LISC – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop http://www.newstips.org Chicago Community Stories Mon, 14 Jul 2014 17:31:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.12 NFL to fund Kelly Park renovation http://www.newstips.org/2013/09/nfl-to-fund-kelly-park-renovation/ Mon, 23 Sep 2013 20:16:49 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=7713 The NFL and LISC are donating $200,000 to construction of a new artificial turf soccer and football field at Kelly Park, a major win in a two-year campaign to win renovation of the Southwest Side park.

Mark Bachleda and Ramon Salazar of Brighton Park Neighborhood Council made the announcement at the first annual Brighton Park Fest held Saturday at Kelly Park by BPNC to raise funds for the renovation.

Hundreds of residents turned out for games and festivities, with booths featuring local restaurants.

Pat Levar, chief operating officer of the Chicago Park District, announced the district would contribute $500,000 in capital funds for the field.  Previously State Senator Martin Sandoval had won a $210,000 state appropriation for the project.

Sara Reschly of BPNC, chair of the Kelly Park Advisory Council, said CPS had indicated it would kick in the balance of the $1.2 million needed for the field.

Brian Richter, assistant principal of Kelly High, exulted that Kelly’s boys’ soccer team, now in the running for its second citywide championship in a row, would have a real soccer field across the street from the school for practice and games.

In 20 years as a teacher and administrator at Kelly, he said, he’d “watched the park continue to deteriorate….We’re so pleased our children are finally going to get the park they deserve.”

As an educator, he said, he had to point out to his students the “lesson in good government and good community organizing: when people work together, good things happen.

Bacheda recounted community efforts to raise funds and press elected officials for support — volunteers knocking on residents’ doors, a huge town hall meeting last year, a 5K walk, a flea market and sidewalk sale.

“Two years ago, this seemed like an impossible dream,” remarked Anita Caballero, president of BPNC’s board.

“It’s been 40 years since there was significant investment in the park,” commented Reschly.  With population shifts, baseball diamonds were no longer heavily used, and bleachers were broken and never repaired, she said.  Drainage problems caused large pools of standing water throughout the park for days after heavy rains.  “The park has not been kept up,” she said.

Since the campaign was launched, existing drains have been cleaned out and a new sidewalk installed, but Reschly said residents will continue to push for a full renovation of the park, including a new drainage system, new playground equipment, and other features.

The neglected park has been a magnet for gang activity, Reschly said.  A renovated park will attract families and provide alternative activities for young people, she said.

A full restoration would cost an estimated $3.4 million, she said.

“These grants and commitments [announced Saturday] are important, but they only take us some of the way,” said Caballero.  “We need all of our elected officials to step up and secure the rest of the money we need for the project.”

 

Related:

Facing anti-violence cuts, Brighton Park proposes a community plan (7-26-12)

Brighton Park: vigil for gun victims – and call to action (1-21-13)

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Details Expected on Foreclosure Plan http://www.newstips.org/2009/02/details-expected-on-foreclosure-plan/ Fri, 27 Feb 2009 06:00:00 +0000 http://communitymediaworkshop.org/newstips/?p=3049 While they continue their work helping families facing foreclosure, housing counselors are awaiting more details about the Obama administration’s new foreclosure prevention program.

“People are definitely asking how the new housing policy will effect them,” said Andre Gaither, director of the South Chicago office of Neighborhood Housing Services. “At this point the information we have is sketchy.” More details about the plan will be released March 4.

But anyone facing trouble with their mortgage will benefit from seeing a certified housing counselor, who can negotiate with a lender to make sure a mortgage workout is affordable, he said.

Studies have shown that most homeowners facing foreclosure seek no help at all; many of the rest deal directly with their mortgage servicers, often ending up with resolutions that actually increase monthly payments.

“They really need to come to us,” said Gaither. “We’re working for them.”

The prospect of foreclosure often has serious psychological impacts, said Angela Hurlock, executive director of Claretian Associates, which houses the South Chicago NHS office. “There’s shame, guilt, fear,” she said. “People don’t want to talk about it.

“We want to break that down and give people information about assistance that can be trusted.”

As a faith-based affordable housing developer with a long history, Claretian Associates has established a high level a trust in the neighborhood. As lead agency of LISC’s New Communities Program in South Chicago, the group has hired a housing preservation coordinator, and she is making contact with block clubs, churches, schools and preschools with information about free counseling services available at NHS and at the Spanish Coalition, another housing counseling agency in the area.

South Chicago has seen “steadily increasing” foreclosures, and many blocks have multiple properties that have been foreclosed on, Hurlock said. It’s a problem for the entire neighborhood, she said; for one thing, foreclosures effect the property values of all homeowners in the area.

Claretian Associates is holding a foreclosure summit tomorrow (Saturday, February 28) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3200 E. 91st, with 11th Ward Alderman John Pope and counselors from NHS and Spanish Coalition. One goal is to educate residents about foreclosures rescue scams that can cheat them out of their homes.

In two weeks the group is holding a workshop for small contractors and landlords in the area about the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a federal effort to reclaim homes make vacant by foreclosure.

Their also working on a youth-oriented program, Hurlock said. She said the psychological impacts on young people when their families face the prospect of losing their home can be dramatic.

NHS holds a weekly foreclosure prevention workshop every Monday at 6 p.m. at Via Guadalupe Senior Center, 3201 E. 91st. It’s open to all residents of the 60617 zip code, though homeowners are asked to register in advance if they can.

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