Three expos scheduled on participatory budget


A proposal to install more bike racks in the Six Corners shopping district has been added to the 45th Ward participatory budget ballot, while recent news that 402 trees are being cut down in the ward could help another measure on the ballot gain votes.

Planting trees in parkways in the ward is one of several funding requests on the ballot that were announced last month. Alderman John Arena is one of four aldermen who use a community vote to determine how approximately $1 million of the ward’s annual allocation of $1.32 million in discretionary funds is spent.

Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that a request for $8,843 for the installation of "bike corrals" at 4820 W. Irving Park Road, 4016 N. Cicero Ave. and 4815 N. Milwaukee Ave. was a late addition to the ballot. Corrals are groups of bike racks which are located in a parking lane on the roadway.

The proposed location on Milwaukee is contingent on lifting a rush-hour parking ban on Milwaukee between Lawrence Avenue and Addison Street, which the City Council is expected to do, Brugh said. The corrals on Cicero and Irving Park would be placed in parking lanes that are not meant for through traffic.

Another ballot measure gives voters a choice of having 150, 300 or 450 new trees planted in the ward, at a cost of $535 per tree. Brugh said that with the city cutting down hundreds of dead or dying trees in the ward, due mostly to the emerald ash borer infection, the proposal gives residents an opportunity to replace some of the trees in addition to the ones which the city is planting from a different revenue stream.

For the past 2 years the city was inoculating ash trees which were not more than half dead, but the focus this year has switched to cutting down infected trees, Brugh said.

"Almost every ash tree in the area is infected, and even if a tree looks well, the ash borer is likely killing the tree and creating a hazard," Arena said in his weekly newsletter. "It is going to take years for us to work through the devastation caused by this insect."

Arena will hold expos on the ballot measures from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at Disney Magnet School, 3815 N. Kedvale Ave., from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at Saint Tarcissus School, 6040 W. Ardmore Ave., and from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St.

The other proposed projects include $67,000 for tennis court renovations at Wilson Park, $100,000 for a new playground at Independence Park, $150,000 for pigeon abatement and viaduct remediation at several locations, $70,000 for the expansion of bike lanes on Lawrence Avenue between Cicero Avenue and Long Avenue, and $25,000 for new fencing along the pedestrian walkway leading to the Gladstone Park Metra station.

Also on the ballot are requests for $17,500 for decorative banner holders on lamp posts in the Jefferson Park commercial district, $35,700 for improved lighting on the Irving Park-Kennedy Expressway bridge and $10,000 for lighting upgrades at the Pulaski Road-Union Pacific Railroad viaduct in the Old Irving Park area.

In some instances the proposed projects also would receive funds from other sources, such as the Chicago Park District. Voters also will be asked what percentage of the discretionary funds, which are commonly referred to as aldermanic menu funds, should be allocated to resurfacing side streets.

Voting for the participatory budget will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Wilson Park fieldhouse, 4630 N. Milwaukee Ave., with early voting available between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, May 5 to 9, at the 45th Ward office, 4754 N. Milwaukee Ave. Ward residents age 14 or older are eligible to vote.

About 635 residents voted last year. Pigeon abatement and an artificial playing surface at Beaubien School were among the winning projects.

Another winning project, the installation of a pedestrian crossing light in front of the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, will be done as part of a roadway and bike lane improvement project on Milwaukee between Lawrence and Elston Avenue. Formal plans for the "Chicago Complete Streets" project are expected to be announced later this spring.