Ald. Laurino seeks to bring back Elston bus


Renewed attempts are being made to have the CTA bring back the Elston Avenue bus route, according to Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th).

"I’m hoping to see progress on this by next year," Laurino said at her annual "State of the Ward" address at a March 2 business luncheon at Monastero’s Restaurant, 3935 W. Devon Ave. Laurino said that Alderman Deborah Mell (33rd) is working with her on the effort to have the bus route reinstated.

The Chicago Transit Authority stopped operating the Elston route more than 25 years ago due to low ridership, but several portions of the Elston Avenue corridor have been revitalized and there is an increasing demand for an Elston bus, Laurino said. The former bus route operated between the Loop and the intersection of Elston and Milwaukee avenues.

Laurino said that new businesses that recently opened on Elston include the Mariano’s grocery store at 5353 N. Elston Ave., the Senor Pan Cafe at 4821 N. Elston Ave. and the Seafood City Supermarket at 5033 N. Elston Ave. She said that the opening of Seafood City last year created more than 200 jobs.

Concerns have been expressed at community meetings that the redevelopment of older warehouses and factories on Elston is being hampered due a lack of public transportation to take employees to prospective businesses.

Laurino also reported that a designated area for food trucks is being established on the 3600 block of West Bryn Mawr Avenue, near the campus of Northeastern Illinois University.

In addition, the 63-unit Fitzgerald apartment complex, which is intended for people age 62 and older, will open this year at North Park Village, 5801 N. Pulaski Road. "There is definitely a need across our community for more senior housing," Laurino said.

Following Laurino’s talk, representatives of the National Immigrant Justice Center and Heartland Human Care Services encouraged businesses to help their workers find legal representation if their immigration status is questioned as part of a federal government crackdown.

The representatives also said that companies should keep records of their employees’ legal status in order to avoid fines that can be levied against employers, even in cases in which the business did not hire any illegal immigrants.

The luncheon was sponsored by AT&T, the Peterson-Pulaski Industrial Council, the Sauganash/Edgebrook Chamber of Commerce, the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce, the Pulaski-Elston Business Association and the Albany Park Community Center.