Speed cameras to be installed on Touhy near St. Juliana School, with additional cameras requested for Harlem near Immaculate Conception and Foster near Garvy, 41st Ward Ald. Napolitano reports during ‘state of ward’ address
by BRIAN NADIG
A speed camera is expected to be installed on West Touhy Avenue not far from Saint Juliana School this fall, according to Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st).
Napolitano made the announcement at his “State of the Ward” address on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the Norwood Park Historical Society’s Noble-Seymour-Crippen House, 5624 N. Newark Ave.
Napolitano said that while speed cameras can be controversial, they should be used as a tool if they can improve traffic and pedestrian safety, especially near schools.
“My personal feeling on this is don’t speed,” Napolitano said. “I have three kids.”
He said that he has seen vehicles drive more than 60 mph on North Octavia Avenue near Ebinger School, 7350 W. Pratt Ave.
Ebinger does not front a main thoroughfare, where speed cameras are normally installed, but Napolitano has requested cameras for West Foster Avenue near Garvy School, 5225 N. Oak Park Ave., and on North Harlem Avenue near Immaculate Conception School, 7263 W. Talcott Ave. These two requests are pending, he said.
“Everyone now is driving with anger. … Cars are flying through the school zone, (in- cluding) parents,” Napolitano said regarding Foster Avenue.
Plans call for the speed camera on Touhy to be installed within 1/8 of a mile of Saint Juliana School, 7400 W. Touhy Ave., but the exact location has not been determined. Earlier this year a pedestrian was fatally struck while crossing Touhy near North Oriole Avenue.
The Touhy speed camera has been approved and could be installed by the end of Novem- ber, according to Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio.
Napolitano also discussed the difficulties in hiring new police officers, blaming the “de- fund the police” movement for making the job unpopular and more difficult. He said that city had about 30,000 police applicants when he took the written exam in 1997 but that today’s total is about 6,000.
On crime, Napolitano said that residents need to call 911 when they witness a crime or become a victim, not just tell a neighbor “who is a police officer.” The 41st Ward is well known for its high number of first responders who live in the ward.
“Our biggest Achilles’ heel is we don’t call 911,” Napolitano said, adding that the Chicago Police Department allocates resources based on calls for service.
“Crime needs to be stopped before it happens,” Napolitano said, calling for more patrols in the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police District. “Our numbers are going up because we don’t have enough) officers here.”
Under the recent remap, the 41st Ward will lose about 4,000 residents, reducing its total from about 58,000 to 54,000, which is the approximate average per ward. “The fortunate part is everyone wants to live here,” Napolitano said.
The ward is losing Wildwood, all of Edgebrook north of West Devon Avenue and a portion of Norwood Park near the former Saint Thecla Church, 6725 W. Devon Ave., Napolitano said.
Those areas will be in the 45th Ward, whose alderman is James Gardiner, who like Na- politano is a firefighter. “I grew up with Jimmy,” he said, adding that a lot of ward residents already know Gardiner.
Napolitano, who is seeking his third term as alderman, has at least one challenger in the Feb. 28, 2023, municipal election. Edison Park Community Council vice president Paul Struebing has announced his candidacy.
Napolitano reminded residents that if they plan to vote n person in the statewide Nov. 8 state and county elections or the city election next year, their precinct may have changed, and they could have a new polling place. “Check your voter registration card,” he said.
Under a new state law, precincts were made larger due to the increased popularity of mail-in voting and a lesser demand for in-person voting. Napolitano expressed concern that voting lines on Election Day could be longer than usual if there is a high turnout.
It also was reported at the meting that street signs in Chicago are being replaced due to an older federal mandate which requires signs to have the first letter of a street name capitalized and the rest lower-case in an effort to make them more readable.
It also was announced that the historical society received a $25,000 city microgrant to help with its upkeep of the Noble-Seymour-Crippen House, which was built in 1833.