Some 60 Buena Park residents and neighbors attended our General Meeting in the fifth-floor solarium at Thorek Memorial Hospital on September 12th–what a terrific turnout! Guest speakers joining us were 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman, The Chamber for Uptown Executive Director Paula Barrington, and Thorek CFO Ned Budd. We also elected our BPN officers for the coming year, and the evening ended with a flurry of raffles for Cubs tickets (generously donated by Troy Leight), T-shirts, cooler bags, and assorted other goodies. Here are the evening’s highlights:
Alderman Cappleman praised Buena Park Neighbors for its work with Brennemann Elementary School, noting that good schools are cornerstones of the community and encourage families to stay in the neighborhood. “Keep doing that,” he said. Cappleman also said visible community projects–like adopting empty lots and spaces for gardens–set an example of commitment and bring residents out into the community, which helps keep neighborhoods safe. “The key to addressing crime,” he said, “is more people on the street.”
Noting that the first installments of the 46th Ward Master Plan–including a section on public safety–are now available on the ward’s Web site, Cappleman said crime reduction is a top priority. Major efforts are underway to focus resources on the ward’s five crime hot-spots, to target the 13 buildings in the ward with the highest rates of arrests, and to work with the Chicago Police Department and the city’s social services to locate the most frequent offenders to intervene and stop their cycle of crime. “You can be assured,” Cappleman promised, “that I will be aggressive and so will the [police] commanders.”
The Chamber for Uptown’s executive director, Paula Barrington, told residents that the chamber is committed to making Uptown a “destination” by fostering new business opportunities–including the revitalization of the Uptown Theater and other venues to create an Uptown entertainment district, a plan that Rahm Emanuel strongly supports. “We’re on the mayor’s radar,” Barrington said. The chamber also wants to encourage more street festivals celebrating the distinctive character of the ward, especially its Asian community and culture.
Thorek Memorial Hospital’s new CFO, Ned Budd, said the hospital is committed to improvements and growth. The ER is being completely renovated with updated facilities (including new patient rooms) and new equipment. Budd said no definite plans have been made for the hospital’s corner property on Irving and Sheridan, although an outpatient facility or extended services clinic may be in the mix. Budd added that Thorek is “looking forward to extending our outreach in the community,” and said the hospital’s recent $5,000 contribution to Buena Park Neighbors was “a first step.”
BPN President Bill Petty followed the guest speakers. Bill distributed a calendar of events and invited residents to participate in upcoming activities for local children and families, attend BPN’s popular pub crawls and concerts in the park, and volunteer in our ongoing beautification programs. Several people asked for neighborhood maps to identify and report dead trees and burned-out streetlamps
–our latest initiative to keep Buena Park clean, green, and safe. Bill said new ideas for neighborhood projects, like the upkeep of Challenger Bark dog park, are always welcome. “It’s amazing what people can accomplish when they come together,” he said.
The slate of BPN officers for 2011-2012 was approved by a show of hands. The contribution of these volunteers is invaluable and, as always, greatly appreciated.
BPN Officers for 2011-2012
Bill Petty, President
Ken Gasper, Vice President
Shannon Davis, Secretary
Leslie Frieze, Treasurer
Many thanks to our generous hosts at Thorek for providing an elegant meeting space, a beautiful array of comestibles, plus shopping totes for everyone in attendance!
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