New park should be open space
by BRIAN NADIG
A planned new park at 4546 N. Kedvale Ave. should be maintained as open space so that children can play soccer and other sports there, according to several residents at the June 14 meeting of the Mayfair Civic Association.
Group members said that children often have to play sports in the street due to a lack of a convenient athletic field, putting them at risk of being hit by a vehicle. The residents added that families wanting access to playground equipment can use the Spikings Farm Playlot Park, 4706 N. Pulaski Road, which they said lacks sufficient green space for sports.
Albany Park Community Center director of development Casey Smagala said that when he collected signatures for a petition in support of the Chicago Park District acquiring the vacant 12,500-square-foot Kedvale lot, many families told him they wanted "a wide open place to play."
Association president Ron Duplack said that the park district would consult with the Mayfair Park Advisory Council on the design of the park.
The association and the advisory council have been working with the conservation group Openlands and the park district in acquiring the property, where a house was demolished about a year ago. The park district could acquire the triangular-shaped parcel as early as this summer, Duplack said.
The community groups raised $25,000 as part of a matching grant to help pay for some of the acquisition costs, Duplack said.
Also at the meeting, several residents said that they saw "For Lease" signs at the former Lawrel Liquors store at 4471 W. Lawrence Ave., despite recent renovations for a planned liquor store there. A construction permit for the site was issued in May, and project officials have said that they planned to open the store this summer, according to Alderman Margaret Laurino’s office.
Also, Albany Park Community Center adult literacy manager Claire Gilbertsen reported that the center is in need of volunteer tutors who are available twice a week for 2-hour sessions or once a week for a 3-hour session.
The tutoring sessions are held from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and cover a variety of topics, including English as a second language, adult basic education, high school equivalency and citizenship.
For more information, call Gilbertsen at 773-433-3741 or send an e-mail to cgilbertsen@apccchgo. org. The center has locations at 5101 N. Kimball Ave. and 4219 W. Lawrence Ave. and is planning to open a third office near Lincoln and California avenues.
The meeting’s guest speaker was Nicholas Yassan of Rany Management, which owns and manages 111 apartments and 25 storefronts in the Mayfair area.
Yassan said that any vacancies are limited to units that are being renovated and that the company has invested $17 million in acquisition and rehabilitation costs in the community. He said that many of the buildings were in distress as building code violations had to be rectified and disruptive tenants had to be removed.
Yassan said that in recent years he has noticed that fewer of his tenants living in apartments on main streets have a vehicle because they use public transportation for their commute. He added that his commercial tenants tend to be service-oriented businesses instead of retail shops.
On main thoroughfares the company acquires only mixed-use buildings so that some income can always be generated from the building, as the storefronts and upper-floor apartments can be renovated at different times, Yassan said.