Residents vote for 45th Ward improvements
by BRIAN NADIG
Viaduct improvements, an artificial-turf field at Beaubien School, a new community garden and a pedestrian crossing light in front of the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal are the top projects in the participatory budget vote last week in the 45th Ward.
Alderman John Arena is one of four aldermen who are holding a vote in which residents decide how to spend most of their ward’s $1.32 million in discretionary funds, which must be used for infrastructure improvements. Arena plans to reserve $300,000 of the discretionary funds for emergencies, cost overruns and priority projects.
Each of the approximately 650 people who voted in the ward was allowed to select up to six of the 15 proposed projects. In a separate question, residents voted to spend 55 percent of the $1 million for street resurfacing, leaving about $454,000 for other projects.
“Right now, we should be able to fund the top five projects with the money not spent on streets,” Arena said in his weekly newsletter. “However, we are working on ways to make the money go even further and do even more.”
A proposal to power wash and paint viaducts at 5700 W. Foster Ave., 5120 N. Central Ave., 4650 W. Montrose Ave., 4810 W. Wilson Ave. and 4200 W. Irving Park Road at a cost of $120,000 received the most votes with 282. The work also will include pigeon abatement.
In second place with 280 votes was a request to install an artificial turf field at Beaubien School at a cost of $183,100. About $60,000 initially was requested for the turf project, but the projected cost was increased by $123,100 after more information was obtained by the school system shortly before the voting began on April 29, according to Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh.
In third place with 269 votes was a proposal to install new lighting at the viaduct on Milwaukee Avenue over the Kennedy Expressway at a cost of $23,000, in fourth place with 201 votes was a proposal to create a food pantry garden that will be operated by Our Lady of Victory and Saint John’s Lutheran churches at a cost of $2,500, and the last measure expected to be funded with 199 votes, a proposal to install a pedestrian crossing light in front of the CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., at a cost of $125,000.
The other vote totals were as follows: 186 votes for the expansion of the Olive’s Neighborhood Garden at Ainslie Street and Laramie Avenue, 182 votes for solar recycling cans, 172 votes for bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue, 165 f votes or a new playground at Independence Park and 157 votes for on-street bike parking corrals.
Also, 131 votes for bike lanes on Lawrence Avenue, 126 votes for improvements to the pedestrian bridge over the Kennedy Expressway near Austin Avenue, 111 votes for community identifiers in Independence Park, 83 votes for lamp post repainting on Milwaukee between Foster and Peterson avenues and 51 votes for information kiosks.
Other proposals, including those for a new playground at Roberts Square Park and community murals, were under consideration but did not make the ballot. Arena’s staff informed the park’s advisory council that it would have to raise about one-third of the cost of the playground, and the council decided to seek a grant that would pay for the entire project, while uncertainty over planned changes in how the city oversees community murals led to those proposals being dropped.