JPNA discusses lawsuits regarding fatal accident on Central Avenue and zoning for 16-story building
by BRIAN NADIG
A lawsuit regarding a fatal accident, a fund-raiser for a zoning-related lawsuit and improvements to the Jefferson Park Library were among the items discussed at the March 28 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.
Attorney Carter Grant said that the City of Chicago has taken steps to improve safety by installing pedestrian bump-outs at and near the intersection of Central Avenue and Giddings Street, where a 2-year-old boy was killed while walking in a crosswalk with his mother in 2016. The bump-outs extend into the parking lane and shorten the distance of the crosswalk.
The city was aware of safety concerns along Central prior to the accident, and the accident could have been prevented if safety measures had been implemented earlier, Grant said. A lawsuit has been filed against the city, the driver of the van which struck the mother and child, and the van’s owner.
Grant said that those with information about other accidents in the area are asked to contact him at the law firm of Hart, McLaughlin and Eldridge, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Katz family.
It also was reported that a fund-raiser challenging the zoning for a planned 16-story building in Jefferson Park will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, April 23, at the Legno restaurant, 4250 N. Central Ave. The cost is $25, which includes appetizers.
Plans call for the structure, which will include 114 apartments and about 200 parking spaces, to be constructed at 4849 N. Lipps Ave., next to the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal. The building would be about 70 feet taller than Veterans Square, 4849 N. Milwaukee Ave., which is located across from the Lipps site and which currently is the tallest building in Jefferson Park.
Association president Colleen Murphy called the planned structure "completely out of character" with the community. "We definitely don’t want a 16-story building in this neighborhood," she said.
The planned development ordinance for the project includes the Veterans Square site to allow for a larger building than would be normally allowed on the parcel on Lipps, according to the lawsuit.
About 1,100 people signed a petition against the zoning change that allows for the building, but Alderman John Arena (45th) has said that "modest" density increases are needed near the terminal in an effort to revitalize the struggling business district. Construction of the building has not started, and currently the site is being used as a parking lot.
Also at the meeting, resident Mitch Kmiec reported that the Jefferson Park Library, 5363 W. Lawrence Ave., could be closed for a couple of months this fall to allow for planned electrical improvements inside the 48-year-old building. Sidewalk improvements at the library also are planned.
The improvements were one of the winning infrastructure projects in the 45th Ward participatory budget process, which includes a community vote to determine how to spend most of the ward’s annual allocation of $1.32 million in discretionary funds. Kmiec served on the committee.
The budget calls for a $175,000 expenditure for the library.
Meanwhile, attorney Elizabeth Jurkacek discussed a state law which went into effect in 2012 which allows people to set up a transfer of their property to a beneficiary prior to the owner’s death. Upon the owner’s death, the deed is automatically transferred to the beneficiary without the need for probate, which is a judicial process involving a will.
"I think it is good for people of modest circumstances. You have a house and a known beneficiary, and you have to hope the beneficiary outsurvives you (to avoid probate)," Jurkacek said.
Under the Transfer on Death Instrument Act, the property owner can revoke the prerecorded transfer, but it cannot be changed or amended, Jurkacek said. "Under the statute, it goes back in your estate, and you’re back into probate," she said.
The law is not intended for properties which are part of a living trust, which allows an owner to manage assets and set up the transfer of those assets after one’s death.
The meeting also included the donation of several bags of books to Turning The Page, a nonprofit agency which provides educational resources and programs for families in North Lawndale.
Turning The Page community partnership specialist Jacob Dimuzio said that the books are sold at the Carpe Librum Bookstores which the agency operates at 108 N. State St., 1137 S. Delano Court East, and 100 W. Randolph St. "A lot of people come by and buy a book from us and drop it back off a week later," Dimuzio said. "Books are all under $5."
More information on the agency is available at www.turningthep age.org.
The association has about 160 paid members. Its next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St.