Crime a concern at Sauganash meeting


by BRIAN NADIG

Concerns about recent burglaries, insufficient police manpower and slow emergency medical response were expressed at the Sept. 17 meeting of the Sauganash Park Community Association.

Updates also were given on the Weber bike trail, street lighting and the planned renovation of a boarded-up home. About 75 people attended the meeting, which was held at the Sauganash Park fieldhouse, 5861 N. Kostner Ave.

Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) asked the association to for a committee to discuss residents’ crime concerns with 17th (Albany Park) Police District commander Jose Ramirez and the district’s burglary and robbery unit. "I think this is the best way to proceed on this, because truthfully the police can’t do it alone," Laurino said.

One resident said that a prospective buyer of a neighbor’s house decided not to buy the house after learning of a burglary on the block, and another resident said that police officers refused to make a report about a break-in at her garage.

Some residents said that a shortage of police officers meant that the area police beat was unmanned on some shifts, but 17 District lieutenant Joe Porebski denied that. "That’s just not happening," Porebski said.

However, Porebski said that there are occasions when the beat car will have one officer instead of two and when it will be sent out of the beat because of a high-priority call elsewhere. A sergeant may be sent to higher priority calls when there is only one officer in a beat car, and the district’s rapid response cars also are available, he said.

Sauganash Park is in Beat 1711, which is one of the largest beats in the district, Porebski said. The boundaries are Kedzie Avenue on the east, Cicero Avenue on the west, Devon Avenue on the north and Bryn Mawr Avenue on the south.

Laurino encouraged residents to attend the next Beat 1711 meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, at North Park Village, 5801 N. Pulaski Road.

Also at the meeting, a firefighter who lives in the area asked Laurino to look into securing an advanced life support ambulance for fire station at 3945 W. Peterson Ave. A resident said that it took more than 15 minutes for an advanced life support ambulance to be dispatched to her home after her son fell down the stairs.

Also at the meeting, Laurino said that she has had discussions about having the county purchase the site of a former car wash at 6140 N. Pulaski Road and use the triangular parcel as a landscaped staging area for the planned Weber bike trail. The property is next to a former railroad line that is being turned into a bike and pedestrian trail that will run between Elston and Kimberly avenues on the south and Lincolnwood on the north.

The City of Chicago will build the portion of trail that is in the city, but the Cook County Forest Preserve District has agreed to maintain the trail after it is completed, Laurino said. Construction could be about 2 years away, she said.

Laurino said that her office has received requests for more street lights on some side streets but that the issue can be contentious because not all residents like the additional brightness. She said that her office has petition forms which residents can use when surveying their block on the issue.

Laurino also reported that the new owner of a vacant house in the 6200 block for North Kedvale Avenue has plans to fix the house and sell the property. She said that the property was foreclosed on and that it has been an eyesore for several years.

It also was reported that the same man is suspected in two recent attacks on off-duty police officers while they were using area pedestrian trails. Porebski said that the district has deployed extra officers along the Sauganash Trail, where one of the off-duty officers fought off the man after he tackled her and pulled at her shirt.

The other incident occurred in Caldwell Woods in the 16th District.

Information about the community association is available online at www.sauganashpark.org.


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