Ald. Arena lists projects for participatory budget vote; community expos scheduled


Bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue in Portage Park and Jefferson Park and pedestrian improvements in area commercial districts are among the infrastructure projects which will be on the 45th Ward participatory budget ballot on Saturday, May 2.

Details of the proposed projects will be presented at meetings that will be held from 10 am to noon Saturday, April 11, at the Jefferson Park Library, 5363 W. Lawrence Ave., from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at Disney Magnet School, 3900 N. Lawndale Ave., and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, at Farnsworth School, 5414 N. Linder Ave.

The 45th Ward is one of only a few wards in the city in which a community vote determines how most of the ward’s annual $1.32 million in discretionary funds is spent. Alderman John Arena reserves about $300,000 of the ward’s annual discretionary funds for emergency infrastructure needs.

Arena initiated the participatory budget process in the ward 3 years ago. Previous projects that have been funded include pigeon abatement at viaducts, the planting of 450 trees and installation of an artificial playing surface at Beaubien School, 5025 N. Laramie Ave.

The following projects will be on 2015 ballot: bike lanes on Milwaukee between Lawrence Avenue and Addison Street, campus improvements at Farnsworth, Hitch and Disney schools, a storage shed for the Olive’s Garden for the Hungry at Laramie Avenue and Ainslie Street, and pedestrian bump-outs at Milwaukee and Cuyler avenues, Milwaukee and Warner avenues, Milwaukee Avenue and Giddings Street, Central and Balmoral avenues, and Central and Leland avenues.

Also, pedestrian refuge islands on Cicero Avenue at Pensacola Avenue and on Lawrence Avenue at Lavergne Avenue, lighting and pedestrian improvements under the Kennedy Expressway at Pulaski Road and on the sidewalk next to the Kennedy from Pulaski Road and Dakin Street to Byron Street and Parkside Avenue.

Also, "people spots" at the Six Corners shopping district, Cicero and Milwaukee avenues and Irving Park Road, and at the Jefferson Park commercial districts near the Lawrence-Milwaukee and Lawrence-Austin intersections. People spots typical take up two on-street parking spaces and include furniture and decorative elements on a platform.

Voters also will select a percentage of the discretionary budget that should be allocated to side street resurfacing. In the past about $500,000 was used for resurfacing.

The vote will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2, at the Wilson Park fieldhouse, 4630 N. Milwaukee Ave. Early voting will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, April 27 to May 1, at the 45th Ward office, 4754 N. Milwaukee Ave.