility, which is located on Addison Street a couple of blocks east of Wrigley Field. The area depicted is one of the places where tour buses had stopped to wait for groups to board after games. Obviously, with construction going on in this area and Sheffield Avenue closed, this won't be possible as the 2015 season begins.

BCB's David Sameshima attended the meeting and filed this detailed report:

The Cubs held their annual community meeting at the Chicago Police Department 19th District Community Meeting Room. The main purpose of this meeting is to recap Wrigley Field neighborhood-related events from the previous season. Cubs and city officials then get feedback from the community.

For the first time since I started attending these meetings, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney was not in attendance. A member of Tunney's staff was there to represent the 44th Ward. The only alderman in attendance was 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman. The 32nd and 47th wards were represented by ward staff employees. There were also representatives present from various city departments. 

The Cubs were represented by Vice President of Community and Goverment Affairs/Legal Chief Counsel Mike Lufrano, Vice President of Ballpark Operations Carl Rice, Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green, Senior Director of Wrigley Field Event Operations Matt Kenny (who is no relation to Crane Kenney) and Executive Assistant of Community Affairs Brittany Burcham. Also in the audience was former Manager of Goverment and Neighborhood Relations Kam Buckner, who recently left the Cubs to work for a not-for-profit organization. Lufrano announced that the Cubs will be hiring a replacement for this still-open position.

The person from the Office Of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) acted as host. In the past, Tunney had handled these duties. Lufrano started the meeting and covered many topics from last season. The police department commander also covered more than he was expected to. As a result the OEMC host decided to skip some department representatives. Their material had already been covered by Mike Lufrano or the police commander.

Here is some of the information that Lufrano covered:

$3.75 million has been contributed into the Cubs Fund over the past 10 years. (The Cubs Fund is money contributed by the Cubs toward community improvement projects.)

$4.5 million in charitable contributions

47,000 fans used the remote parking lot last season. (I didn't catch how many cars used it.)

Over 4,500 bicycles used the Cubs Bike Valet service last season. The valet service will remain located between the Cubs Store and McDonald's on Clark St. It was relocated from Waveland Avenue, just west of the ballpark, in the middle of last season due to construction work.

45-50 Chicago Traffic Management Aides were assigned to each game. This will remain the same for this season.

The three concerts from last year brought in $500,000 in amusement tax for the city.

This year is the 10th anniversary for the Race To Wrigley. Besides the normal 5K run, this year only there will be an optional 10K run. The 10K run will be 2 loops of the 5K route.

Construction in the triangle lot will be ongoing during the season. Clark Street will remain restricted, with only two lanes of traffic open. This is the stretch of Clark from Addison to Waveland.

The groundskeepers cottage, currently stored in the Blue Lot, will be restored. It will be returned to its original location, along the west side of the ballpark, by mid summer.

A temporary players' parking lot will be established in the Blue Lot. It will be fenced off.

Media trucks/trailers will be parked in the Gold Lot.

Irving Park Road will be the designated charter bus drop off/pick up zone for this season. Those groups identified as special needs will be allowed to use the area in front of the Captain Morgan Club on Addison as their drop off/pick up zone. Further details are to be worked out at a city transportation meeting scheduled for next Tuesday. Part of the plan will involve using Cubs employees, to guide groups from Irving Park to Wrigley Field.

Chicago Police Department 19th District Commander Elias Voulgaris was the next speaker. Here are some of the points he covered.

He stressed that he would continue to concentrate on quality of life issues. For residents, this includes parking, traffic, noise, drunken behavior and panhandling. These were the citations issued last year:

1913 parking tickets issued.

1031 minor citation violations.

1139 contact cards filled out.

448 tows

41 moving violations. 

132 arrests

He said they'll continue to concentrate on post-concert protection.

They'r generally satisfied with the local practice of residents selling parking spaces on private property. Just asked that residents to "not overdo it". 

The city won't tolerate "Ravinia style drinking" on Waveland.

They'll continue the practice of holding monthly meetings with bar owners, to prevent issues from arising.

A person from the Department of Transportion was next. Here are a few items that were brought up: 

21 projects are being covered by the Cubs Fund.

Seven projects were just completed at a cost of $956,000.

$12,507 was spent on sign maintenance.

The city replaced 52 parking signs in the 44th ward, replaced 270 other parking related signs and replaced 26 remote parking signs.

$350,000 was spent on new traffic lights at the Clark Street/School Street/Aldine Street intersection.

$350,000 spent on new traffic lights at the Clark Street/Roscoe Street intersection.

The CTA representative was next. He was assigned to this meeting at the last meeting, so he only had a few figures available:

On the #152 Addison Street bus route, there are eight additional 40-foot buses and two 60-foot buses assigned on game days. 

For night and weekend games, there are nine additional 40-foot buses and two 60-foot buses assigned.

For concert events, there are eight additional 40-foot buses assigned.

No additional buses are assigned to the #22 Clark Street bus route on game days. Instead, additional 60-foot buses are assigned.

This ended the presentation portion of the meeting, which lasted from 6:35 to 7:15. Next was the question-and-answer portion of the evening. Unlike last year's meeting, this was relatively calm. The meeting room was also not as full, with approximately 100 people in the room. There were people standing in back, but there were still a few scattered empty seats around me. Last year, it was a capacity crowd, with people spilling out into the hallway.

I arrived early since I was expecting a capacity crowd, with all the additional concerns about construction this year. I was also expecting a more contentious meeting, like the past few years. There were a few passionate complaints, but nothing near the scale of past years. Some of the issues brought up were the increase of rats in the neighborhood, the local community police phone hotline not being answered and the lacking of parking enforcement.

Concerts and special events are still a concern. These is still some confusion about parking restrictions during concerts/special events. Those restrictions are supposed to be the same as night games, but some concertgoers are not aware of this. In particular some residents were upset by the fact that the upcoming AC/DC concert is scheduled on a school night this September. 

There is still an issue with the 30 additional security that was promised in past meetings. This was personnel to be assigned outside the ballpark after the game. CPD has assigned 10 officers. The Cubs have assigned 10 security members. I was not clear on who was supposed to come through with funding the other 10 positions.

One resident who lives on the 3700 block of Seminary was very concerned about the broadcast cable bridge over Waveland Avenue. She has to drive under it every day. She was afraid that the support is not safe, and that the bridge is going to fall on top of her. The support portions do appear to look like scaffolding. Carl Rice addressed this issue. He assured the room that the bridge is up to all city codes. 

Well, this went on for another 45 minutes, until the scheduled end time of 8:00 p.m. It is obvious that many traffic issues will have to be addressed with construction changing the game day traffic flow. Besides vehicular traffic, how will pedestrian traffic be handled? Only the sidewalks will be available to handle the fans along Waveland and Sheffield. How will the charter groups be able to navigate from Irving Park Rd, to Wrigley Field entry gates? Hopefully all these traffic flow issues will be properly coordinated at next Tuesday's transportation meeting with city department officials.

Thanks to David for these detailed notes, which give you a good look at the relationship between the Cubs, city officials, and the neighborhood. They do have quite a bit of work yet to do, it would see, before Opening Night, which is now just 30 days away.