2019 State of the Ward Address

February 7, 2019
















Thank you to the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce, Edgebrook Sauganash Chamber of Commerce, Albany Park Community Council, Peterson Pulaski Business and Industrial Council, and the Pulaski Elston Business Association for hosting one last State of the Ward address. It has been been an amazing 25 years.

See the Alderman's remarks from the event below for a walk down memory lane, a recap of the past year, and what to expect in the months to come.


"Good afternoon.


February 6.  On this day, Elizabeth II became queen of England – 67 years ago.


I certainly don’t want to be alderman that long, so this will be my last State of the Ward.


It’s bitter sweet because we’ve made major accomplishments and I’ve enjoyed working with all of you.  But as I’ve said, I’ve been at this for 24 years, my husband Randy has retired and I have two young grandchildren.  So it’s time to focus on family and travel.


You’ve still got me for another three months though, so let’s talk about the State of the Ward.


I am so honored to be with you today.  I believe it was Janita Tucker who invited me to give my first State of the Ward address 19 years ago, when she took over as the Executive Director of Peterson Pulaski Business and Industrial Council.  Since this address will be my last State of the Ward, please indulge me as I reflect on some of our accomplishments.


When I first took office, I noticed that we had fantastic business corridors but no Chambers of Commerce.  Over the years, I established the Peterson Pulaski Business and Industrial Council, the Pulaski Elston Business Association and the Edgebrook Sauganash Chamber of Commerce.  I urged the Albany Park Community Center to expand their services to include a business outreach program. And, after the last remap, I was thrilled to add the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce to my 39th Ward business organizations.  


I have always considered our Chambers to be offshoots of my Ward Office, my eyes and ears in the business community.  We’ve been fortunate to have great Chamber directors and I’d like to acknowledge the work of Cathy Voight, Jenny Herren, Amie Zander, Janita Tucker and Jin Lee. Thank you for all the work you do as strong advocates for our business community.


Some might say we’ve been through good times and bad.  But honestly, it seems like the good times far, far outweigh any bad ones.  Probably the worst things we experienced were economic downturns. But we survived those – and thrived.  I’d like to take a trip down memory lane to test you.


Do you remember . . .


  • The Edens Motel and the abandoned gas station on Cicero and Peterson?  For longer than I care to remember, we were hoping for a new commercial development to take place on this location, but for one reason or another, development plans kept falling through.  Finally, the property was sold, the eyesores demolished. In its place – there’s a Whole Foods Market and condominiums.


Do you remember . . .


  • The old 17th District Police Station?  That station was top of the line, when it was built in 1938.  But by 21st century standard standards, it was woefully outdated.  The new building, still on Pulaski, is a state-of-the-art police station.  It continues to make the neighborhood proud and offer the public safety resources needed to serve the community.  


Do you remember . . .


  • The Albany Park flood in 2008?  We officially opened the Albany Park Storm Water Diversion Tunnel last July – a $75 million capital investment project.  The drainage tunnel eliminates the danger of floods that have plagued our northwest side neighborhood for more than a century.  The 18-foot diameter tunnel diverts a flow of 2,300 cubic feet of water per second, bypassing Albany Park and emptying into the North Shore Channel.


Do you remember . . .


  • The old Skill Building at 4300 W. Peterson?  That vacant factory has been transformed into a lovely single family home development.


I’m proud of these – and many other projects that transformed the Ward.  I’m excited for the future.


Peoples Gas is building a brand new 9-acre administrative campus at the corner of Peterson and Pulaski set to open this year.


We broke ground in 2018 on the grounds of the old Sunstar factory.  In its place will be the Edens Collection with national tenants and local jobs – along Foster between Gompers Park and Cicero.  The 9-acre center will include a Target, LA Fitness, Five Below and Dress for Less. The developers are working on contracts with a few more stores and restaurants.  Construction is underway with an expected opening in 2020.


Talk about being a good neighbor, the developer has already given $2 million for improvements in nearby Gompers Park.


We finally completed the long needed $5 million sewer replacement for downtown Edgebrook.  I know it came at a cost to business, but we worked tirelessly with city crews to ease the negative impact as much as possible.  I have every confidence that the inconvenience of the construction will be offset by the benefits of updated infrastructure.


For North Park Commercial Corridors, the Department of Planning is working with the community on a market study that should be finalized this year.  Two businesses that are already transforming the neighborhood are the Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club (home to the Mayor’s favorite oatmeal!) and Big Hill Bar & Grill, which was opened last year by the same owner.  


Second City Meadery signed a lease in December for its future production and taproom space at 4465 N. Elston.  Mead is regarded by enthusiasts as the cultural crossroads where wine and beers meet. It’s made with honey, water and yeast.  Owners expect draft sales to start this year


In Mayfair, White Linen Studio at Elston and Leland will be a collective space for artists to share their skills, craft and technique while creating beautiful art to showcase with exhibition space.


There’s a 7-Eleven / Mobile hybrid in the works to replace the Sunoco at Milwaukee and Devon.  Al Klairmont and Imperial Realty are doing a retail build out to make improvements to their property at Peterson and Cicero. 


We’ve seen more community involvement in our public facilities.  Sauganash Park community members are wrapping up a framework plan noting potential site improvements so as money becomes available as it did for Gompers, there are projects ready to be launched.  Kedvale Triangle Park was formally acquired by the Park District thanks to a sponsorship push by the community.


Our schools haven’t been left behind.  


Between now and the end of 2020, we will complete work on the much needed new roof and addition for Palmer Elementary.  There will be new classrooms, a new cafeteria and much needed tuck pointing. Belding Elementary School has been certified to offer the highly-acclaimed International Baccalaureate.  That program is scheduled for this fall. And there’s a new turf field at Peterson Elementary.


Last month, we celebrated another major accomplishment, the opening – finally – of the Independence Library on Elston.  Now if some of you have 39th Ward maps in your heads, like I do, you may say, “Hey, this isn’t in the 39th Ward.”  It’s not, but it’s just across the street.  More importantly, I’ve personally been pushing 10 years for its creation to better serve the community, including 39th Ward residents.


The building includes 44 senior resident units above the library.  First move-ins are expected this spring.


Last month, I also introduced legislation that would create the North Park Village Commission with powers to plan, supervise and coordinate projects.


You’ll want to mark your calendars for The Throwback Music Fest September 6 through 8.  This fourth straight year in Gladstone Park promises to be bigger and better. Who thought you could have such a great party right on Milwaukee Avenue?


Finally, there will be two landmarks for our community. Sauganash Gateway at 4801 W. Peterson will be up by the end of the year with some artistic, illuminated trees. There will be city landmarking for North Park Village within the next few months. There’s also a national historic registry in the works for the area.


All of these projects share a common purpose: they enhance our quality of life, they keep Chicago moving forward, and they help sustain the city’s economy in certain and uncertain economic times.  Long-range capital investments create new construction jobs and new permanent jobs in private industry.


These issues are crucial to the business economy in the area.  The better we become for families -- the better we are for business and for our neighborhoods.  Without strong neighborhoods, we cannot have strong businesses. Families continue to invest in and make commitments throughout the 39th Ward.  And this is the most meaningful measure of a community’s success.


Finally, some well-earned thank yous:


To my staff –   Even the news media has said that our public service office is one of the best in Chicago.


Thank you – in alphabetical order - to:


  • The Albany Park Community Center

  • The Edgebrook Sauganash Chamber of Commerce

  • The Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce

  • The Peterson & Pulaski Business & Industrial Council

  • The Pulaski Elston Business Association AND


All of you for supporting business growth in our 39th Ward."